What's The Point Of A Meatless Life?

Last week's mini-tempest raised by Veggie Guy Eddie Garza's visit to the state fair was fascinating. In amongst voices of reason were several judgmental statements, such as "have a cheeseburger; It will make you feel better" and "awww, poor ignorant meat eaters....bless their hearts..." Then there was my favorite, from someone wandering the animal pens: "I could almost see in their eyes how unhappy some were."

It seems a bit conceited to make assumptions about a cow's personal feelings. It's annoying when one person or group denigrates the dining habits of another...unless, of course, the assailed enjoy pickled beets.

Those people are fair game.

Now, I understand the plight of vegans and vegetarians trying to find thoughtfully prepared meals and diverse menu options in mainstream restaurants. That's one of the reasons I love Eddie's column. His is also an honest voice--a vegan quite willing to skewer other vegans, as well as us meat eaters. So it seems fair, in the wake of this discussion, that I add my thoughts on the vegan diet.

While I understand the plight of those who adopt a meatless way of life, I've never understood why one would choose to be vegan or vegetarian in the first place.

Well, there is one exception. If someone simply doesn't really like the flavor of meat, a vegetarian/vegan diet makes perfect sense.

But so many people define their decision in moral terms--meat is murder and other such jibes. Because ancient humans lived off the hunt as well as the gather, there's no fundamental wrong in a steak, a rack of lamb, or roasted cuy for that matter. You can argue the harm caused by large slaughterhouses. They unnecessarily stress the animals, sometimes create public health issues and pump more than their share of pollution into the environment. Of course, that doesn't prevent a person from finding meat from environmentally friendly free range farms.

Others choose vegan/vegetarian diets as a means of losing weight. Nothing wrong with that, although Jared (of Subway fame) shed hundreds of pounds by eating meat-laced sandwiches...and exercising more. In other words, going without meat isn't absolutely the only way to get back in shape.

Now, this is not to say a vegan/vegetarian existence is wrong. After all, who really cares what another person eats or doesn't eat, so long as they stay within acceptable social bounds? Just as there's no purpose in "eat a hamburger, you'll feel better" comments, there's no call for the sense of superiority some vegan/vegetarians feel.

Emphasis on some.

As for me, well, I just don't understand why one would want to adopt such a confined (meaning bacon-free) diet. But that's why I think Eddie's column is so damn interesting. Whether I agree or not, I learn something.