Tag Archives: vegetarianism

A Whine About Vegans…As Promised

As I’m sure everyone knows, Veganism is an extreme form of vegetarianism, although not the most extreme. That would be Fruitarianism. Those people only eat things that don’t kill the plant they came from. I want to ask, what about a plant like spinach, which is an annual? It’s going to die anyway, so why can’t you eat it? Some won’t eat seeds, because they are future baby plants.
But as usual, I digress. Vegans don’t eat meat, but they also don’t eat things produced by animals, like eggs, honey, and milk. The rationale is that this leads to exploitation of the animals. I fail to see how eating honey exploits honeybees, since it’s something they’re going to do anyway. Bears do it, why can’t I?
Eggs and milk are a different story. If you’ve read anything at all about factory farming, you know that chickens and cows are forced into very unnatural conditions and lead miserable lives from our perspective.
Especially cows. Cows don’t produce milk unless they’ve had a calf, so what happens is, the calves are removed from the cow immediately after birth. They’re fed a milk substitute, and soon killed for veal, or destroyed right away if there is a surplus of calves.
So what is an animal lover to do?
Here’s what I say: Humans did not start out as omnivores, but we are now. It’s like the folk tale of the scorpion and the frog. The scorpion asks the frog to take him across a river, because he can’t swim. The frog is reluctant. The scorpion tells the frog he won’t sting him, because if he does it will doom them both. Halfway across the river, the scorpion stings the frog anyway, and the frog cries “Why?!” The scorpion says it was because he can’t help himself. He’s a scorpion, it’s in his nature.
It’s useless to feel guilty for being the creature you are. We are scorpions. And nobody ever castigates lions for eating antelope.

I Hate Chicken

It’s quite amazing, but in the U.S. anyway, it’s hard to find any fast food that doesn’t serve chicken, chicken, or chicken.  Why is that?

Because chickens are easy to grow, grow from babies to maturity very quickly, don’t eat much (when calculated over time), eat cheap food, and as a bonus, lay eggs in the meantime.

So my antipathy toward eating chicken started this way:  I used to have a friend who was a semi-vegetarian.  I thought that was admirable, and I like mostly vegetarian foods anyway, but couldn’t see myself giving up meat.  Who can live without bacon?

I decided I would focus on one animal only to start with, and that was chicken.  I would give up chicken, and then work on the other animals.  It didn’t hurt that at the time, I had recently seen an undercover video made by the Humane Society of the U.S. showing workers in a chicken house slamming chickens into a concrete wall and killing them, just for entertainment.

Never mind cattle feed lots so large they can be seen from space.  Never mind pig farms.  One thing at a time.

Here’s how that’s worked out.  I still eat chicken, though very rarely.  I’m a complete failure at eating according to principle.  I will only eat chicken wings, and then only two, because if I eat six, it means they had to kill three chickens for them.  (Not that they wouldn’t have anyway.)  Sometimes I get a two-piece chicken meal from somewhere, which consists of a wing and a breast.  I eat the wing, and I eat the skin from the chicken breast and throw the rest away.  I wish someone could come up with a way to skin chickens without killing the chicken.  You know, kind of like shearing a sheep.  (Except sheep-shearing doesn’t remove skin.)  Last I checked, skin is critical to survival.

So what’s happened is that not only do I feel guilty for eating chicken at all, I’ve taught myself to gag during  the process.  I didn’t realize that you could voluntarily condition yourself this way.

I’m hopeless.  I’ll never be able to do this.  And I think I shouldn’t have tried.  When my semi-vegetarian friend became very ill, she had to start eating meat again, for the protein.  She felt terrible.  I said, do what the Native Americans did:  ask forgiveness for taking its life so that you could live.

Me too.  I’m not sure that any of us can successfully be vegetarians.  From an evolutionary standpoint, we aren’t made that way.

Vegetarians Unite…or Not

Disclaimer:  I am not a vegetarian.  I’m not even close.  But I have been making a special effort for the last couple of years not to eat chicken.  I haven’t been successful, but I can at least say that I’ve dropped my chicken consumption by about 80%.  I would LIKE to be a vegetarian, but I have the same problem with it that I have with quitting smoking:  No discipline.  Oh yeah, there’s that addiction thing, too. 

If you don’t believe me, try giving up chicken.  If you pay attention, a huge majority of fast-food places serve chicken exclusively.  “Hamburger” fast-food places always serve chicken too.  Check out the freezer section for ready-made dinners–mostly chicken.  Higher-end restaurants always have chicken as an option.  Those in between (see:Applebee’s) feature wings and “boneless” wings.  Ditto even pizza places.  You can’t escape chicken, and it’s been touted as a healthy alternative to red meat, which in our world primarily means beef. 

It would be good to start giving up meat by giving up baby animals like lamb and veal and piglets, followed by giving up adult animals that are kept in atrocious conditions.  Which pretty much includes all adult animals grown for food unless they’re raised on small farms. 

So when I decided to focus on reducing meat intake, I decided to focus on chickens, and my reason was that chickens are more abused than any other food animal.  That isn’t necessarily true.   The giant pens that hold beef cattle can be seen from space.  But I think it’s something about chickens.  They’re birds, and I have a soft spot in my heart for birds.  Baby chicks.  Is there anything cuter?  And hens are good mothers.  They coo at their chicks and herd them around to protect them from danger.  And maybe my choice is influenced by my knowlege of a chicken house in Mississippi during my young college days, where the farmer went bankrupt and thousands of chickens suffocated in their quarters because they turned off his electricity.

Today’s New York Times Magazine has an article about Wayne Pacelle, President of the Humane Society of the United States.  He’s a Vegan.  If I’m ever successful at not eating chickens, and then proceeding to other animals, I’ll never be a Vegan.  Vegans hold that even eating the products of animals is exploitation of them.  So…no eggs.  No milk.  No cheese.  No honey.  What?  The exploitation of bees?  Like bees haven’t been making honey since they evolved from, oh, pterodactyls?  I can’t get my brain to reject the idea of “mining” animals for their products.  Nor do I think it’s bad to eat them once their mining days are over. 

But Pacelle is a smart guy.  He has turned the Humane Society into an organization which calls for the humane treatment of food animals in addition to companion animals.  After all, one culture’s pet is another’s food source.  I think Pacelle is the kind of person who will transform our view of how we treat animals.  For the full article, along with a great picture of Pacelle surrounded by chickens, go here: