Real v. Fake

27 Dec

My dad took one look at my blog and said “You’re going to offend Catholics.”  He doesn’t know very many vegans I guess.

I had my first hater… A “REAL” vegetarian who took offense to my post on vegetarianism.  Not 24 hours later one of my tweeples was hating on “vegetarian meat” specifically hagis.

I totally respect your ideological purity. That works for you, and it’s really great to have an ideological framework that works for you. I understand that someone who eats pork “when they want to” is not a vegetarian in the sense that their diet includes meat, hence NOT vegetarian.  I also understand that vegetarian hagis is NOT hagis. Hagis is defined as made from organ meat.   You are both right.  But times like these I remember a story…

When I was in college I was a vegan. I went to lunch at the house of my adviser, a Philosophy professor who specialized in Eastern Philosophy.  I had assumed she was a vegetarian, and she confirmed that for many years she had been.   Now she said she occasionally though rarely ate land animals, but pretty regularly ate fish.  I judged. I admit it. I judged her harshly.  She must have seen it in my face because she gently told me the story of visiting a Buddhist monastery in China.  She was there to study Buddhism and was shocked when she sat down to her first meal there to be served beef.  “But how can you take the life of this animal?” she asked.  They gently explained to her that they valued all lives equally. No life was more important than another.  And when they farmed vegetables, every hoe strike of the soil killed several insects.  So a meal of vegetables actually required the probably taking of hundreds of lives.  One cow on the other hand could supply enough sustenance for many meals for many people and they made sure to be thankful to the cow and mindful of its sacrifice for their benefit.

After hearing that story at 20, rather than gaining greater respect for differences, I think I just judged the Buddhists.  However over the years that story has actually stuck with me and been a bench mark for how I see the world.  However, like the Buddhist monk story illustrates, I’ve come to see that ideological purity is often not what we imagine it to be.  Just because a set of actions contradict our expectations doesn’t mean they are “wrong.”   Moreover, many times ideological purity is often used to bludgeon others for not conforming to a value system that has been defined by humans and based on human choices, as opposed to some objective, absolute right or wrong.

I think of the baptist minister who told me at 1o that all Christians would go to heaven but baptists who accepted Jesus Christ as their personal savior and followed the baptist way would sail to heaven in a yacht where as everyone else would go on a dinky raft.  Or Jerry Falwell who insists that attendees at Liberty University believe that the bible is 100% word for word truth. Or the Tea Partiers that insist that the constitution requires gun ownership and no federal regulation of anything.   Mmmm Kay.

I am still spiritually a vegetarian. I still believe in the value system that caused me to strictly follow the vegetarian diet for more than 20 years and to raise my kids as vegetarian.  I spent over 20 years as a vegetarian (with 2 brief periods of lapse) before I started to really accept that I was at a time in my life I needed to broaden my experience and my diet.  You get to an age (aka mid life crisis time) where you realize that life is zipping by and you have not been living every day as intentionally as you could. You’ve hurried days by, wished they would end, tried to move time along, wasted time doing nothing, and seen entire years go by where you just wanted to get from one day to the next.  But our time here is finite.  And when that mid life crisis rolls around one way to handle it is to start living like this is our one chance.  There are some things I’m willing to miss out on.  I’ll probably never get to Moscow. I’ll probably never eat in the under water restaurant in the Maldives. I will never read Moby Dick.  But I CAN try bacon maple chocolate chip cookies, I can try foi gras at one of the best restaurants in the country, and I can try the specialty of the house/region when I go places, like pork bbq in Tennessee, Lobster in Maine, and Crabs in MD.

Life is short. And we only get one go around. I am sorry to the vegetarians I’ve offended, or the Catholics, or the fans of proper punctuation, (just wait til I go on a political rant, I can REALLY offend some Republicans).   If you are looking for ideological purity, or purity of any sort, this is NOT the place for you.

(I have visions of me standing before a crowd with people pointing and yelling “IMPURE! IMPURE!” lol)

So to The real Vegetarian, please Feel free to stick Around And enjoy some Real vegetarian food talk in between the icky meat.  Or you Can not. You are welcome Either way. I appreciate the Opportunity to talk through Some of this Stuff. I was after all A philosophy Major.

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4 Responses to “Real v. Fake”

  1. Incredulous Real Vegetarian December 27, 2010 at 11:38 pm #

    Vegetarianism is not an ideology. It’s a diet. It has a clear definition. People who believe all sorts of things might still rightfully consider themselves Baptists as long as they embrace believer’s baptism and salvation through faith and Scripture. People who don’t hold those beliefs may feel spiritually akin to Baptists, but are categorically not Baptists. Vegetarianism isn’t about beliefs, it’s about not eating meat. Some avoid it for environmental reasons, concern for animal rights, health reasons, to stay thin, religious reasons — what unifies vegetarians is that they do not eat meat. Catholics consider all people baptized Catholic to be Catholics. Some happen to be lapsed. Some women with male partners self-identify as lesbians because they are women-affiliated women. Vegetarianism isn’t about what you believe, it’s about what you do. You may feel like a supermodel, but the fact that you don’t look like one is more than a mere technicality. You’re into social and political activism, no? I would think that would make you realize all that matters is what people do. This BS about feelings and what you “spiritually” are is one of many reasons women can’t get taken seriously. Tell the world you eat meat and that it’s part of who you are. I could respect that. Until then, keep watching rom-coms, cooking meat for you family, and sharing your feelings about “spiritual vegetarianism” on your blog. Just don’t expect to be taken seriously.

  2. Jamie December 28, 2010 at 12:26 am #

    Wow, I wonder if there is some substance in meat that affects one’s sense of humor?

    I really cannot add anything to this thoughtful essay, except to quote Vincent from Pulp Fiction: “But pork chops taste gooood, bacon tastes gooood.”

    Although I do think you have a certain type of zealot who feels they must define and guard the boundaries of their ideology. The problem with this is that it only makes your group smaller not larger. If you really think eating meat is a problem (and I think it is), then you need to celebrate any movement in the right direction – even if for some that means just eating one more meatless meal a week than their norm. That is still progress. Whining about ideological purity only alienates people. Unfortunately, we see this on the Left as well, instead of trying to unite together against the bastards, so much energy is wasted trying to define (and thus exclude) what a Leftist “really” is.

  3. Mike December 28, 2010 at 3:55 am #

    I think the real message here is that people are way too quick to judge, in many aspects of their life. As you mature, you realize that no one is perfect, and that people have their right to crazy beliefs just as you have your rights to yours.

  4. Jennifer England December 28, 2010 at 4:38 pm #

    Well, I guess we’ll just have to agree to disagree. Jamie your comment, and this debate, makes me pine for an afternoon in the grad lounge (or bar) debating and discussing.

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