Yeah, eating with omnis


I just got back from the SharePoint Saturday speaker’s dinner. I’m not actually speaking this year, but I got to because I’m one of the organizers. It was good to meet a handful of new people. Dinner was a nice salad, a completely uninspired and practically unseasoned vegetable pasta dish, and sweet potato fries with an ungodly amount of salt on them—but I knew Greg’s Grill would be like that. They just don’t go out of their way to cater to vegans—their thing is steaks. And we get to go back there tomorrow for SharePint. Rats. I really pulled hard for Broken Top Bottle Shop, which was much better in a variety of ways—location, food, beer, atmosphere, staff—but my co-organizers just wouldn’t go for it.

This was the first time in a long time that I have eaten dinner with non vegans. I had to consciously look away from their slabs of used-to-be cow and try to not to think A. How gross, and B. How sad it is that they’re blithely eating the body of a smart, conscious creature who was tortured and then killed, merely for a taste preference—and one that is grossly unhealthy for you at that. These are otherwise smart people, and I used to be one of them, so I try not to be too hard on them. I did wear my “Wings are for flying, not frying” shirt as a sort of passive protest. But I doubt anyone even noticed, or cared. The whole thing is frustrating and now I’m bummed out.

At least tomorrow there will be vegan options all day long, because I was in charge of catering. Ha! If I were really brave, I would have ordered all vegan food.

Makes me think of this Op-ed I read recently that highlights how lonely veganism can be sometimes.

Try to imagine what it feels like to be a part of a very small minority that shares common values. When I tell people I’m vegan they look at me as though I’d just landed from Mars, roll their eyes as though I had done something wrong and look at me as if I’m judging them – as if the ideological choice is about them and not the animals. Being vegan means that sometimes you feel lonely even among close friends and family. There is a huge ideological gap between you and almost the entire world around you. The worst is when an argument about morals begins.

As a lawyer and lecturer I’m used to arguments, but this is not just an argument, it is a repressed war. And when it rears its head, even for a moment, it is very painful and reminds me of how separated I am, ideologically, from most everyone else. I sit next to those closest to me while they are eating meat and I do what I used to do back when I also ate meat: Repress my emotions. Imagine that you are the only one at the table who believes in this very important value, and that value is being eaten at that same table. All I can do is look at my loved ones and remember that they too have morals. A person can eat meat and contribute to the world in a thousands different ways: Charity, generosity, love (for animals as well), integrity, compassion. There are so many good people in the world.

And then I look at myself and think: ‘You’re no saint either.’ Vegans hurt animals in so many ways, unintentionally. And what is it that I am really doing for the animals? Close to nothing; a monthly donation to animal welfare organizations and veganism. When I walk past a chicken coop, a cowshed or a stray dog I remember how meager my contribution to animal welfare really is. Veganism merely reduces the harm I am causing to the animal world.

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