[This is a new series we are trying out. Unpopular Opinion translates to: In which I let you speak your mind, whether I agree with you or not, for the purpose of encouraging discussion (and driving traffic). --Jane]
A few years ago, a friend returned from a visit in Spain and said, knowing that I have been a vegetarian since I was nine, “Lauren, you would have really been bothered by the bullfighting.” I was actually the opposite of bothered. I didn’t kill those bulls. And as a vegetarian, I harm fewer animals than non-vegetarians. This news didn’t affect me at all.
I haven't eaten meat in a long time. My parents were both vegetarians, and while I occasionally get nostalgic at the smell of chicken wings or ribs, I have never liked meat. I live in New York City’s East Village, one of the most vegetarian-friendly places on the planet. In other words, being a vegetarian has been the easiest, most comfortable decision I’ve made in my life.
I never beat people over the heads with statistics about butchery or animal cruelty. I let people cook meat in my home, I don’t mind being around it or using plates that it’s been on and I don’t act disgusted by it. I know very well that not everyone could or should be a vegetarian. The world would not go round.
But I do get bothered when people act like they are animal rights activists, but also eat meat. That’s people who act grossed out when they read that other countries are eating dogs, cats or monkeys. People who won’t eat veal. People who don’t wear fur. People who think hunters are evil.
If you eat chicken, eat the shit out of veal, too, and enjoy it. Dance on it. Suck your fingers of the juices. Why draw a line that doesn’t exist? Whether you ate a burger or veal today, an animal was murdered so you could sit down and enjoy your meal. Acknowledge it.
Lots of people say they love animals, when it comes to, say, cute cat videos or their own dog. But as the Smiths said, “Meat is murder.” You cannot say you love animals if you only mean cute animals. You cannot look down upon people who eat dog or veal, or people who kill animals for sport.
Recently it was reported that 30 animals were murdered for the movie The Hobbit, and that is awful. But 30 isn’t an incredibly high number, and actually, animals being murdered for a cinematic masterpiece seems more worthwhile to me than being tortured and slaughtered for your lunch. Why is the death of 30 animals making national news when we kill (I’m going to guess here) 10,000 animals a day for food? You might think that I’m bothered when animals are murdered in movies, but what I find more shocking is that people are so morally offended.
Have you seen "Pink Flamingos"? In it, a chicken is used in a sex scene and killed in the process. In response to angry animal activists, John Waters said, “I eat chicken, and I know the chicken didn’t land on my plate from a heart attack. We bought the chicken from a farmer who advertised freshly killed chicken. I think we made the chicken’s life better. It got to be in a movie, it got fucked, and right after filming the next take, the cast ate the chicken.”
What was life like for the chicken that you ate in your salad today? I bet that chicken didn’t have legs or a beak, I bet that chicken lived in a cage so small it couldn’t move and then was slaughtered as inhumanely as possible. If I were a chicken, I’d want to be the one partying and getting fucked with John Waters.
My grandmother grew up on a farm and she raised the chickens like she raised her kids, and then she ate the chickens. (She never ate any of her kids.) She had a complete understanding of what she was eating. She honored the life and death of the animals she killed. And she would own up to the fact that she killed animals every day.
She was not hypocritical in her views. If someone came on her farm and stole all the chickens and cows and she needed food, she would have eaten the cats and the dogs. Would you? If you went to the store and they were out of the meat you were used to eating, would you eat other animals? Would you eat your pet? I’m seriously asking.
I think you need to think about it, at least. We all do.
This isn’t just an argument for meat eaters to own up to their actions. This is an argument for anyone who has drawn a line between what’s wrong and not, including me, to think about whether or not that lines makes any sense. We all need to know what we believe in and stand for and make sure that how we live our lives aligns with those morals. That is really, really hard to do.