Of course, I could just as well have substituted meat eater for religious, racist, misogynist… Why, do you say? In short, it comes down to values.
Let me give you a few examples. If you want to discuss whether or not God exists – do you think it would be a good idea to list proof that God doesn’t exists? Probably not, because if you’re a faithful believer proof isn’t part of the equation. Either you believe or you don’t, as simple as that.
Let me give a similar example with another belief system – racism. The racists in this example truly believe that black people have less intelligence than white people. They even provide proof that they have smaller brains. Would that matter? Probably not, because in your belief system there isn’t any difference in intelligence between these two groups. And the racists believe that it’s true. Would you two have a fruitful discussion? The most likely outcome is that at least one of you will walk away in anger and no one would have changed their minds.
Now, I’ll go back to where I started, with the meat eater – or omnivore which is a better description, since no human is a carnivore like, for instance, a lion. In this example this omnivore will discuss the matter about eating meat with a vegan. The omnivore truly believes it’s ok to eat the flesh of another living creature as long as it’s one of the animals that is classified as a provider of meat. Where this line goes is a bit blurry, but it could be cows and pigs, but not dogs. The vegan truly believes that it’s not right to eat the flesh of any other living creature. Would a discussion about veganism be fruitful between these two? Would either of them change their minds after the discussion? Probably not.
I realize that there are different kinds of vegans, but in this case I’m talking about ethical vegans (which is the normal definition of vegan – ethical strict vegetarian). I’m sure an omnivore would have a fair shot in the discussion with someone who is vegan only for health reasons, providing facts about health issues. And the vegan might have a shot if the omnivore has mixed feelings of eating meat, but perhaps believes it might not be healthy to change or s/he might be afraid that his/her knowledge wouldn’t be enough for a change.
In any case, take a look at yourself. Why do you want to engage in a discussion with someone whose values are completely different from yours? If the reason is to learn about how other people think, then go for it. That’s usually why I discuss with religious people (about religion). To understand them better. Their belief system is so far removed from my own.
If the reason is that you’re frustrated with how things are – that’s usually why I engage in discussions with omnivores (about meat eating) – then think twice. Do you really think you can change their values? If not, perhaps you should step away. You’ll only end up even more frustrated.
If the reason is that you want to ridicule the other person, think again. One day you’ll meet someone that’s better at it.
Values is the key here. They are so much harder to change, both for yourself and for the one you are talking with. Accept them as they are. At least for the time being. Not because you think they are doing the right thing. In my case, there are days when I just want to shake some sense into them, to make them see that they are eating sentient beings that have just as much right to live as they do. And there are days when I still cry over all the poor animals that suffer and die because some people want to eat their flesh. I still wish for a peaceful world where animals and humans can live in peace side by side. But that Utopia is so far away. No matter how much I want it to happen, arguments won’t change the values of other people. At least not in the short run. In time, I hope that things will change.
Instead, try just showing them a good example. Show them that it’s alright to hang out with people from another country. They are just like you and me. Show them that it’s perfectly healthy to eat vegan food, that it’s just as tasty and tell them about how individual your pets are. That they get sad and happy just as you do. Show them that gay people are no different from others.
Unfortunately, at the moment, that’s all you can do. Just do what’s right, set a good example and hope for the best.
No matter their reason for choosing to forgo meat, vegetarians and vegans are certainly entitled to eat how they’d like. And yet, despite noted benefits like increased happiness, reduced stress and even potentially longer lives, many report facing confusion and disapproval from carnivorous dining partners.
Vegetarian And Vegan Pet Peeves: What Not To Say To Someone Who Doesn’t Eat Meat.
Chickens may be brighter than young children in numeracy and basic skills, according to a new study.
Sign the petition here.