Tuesday, January 13, 2015

politics on the side

It is amazing to me how political "diet" has become. Last year, I gave up pork. This year, I am giving up eating beef. Both of those things should be fairly personal decisions. Other than my immediate family, I can't see what impact my decision has on others. But people have been weighing in, sometimes quite vocally.

Why would you do that? What are you doing that for?Are you going vegan? I am mostly doing this because my conscience bothers me. When I think about eating pig, it makes me feel bad. It didn't use to, but it does now. I used to call cows "steaks in leather coats", now I feel gross when I think about eating beef.

Of course, there are more reasons, intellectual reasons. Ethically, I think it's the right thing to do. This is horribly inconsistent -- I still eat chicken and fish. Ethically, that's wrong too. But I have justified it, for now. From an ecological standpoint, it is a no-brainer. It is horribly resource-intensive to produce beef and pork, and very damaging to the planet.

There is, for lack of a better word, religious reasons. I am a Buddhist. I took a vow to not harm sentient beings. Deciding where that line falls, between sentient and non-sentient, is a difficult one. Pretty much I have come down on the side of -- if it can form friendships, it is sentient. Not a perfect definition, but something I can work with.

There are health reasons. My family has a history of heart disease. Lots of it. My doctor recommends I follow a hearth-healthy diet. I should limit red meat, eat plenty of veggies, whole grains, healthy fats. If you are over 40, you have heard this spiel or a variant of it before. I also eat oatmeal several times a week, but no one seems to find that offensive.

But people do take offense. They loudly proclaim that they will never give up meat. They spend a lot of time telling me how delicious bacon is, how wonderful steak or hamburgers are. I know that. I love the taste of meat. This has not been an easy choice for me to make. I get how good what I am giving up tastes.  Apparently my decision makes people feel I am questioning their choices. I'm not. It makes people defensive. Relax -- I am not judging what you eat, only what I eat.

My choice is not prescriptive. You do not have to follow my lead. Eat what you want. Just let me do the same.

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