Pro-Choice Vegetarian: “I Don’t Care What’s On Your Plate”

After lapsing years ago from a vegetarian diet, I recently went lacto-ovo vegetarian, thanks to a recent meat industry slaughterhouse video in the Guardian UK

Yelling

“I know how hard it can be to be vegetarian in such a meat-obsessed culture. And I have been on the receiving end of a few lectures from vegetarians and vegans regarding my food choices.”

Author Vicki (Vix) Chamberlain lives in the vegetarian mecca of Brighton, England, with her husband and two home schooled children. She studies English at the Open University and works part-time.  Vix has been both meat free and dairy free – but never at the same time!

I Don’t Care What’s On Your Plate

 
After lapsing several years ago after a year of not eating meat, I have recently become a lacto-ovo vegetarian again thanks to the recent slaughterhouse footage exposed in the Guardian. It shocked and sickened me just as badly as PETA’s description of live animal transportation conditions did back in 2005.

Sadly, the impact of that message must have faded because in time I started getting back into the habit of meat-eating again, closing my eyes and my mind to the dirty secrets of the meat industry.


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I admit it – I was lazy. It was hard work being vegetarian. None of my family were (and I lived with my parents at the time), and nor was my partner. And I lived in a town where a small branch of Holland & Barrett was the only place I could get any kind of substitute. It didn’t take much for me to take my eye off the veggie ball.

So, I know how hard it can be to be vegetarian in such a meat-obsessed culture. And I have been on the receiving end of a few lectures from vegetarians and vegans regarding my food choices. If only those people knew how annoying they were and how they are driving a wedge between themselves and the fellow human beings they are trying so desperately to convert.

Why, I used to think, would I want to give up meat if it will make me self-righteous, pompous and generally unbearable? So, when I was moved enough to make the change, I vowed that I would be a different type of vegetarian – one who did her veggie thing without getting into other peoples’ faces about it.


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I do tell people I’m veggie, because I want them to see that it is possible to be vegetarian without being pushy. If the other person starts justifying to me why they eat meat I explain to them that I understand their reasoning because it was once my own, and that there is no need to defend their choices to me. And on the whole, the reaction has been overwhelmingly positive.

Once people see that you aren’t going to give them a hard time, their minds open up a little and they start to think, “Hmm, maybe she’s onto something.” And then they feel able to ask some more probing questions about my experience in going vegetarian – questions about the challenges it presents, the type of food I eat and even the benefits of the lifestyle. I will happily answer all the questions they present because it is something I feel good about and want to share with others.

The yum factor of vegetarian food helps, too. My husband, a self-confessed die-hard carnivore, has cheerfully eaten Quorn and textured soy protein alternatives with me – even singing the praises of Fry’s vegetarian mince for how nice it was. Today I found him eating some of my Tofutti cream ‘cheese’ completely unprompted when there was dairy cheese in the fridge as well. He has admitted that it was “quite tasty” and remarked that he has lost weight since I went veggie again and started cooking meatless meals.

Of course it did help that he was prepared to support my choice in the first place – but I have never asked him to give up meat and nor do I expect him to. I believe vegetarianism is a decision that, if made, people must come to for their own reasons, not mine.

So, in conclusion, sermons on animal cruelty do not work. Extolling the virtues in the spirit of converting the other person isn’t that effective either. And that is why I don’t give a stuff what is on anyone else’s plate – because there is no point.

My energy is far better used in improving my own life and hoping to be a positive example to those around me. If they choose to follow my example, that’s great and I will happily be on hand to help them with it if they want me to. If they don’t, then I’m still doing some good by making the choice not to eat meat – and I’m still, hopefully, sending out the message that vegetarians can be fun, open-minded and likeable individuals.

Vicki Chamberlain, Brighton, England, 2.22.11

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2 Responses to “Pro-Choice Vegetarian: “I Don’t Care What’s On Your Plate””

  1. Savvy Veg says:

    Thanks for your thoughtful comment, Jenni. I think a lot of vegetarians wonder why some non-vegetarians feel so defensive when they find out what we eat. I think it’s because they feel they’re being judged and found wanting.

  2. Jenni says:

    Good article Vix

    I have been a Vegetarian for about 10 years now. I also have never been one to push my views onto others but have always been happy to share my reasons when asked. I find then people are often interested to find out more. There is the odd person who feels the need to challange me which I find odd. I don’t ask anyone to justify what they eat so why do I need too I wonder.

    For me it was never the eating of meat that I didn’t want to do, but the eating of meat from an animal mistreated and farmed in a certain way. Although now, having lived healthily on a meat-free diet for so long I can’t see that I would ever go back.

    I agree, our choices are our own and you can never convert, only hopefully inspire!

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