I’m a vegetarian, but you shouldn’t ask why.

I started being a vegetarian back in April, roughly. That’s April 2013, in the optimistic hope that someone might be reading this years from now.

From then on I’ve had people ask “why?” a few times. My reaction is somewhat muted and unsure, and I think I’ve finally figured out why this is.

I used to think it was because my reasons were a bit complex and needed careful wording (they’re not, see below*).

I now realise that I’m actually experiencing a touch of annoyance. When I hear that curious “oh, why?”, my brain hears “you must justify your choice to me”. But I’m not good at expressing annoyance, so my answer comes out as vague stammering.

Having reflected on this, I still think the question is odd. I don’t think you can deny that vegetarianism is the more moral choice (over eating meat). Shouldn’t the question be directed at meat-eaters? It would be a much more interesting conversation if people started asking meat-eaters why they eat meat. I imagine most replies would boil down to:

“I like meat. My parents fed me meat, so I still eat it.”

If this is true, it basically says that you haven’t thought too much about the logic and reasoning behind your actions and beliefs.

This could be bollocks, and I certainly know one meat-eater who tries carefully to eat meat as ethically as possible. For most, I suspect it’s simply a default setting.

Given that, why should the considered choice (being vegetarian) be questioned rather than the unconsidered default (eating meat)?

* my reasons are quite simple. Meat production uses more land and resources than non-meat production. Fishing is bad for the seas and oceans (as a general rule). I’m too lazy and busy (at the same time) to seek out “ethical meat”. “Ethical meat” is expensive. I’m not sure the meat can ever be as ethical as non-meat.

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7 Responses to I’m a vegetarian, but you shouldn’t ask why.

  1. Nice post! Just so you know, I’m never asking you to justify your choice, more so I can check the logic on mine – I think I know most of the reasons for being veggie, but a new one may come along that changes my mind completely!
    Even though I’m a meat-eater, I agree with you – most people don’t think it through enough and shouldn’t be eating meat. I still think people should have to be able to kill and prepare an animal or two themselves if they want to eat meat.

  2. Gordon says:

    Just because you don’t hear the plants scream doesn’t mean they don’t.

  3. fowkc says:

    I think the plants are celebrating. Mechanised agriculture and selective breeding have produced far more copies of their genes than nature alone ever did.

    That’s why turkeys LOVE Thanksgiving and Christmas. Without those holidays, there would be much, much less turkey DNA around.

  4. Mike says:

    I think people ask because humans are naturally omnivores, so a deliberate choice to go against nature is what makes others curious about the rationale behind the decision. The same curiosity will also be extended if one were to only eat certain meats or vegetables.

    • fowkc says:

      Maybe that’s true. Seems odd that it’s that particular unnatural behaviour that get attention, and not (for instance) driving, flying, using the internet…

      I guess it’s because it’s giving up a natural behaviour, not acquiring an unnatural one.

  5. Ree says:

    I have been a vegetarian for 28 years. My main reason is because I have very visual imagination about where meat comes from but you’re right – Why should people question your choice unless it specifically effects them in some way?

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