I’m A Vegetarian & I Support Animal Rights, But I Ain’t No Britta Perry

By on June 16, 2014
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I’ve always found it strange, the animosity you’re met with when admitting to being a vegetarian. You can see people become physically agitated and begin calculating snarky remarks, or reasons to eat meat, in their head. A lot of people suit up for a battle, and for me, it’s really unnecessary. I don’t go door to door trying to encourage other people to go meatless, what you eat is your prerogative.

Not eating meat is a choice I’ve made. I don’t lecture others on making the same decision anymore than I would lecture them about other aspects of their life. I know how I feel when I’m trapped listening to someone go on and on about their love of crossfit or how amazing their new protein powder is. I wouldn’t put others through the pains of listening to me go on about my choices.

I don’t claim to be a superior health, “my body is my temple” kind of person by not eating meat. To be honest, I substitute far too often with carbs and I have a mild Pepsi addiction. I’m definitely not the poster child for health, and I would never pretend to have “tips and tricks” for other people to change their eating habits. I simply don’t eat meat.

When you tell people you’re an animal lover (or worse yet) a vegetarian, you’re usually confronted with reactions that look like this…

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I make a serious effort to NOT sound “self righteous” or “holier than thou” when I tell people I don’t eat meat. Most people will automatically toss you into the “annoying hippie” category and from there the assumptions start flying. No, I don’t think I’m “better” than anyone else because I don’t eat meat.  Truth be told, I don’t like the taste or texture of red meats and that’s a big underlying reason I chose not to eat them. Other meats I chose not to eat because I can’t help but picture the animals who suffer in the industry. However, this doesn’t mean I think I’m more disciplined than others and I don’t think because you eat meat you endorse animal cruelty.

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I think the perspectives on vegetarianism just need more middle ground. Someone who feels they are vegetarian but eats fish occasionally, are not “frauds” or “liars”. They just have a different approach. It doesn’t HAVE to be an all or nothing deal. If someone were very religious but missed a day at their respective place of worship, they aren’t suddenly somehow “less devote”. You don’t “succeed” or “fail” at being vegetarian, it’s a daily choice that doesn’t need so much scrutiny and judgment.

I become more passionate when I speak about animal rights. Admittedly, I usually have to remind myself to leave my “soap box” at home. Having done a lot of research on the topic I do have an astounding number of stats and reality checks in my mind, but remembering the time and place to share them is important. Having passion is great, but no one wants to be lectured. No one wants to hang out with Britta when she starts in on another cause.

The trouble I have is, like with vegetarianism, people don’t see any middle ground. Mention you’re an animal rights supporter and they immediately ask “Are you one of those PETA freaks?” While I support a lot of PETA’s initiatives, there have been times where I think they’ve gone too far. Or rather, individuals associated with the organization have gone too far. Do I think people should kill other people who have abused animals, no. Do I think extremism is ever the way to go about something, no. Approaching anything with animosity is not the way to go and won’t get you very far in my opinion.

I struggle when people have good intentions but don’t back up their words. Hitting “like” on Facebook or “retweeting” on Twitter, isn’t enough if you turn around the next day and take your kids to the zoo. Watching Black Fish and then heading to Sea World or Red Lobster, to me, seems a little nonsensical.

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I got locked in a dreaded Facebook Comment battle once regarding the existence of Zoos (I don’t believe in them) and it really went nowhere. In the end, no one changed his or her perspective or viewpoint. The argument was something along the lines of:

My viewpoint: Zoos are in the business of making money, period. Conservation is not their main priority; it’s a great PR line. Very few zoos register their animals on the international species database and most zoo animals are not endangered at all. Even though there are thousands of endangered species, zoos have only been able to return about 16 species to the wild with varying level of success.

Zoos spend huge amounts of money on their breeding programs, even though breeding animals in captivity isn’t the best way to help in conservation.  It is at least 50 times more expensive to maintain elephants in zoos than to protect equivalent numbers of elephants in the wild. The welfare of the animals comes second to the dollar sign.

Their viewpoint: Zoos must exist so that we can educate the next generation and interest youth in conservation and animal protection. It’s an investment in the future of endangered species.

My Counterpoint: No animal should have to suffer now, for the possibility of a child taking interest a decade later.

As I said, the argument went nowhere. We both merely dug our heels in deeper and became more entrenched in our own views, but the discourse was sort of a win either way. Opening the floor for conversation does make a difference and can help people to at least comprehend views outside their own, even if they don’t adopt them. Understanding is where communication begins to succeed in making changes.

Before I start to sound too preachy I won’t address my other animal rights arguments, that’s not what this article is about. The purpose was to make people rethink how they view people who are passionate about animal welfare and their impact in this arena. The next time you meet a vegetarian or an animal rights activist, set you’re assumptions aside and give them a chance to prove that we aren’t all obnoxious. We don’t all want to “convert” you and just because we aren’t dressed in hemp we made ourselves, doesn’t mean we care less. Compassion for each other and for animals is not something we should limit.

 

 

Jessica Strickland

About Jessica Strickland

I’m a lady whose ordinary, needs that ‘extra’. With a background in corporate communications, I love the thrill of connecting with audiences and engaging with their interests. I’m fairly certain in a past life I was a mermaid…ok, I’m totally certain. One day I’ll be living ocean side again. I love animals, and my golden retriever puppy Briar, is my pride and joy. @pr_in_heels http://jessandbriarblog.wordpress.com

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