The true cost of disownment in veganism

aisharebeccawritesSeptember 2, 2016

I recently went out for dinner with a friend and was explaining to them that I had decided to give up fish. They enquired as to why and I explained that A) a fish is an animal and has as much right to life as all other sentient beings on the planet. B) With the amount of destruction we as a society are causing to our oceans, I don’t wish to contribute to that further. The majority of fish are consuming the plastics we uncaringly discard every day and obliviously release are ending up in the oceans and the belly’s of the fish we later consume. *cue eye rolling*. When I said that I now only drink soya milk and am striving towards a plant-based, diary free lifestyle their response was “just don’t go vegan or I might just have to disown you”.

Now this is not the first (and I fear also not the last) time that someone has told me they’d “disown me” if I ever went vegan. Some were even reluctant in my choice to go vegetarian.

So, my thought is this…If someone’s lifestyle choices are not directly harming you, is it okay to dictate how they live their lives? Do we need to question their choices with a fine tooth comb as though we are trying to prove them wrong?

In the 18 years of being vegetarian, I have never once told anyone that I’d disown them if they didn’t stop eating meat (not even in jest). I have never told anyone they cannot eat their slabs of cow or racks of pigs in front of me. I have sat their thinking about the fact that a defenseless animal, (who didn’t choose to die) has suffered to line your stomach, but yet said nothing.

Maybe I got it wrong.  Maybe I should have taken a leaf out of the vegans books. Hats off to you guys.  At least you take every opportunity to tell people why veganism is the right way for animals and the planet alike. Perhaps, I should’ve started that stance sooner. Maybe that’s what I should have been doing all these years. Telling people why vegetarianism is a step in the right direction, and dispensing those who’s life choices didn’t make sense to me. Isn’t that effectively what people have been telling me?

That is effectively what people do when they make jokes about vegetarianism and veganism and “jokingly” tell me they’ll disown me if I ever  go vegan. It’s “too extreme”. I’m sorry I hadn’t realised my choice of foods affected your lives so much.

disown (dɪsˈəʊn)

vb

(tr) to deny any connection with; refuse to acknowledge

To disown someone is to disconnect with them. It truly baffles me that a friend, even in jest would disown someone because you may just have to think harder about the places you eat out, or the meal you cook for them may require you to think outside of the box.

The Box…. isn’t that just it? As humans we like to live inside of our own secure boxes. We follow a set regimen and listen to what the professionals  and agricultural bigwigs have to say on a diet without ever really questioning if we genuinely feel it’s right to do such a thing, or if we do it because its the general concensus within society?
When people question me about why I’ve gone plant-based, (notice I say plant-based and not vegan-I still consume and wear some animal based products-slow and steady to win MY OWN race) and I explain my reasons I often wonder if they are asking because they have a genuine interest, or because they’re finding a way in to some grandeur joke their concoting. Call me paranoid, but I’ve enduered a joke too many not to be and if they can joke so freely what does that actually say about them?
As humans we often mock that which we do not understand. When things are above our understanding and comprehension we often laugh at it to make ourselves feel better, at ease, maybe even less guilty of our poor efforts at questioning life and bucking the trends.
One hundred and fifty years ago, they would have thought you were absurd if you advocated for the end of slavery. One hundred years ago, they would have laughed at you suggesting women should have the right to vote. Fifty years ago, they would have objected the idea of blacks receiving equal rights under the law. Twenty-Five years ago, they would have called you a pervert if you advocated for gay rights. For now society laughs at us for suggesting ‘animal slavery’ should end. Perhaps, one day they won’t be laughing.
Somebody in society had to think outside the box and question if slavery was indeed right or if women should have the same voting rights as men. Therefore, if I and other like minded members of society, choose to question the killing of animals and the cultivation of the dairy industry, is it right to be mocked and judged for that? Why is it so? Is it just lack of understand or choosing not to? Fear of questioning the social norm? Just because society says something is right doesn’t mean it is? If no one questioned blacks right to freedom, would I myself not still be a slave to white families? I sure as hell wouldn’t be sitting opposite my white friends having dinner or joining in the same Christian circles that’s for sure.
So, if all things before that were seen as just, are now very unjust, why not question the justification of eating animals? Don’t get me wrong, some people may just choose to eat animals because they like the taste, it makes them feel good or they simply do not care.
Some of the reasons people often put to me are as follows:-

 

1. “You’re really missing out”

Am I though? If I told all the atheists they were “really missing out” on God (which in my opinion, I believe they are), I’m sure they’d all have something to say about it, or tell me to stop trying to convert them. So each has their own view. Am I missing out? Or are you missing out on trying a new way of living from everything you’ve known and grown up to believe?

2. “God meant us to eat animals”

In Genesis 9.1-5 we read:

Then God blessed Noah and his sons, saying to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the earth. The fear and dread of you will fall upon all the beasts of the earth and all the birds of the air, upon every creature that moves along the ground, and upon all the fish of the sea; they are given into your hands. Everything that lives and moves will be food for you. Just as I gave you the green plants, I now give you everything. “But you must not eat meat that has its lifeblood still in it. And for your lifeblood I will surely demand an accounting. I will demand an accounting from every animal.” (NIV)

 

Okay, fair enough but what about that part that says “I now give”. Clearly that means it wasn’t always this way?

If your going to back up your argument with biblical quotes then I can too. It wasn’t always this way. God intended us to be plant-based dwellers. See in Genesis 1.29-30 we read:

Then God said, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds of the air and all the creatures that move on the ground—everything that has the breath of life in it—I give every green plant for food.” And it was so. (NIV)

 

So, whilst I agree with your point – the one most popular within Christian circles – as a valid reason for the consumption of meat, I do not believe this was God’s original design for our lives. Only after the flood and with less plant-based foods readily available for us to consume, (he’d just flooded the earth, make sense?) he gave us the animals to eat. Fine. I get where your coming from, however, in a world full of growing agriculture and a society that consumes 3 times the amount of meat they did 200 years ago and with growing health concerns (see here) surrounding this consumption, are we not slightly doing the opposite of what God would intend? Are we not ruining the bodies he gave our souls to dwell in? If our “bodies are a temple”, why do we over indulge in things provided for us. Surely reduction should be something at least worth considering? Just saying….

 

3. “It’s the natural order of things”

*see first quote*. At some point someone also felt slavery was “that natural order of things” along with the Holocaust and men being above women in stature.

4.”You can’t survive without meat”

Really? That’s strange. I must be a walking, talking corpse then along with all the other plant-based people of the universe. *smacks palm to face at stupidity of how people think sometimes*

5.”I couldn’t live without meat”

*My turn for eye rolling*. Did you not see point 4? Plus, this one really gets to me. Mainly because I’d be very rich if I had a pound for every time someone said that to me. Also, have you actually tried it? How can you say you can’t do something unless your actually tried? Why not just cut the crap and be honest with yourself. It’s not that you can’t its that you don’t want to. That’s fine. Your life, Your choice – but don’t try to lie about it. Tell the truth. Simples!


I have had these statements directed at me or heard said in general, many a time over the years and still now the only conclusion I can draw is that people don’t or won’t educate themselves, or ask well thought out questions in order to understand why people want to live a life that isn’t steeped in tradition. Often, it is perplexing to them that you’d want to do anything outside of what has always been “normal”. I sat across from a family in a restaurant recently whos daughters had obviously quite recently gone vegan and listened as their Dad basically tell them and the waiting staff how they were abnormal for eating meat. ” I’m having the steak, because I’m normal”.

Okay fair play, you’re entitled to your own opinion, but it just baffled me that this response to their lifestyle choice was so abrupt and in your face. Not once did I see these girls try to question their Dad about his lifestyle choices and his reasoning’s for still consuming meat. They hadn’t tried to bring it up veganism, they had simply ordered off the vegan menu and continued their conversation.

Yet, they were basically told they were abnormal for that choice. I guess it comes back to what I was saying before, people ridicule that which they fail to understand. Like atheists who ridicule Christians or homophobes putting down anyone in the LGBT community. Is it because you don’t understand? Won’t understand? Or mock that which you fear can influence you? After all- talk to them for to long and they might just have you questioning everything you’ve come to know and believe?

So, next time your questioning me about my lifestyle choices, maybe stop and think for a while. Question why your asking me and if that “joke” is really necessary telling for the umpteenth time. Did I laugh the first time? No? Well I’m unlike to find it funny the more times you tell it then, aren’t I?

The next time someone decides to come at me with the “disownment” line or the “people will just think your weird” line so be it. People are entitled to their own thoughts and opinions, but the next time someone jokingly tells me they’ll disown me they might just eat their own words, because maybe next time will be the last time. Maybe next time I might just be the one doing the disowning.


Has anyone felt like they were misunderstood? Not necessarily just for dietary lifestyle choices? Maybe zero waste? Maybe using CSP? If you’ve been the one doing to Luke warm questioning are you simply misunderstanding someone’s lifestyle? Or do you think maybe you yourself are being misunderstood? Maybe that particular community are being “over-sensitive”? Leave your comments below.

*I am all up for open and honest discussions, but any comments that seek to attack, or offend anyone will be removed.*

 

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