Ten Better Commandments of Vegetarianism

I am still reading the Hadley Freeman book. About halfway through she introduces 10 [patronising] commandments of being an unannoying vegetarian, which basically seems to be her way of saying “Shut up! Be quiet! Put up with things: you have chosen a line of suffering, so suffer.” And encompasses some idea that eating food without meat (ever) is unnatural.

So I want to go through her points.

  1. Don’t define yourself by your dietary choices: agree. Do not let this aspect of your life define you. As with any factor, you let that define you, you begin devaluing yourself.

  2. Don’t talk about your poo. As a lifelong vegetarian, this is very strange to me. The only people whom I know talk about their poo with respect to diet are meat eaters who temporarily eat a vegetarian diet. They rave about it. They can’t get over it. But presumably they would if they kept eating vegetarian food, as other vegetarians I have met who once ate meat never talk about their poo. I think Hadley is preaching to the wrong park.

  3. Don’t preach. Really, really agree. Nobody likes anybody else’s views shoved down their throats. But the length Freeman goes on about this for you would think it’s the most important thing. It isn’t. You can express your views and you should: but you should also respect other people’s views and not crowd them. Anyone who thinks vegetarianism is about anything else is doing it wrong.

  4. Don’t talk about your weight loss. If you experience weight loss on changing to a vegetarian diet, either you are doing vegetarianism wrong, or you were doing meat-easting very, very wrong.

  5. Don’t make your non-vegetarian foods eat at vegetarian restaurants. The key word here is “make”. This is where Freeman preaches about the selfishness of vegetarianism and expresses your obligation to martyrdom. Don’t listen to her. Do not “make” your friends eat anywhere they don’t want to, whether vegetarian or otherwise. But feel free to invite them to eat somewhere vegetarian, because remember, meat eaters can actually eat meals that do not contain meat (shock! horror!). It’s actually very unhealthy if they don’t. You, meanwhile, do not have to feel obliged to eat at a restaurant that doesn’t do vegetarian food, living off side dishes and eating properly afterwards at home. You are not a social recluse and you do not have to “suffer” either. Friends should be able to work round each other so that everybody is content. Yes, you can ask for a meat dish with meat taken out: they can only say no. This does not make you a selfish or despicable person, whatever Freeman says.

  6. Don’t eat meat substitutes. WHY WOULD YOU WANT TO DO THIS ANYWAY???

  7. Prepare your responses. Freeman does not make as big a deal of this as I think she should. She admits people will grill you about vegetarianism and suggests you laugh it off, change the topic and avoid discussing it. Vegetarianism, you see, is something indefensible that you should be ashamed of. Personally I think that propagating this attitude only makes it okay to attack people on the basis of vegetarianism, calling them selfish, which as far as I can see is exactly the opposite point: it’s like fundamentalists attacking homosexuals: mob mentality: attack the few to avoid facing your own shortcomings. Whilst laughing it off may be one legitimate way of dealing with attacks on your choices, the real problem is the attacks, and I strongly advocate making people aware of any kind of bullying or victimisation, not shutting up about it. There is asking, and there is grilling. Know the difference.

  8. Help animals. If convenient. Remember, animal suffering is not the only reason for vegetarianism, all dietary choices are a compromise not an absolute, and you do not have to “prove” your allegiance in order to justify the “inconvenience” of your diet.

  9. The world is not your personal caterer. This is basically a repeat of 3. and 5. Freeman wants to make sure that you recognise that by not eating something, you consider yourself entitled and above everybody else. It does not require an extra bullet point.

  10. Don’t go to Eastern Europe. You should consider your dietary choices an imprisonment. Or, you should make yourself aware of limitations such as lack of vegetables in some countries and make sure you factor that in if you do plan to travel. Alice Roberts did it.

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About RowenaFW

I am a Fish. But you wouldn't know it just from looking at me.
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