To celebrate World Vegetarian Day, The Irish Independent decided to let Lisa Jewell, a so-called "veggie", list off and tackle a series of questions asked of her fellow "veggies" ad nauseum by omnivores. "Veggies" refers to her lumping in of vegans and vegetarians together as variations of people who don't eat certain animal products and she lists off the usual things people lob off at those vegans and vegetarians without thinking (or worse--thinking they're being clever), for example: "Wasn't Hitler a vegetarian?" and "Wouldn't you just love a big steak?" or "Do you eat chicken or fish?" She responds to them in the usual manner in which many would, but what caught my attention was where she brought up the question "Does it upset you to see people eating meat?" and responded to it by shrugging it off with an "x is a personal choice" mentality, including a self-described vegan's voicing his own support of that attitude:
It's somewhat ironic that she calls it a "'live and let live' attitude", considering that what she should really be saying is "'live and let die' attitude", wouldn't you agree?
We can't speak for all vegetarians here but why would seeing someone eating meat be offensive to veggies? It's not like we have to eat it ourselves.
"I wouldn't find that an annoying thing to hear because it's actually nice of the person to be sensitive about it," says Conor. "I wouldn't mind someone eating meat in front of me because it's all up to the individual. They make a choice to eat meat and I make a choice to be a vegan."
You'll find that most vegetarians have a 'live and let live' attitude to people who eat meat -- we just also happen to have a 'live and let live' attitude to animals!
Logically, I can see where it would make sense for someone who consumes dairy and eggs to shrug off another's consumption of animal flesh, since there is as much suffering involved in the dairy and egg industries as in the meat industry and since all three involve animal use. However, that vegans are presented as shrugging off any animal use outside of their own personal use, I think misses the point of veganism altogether. It baffles me, still, that a vegan would view the ethics of eating animals and their secretions strictly in terms of his own personal use. I find it unfortunate that this whole "live and let live" thing gets perpetuated as the baseline for most of us. It's just one more thing in the media that leaves some vegans thinking that they should shut up and keep their ethics to their fringe-dwelling selves and accept that it's normal for other humans to use and consume animals. But tell me, how's that attitude going to change anything for non-human animals?