Vegetarians aren’t pushy — but we’ll keep speaking out

In his recent letter to Xpress, Scott Smith calls vegetarians pushy. Not one "to refer to those who may be different in a derogatory manner," he then declares that most of the many vegetarians he knows are "excessively pale and overweight" and drink "large quantities" of beer. Hmm …

Vegetarians are generally healthier than meat eaters. We have lower risk of heart disease, cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure and many other ailments. We are less likely to be obese. It's not even close. Check out the statistics. It could be we are fairer and fonder of beer. I don't know.

While a plant-based diet is healthful, many abstain from meat out of compassion for animals. The "breathing" plants Mr. Smith thinks "need be slaughtered before their flesh can be eaten" are not sentient beings. Having no nerves, they cannot feel pain or suffer. To liken steaming broccoli to boiling a lobster is to trivialize real suffering.

Vegetarians are so pushy that occasionally one "assaults" sensitive carnivores by writing to the paper. Mr. Smith already ignores the battery cage and the slaughterhouse. Why not ignore the letter? His conscience is perfectly at peace with eating animals, Why is he so touchy when someone speaks against it?

Knowing what happens in factory farms and feedlots, what should vegetarians do? Mr. Smith, it seems, advises us merely to abstain mutely from contributing to a system we find objectionable.

Of vegetarians, he asks, "only that you live your lifestyle and be happy and let me live mine." By that logic, people who speak against slavery, intolerance of homosexuals, repression of women, and exploitation of children shouldn't. If Mr. Smith's neighbor enjoys a dogfight in his basement each Saturday night, who is Smith to complain? Should his poor neighbor have to endure relentless attacks on his lifestyle masked as letters to the editor?

Scott Smith wonders whether the next great war will be between those who eat meat and those who don't. It surely won't. Vegetarians are not very fond of killing. A war without killing would not be very great.

If I have been pushy here, I have assaulted nobody. Mr. Smith can ignore this letter or get angry. He can write a brilliant reply that humiliates me. He is free to ridicule all vegetarians while munching veal and wearing a vest made of baby seals. What he can't do is insist that vegetarians keep quiet and then expect us to.

We won't.

— Mark Noble
Asheville

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7 thoughts on “Vegetarians aren’t pushy — but we’ll keep speaking out

  1. jose

    I wouldn’t call some hardcore vegetarians pushy. I’d call ‘em ‘preachy’. Kinda like missionaries out to convert the heathens. (BTW, I am an eater of very little meat and ex-vegetarian). And yes, the arguments for going veggie have merit. The preachiness doesn’t.

  2. I know this might sound kinda silly but why do we assume that plants are somehow less alive, because they don’t talk or move? (at least in a way we understand) Some trees live for hundreds of years, much longer than our lifespan, and they at times seem to me to be more wise that we are, even if it is just in their genetics. They co-exist with all other life forms in harmony benefiting them while benefiting from them,seemingly without effort. What Buddist monk wouldn’t envy that accomplishment? They are proven to be sensitive to energies that people give off as shown in double-blind studies as evidenced by their death or survival based on nothing less than their negative verbal reinforcement, I guess all I am saying is who are we to say that plants to do suffer?

    All in all we all know life survives off of death. There doesn’t seem to much getting around that. We are all aware that almost everything we consume was once alive some point. Why are we so inclined to make a semi-religious mind game out of all of this? I personally don’t eat much meat myself, but I don’t think it would be wrong of me, or anyone, if they chose to.

  3. Asheville Dweller

    Plants don’t have a face so they feel free to kill it at will since it can’t feel.

    What about all the field mice that died in a field of grain when the thresher clears it?? They have feelings too

  4. Betty Cloer Wallace

    Perhaps where people live–from colder climes to equatorial regions–has something to do with the most appropriate, efficient, optimum, healthy diet.

    I lived above the Arctic Circle for ten years, and I assure you that a vegetarian would freeze to death up there. Meat is absolutely necessary to keep up one’s body temperature and energy in sub-zero weather, no matter how warmly dressed you are. The traditional Inuit Eskimos, by the way, are the ultimate meat-eaters, and they have little to no problem with cholesterol or high blood pressure because of the volume of seal oil they consume.

    I cannot imagine, though, eating anything but a “Mediterranean” diet in warmer places. Here in WNC, I feel much better when my diet varies widely from one season to another, taking advantage of seasonal, local foods.

  5. Piffy!

    I think the confusion arises from the misunderstanding of what Scott Smith actually said. He didn’t call Vegetarians “pushy”, he called them ‘pussies’. I think it was a reference to the cuteness of kittens.

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