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.
— Mark Noble