About the "pushiness" of vegetarians

This letter is in response to Scott Smith's letter [Nov. 4] about the pushiness of vegetarians. I want to admit two things — I still eat my Italian grandmother's meatballs when I visit, and I will most certainly eat meats from Hickory Nut Gap Farm —  but that are not the issues or concerns that I feel most vegetarians are preaching about. I don't buy meat, and I might eat meat once a month, if that. I am also a personal trainer who is of healthy body weight, and I brew my own vegetable-based evening entertainment.

I think vegetarians are concerned with the "lazy meat-eater," the one who eats fast food chicken 'n' biscuits for breakfast, Hot Dog King for lunch and fried chicken for dinner, washed down with their favorite high-fructose, corn-syrupy, 20-ounce drink — and the only green thing they encounter all day is the soggy lettuce they remove before they eat the burger.

People who hunt their own meat, clean their kill and eat it up are OK with me. But again, hunters are clearly the minority of people. Ask a kindergartner what animal is in their liverwort, bologna or hot dog, and they will blindly say "meat." There is a huge disconnect from our food, and the consequences of this is multiplied 10-fold by a disconnect from our meat. The waste of resources, the conditions of slaughterhouses, the corruption of the system that lobbies for slack restrictions on meat companies (so they can serve you a cheap product, so they can make their stockholders happy) and the clearing of natural landscapes to feed livestock (when was the last time you heard about the Amazon forest being torn down to plant more broccoli for the locals? this doesn't happen).

If the world is clear-cut so you can eat a crappy hamburger for a buck, then that is everyone's problem, including our health-insurance companies who will be paying for the bypass surgery or diabetes meds for the last 20 years of people's lives (until they finally pass away at the young age of 65).

Don't get me wrong; you can get a nutrient-dead tomato from China just as easily as you can get a hamburger from across the pacific. Vegetarians just want people to take more stake in their food and know where it comes from and the consequences of their buying dollar's power: If you buy it, it will come!

— Mark Strazzer

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