It all started with that damn book by Ron Sider Rich Christians in a World of Hunger. He makes a convincing argument that vegetarianism could help people in poverty in third world countries. He did this by decreasing the demand for grain for cattle in those countries that were being raised for first world country. This would lead to more grain staying in the third world countries and being available for human consumption in that country. It was a simple argument among many he offered and by the last page this young seminarian with knowledge of how the animals were treated and other arguments took the dive.
Evening meals because we (my wife who was coming along for the ride) did not know how to cook vegetarian and we were poor consisted of three can vegetables and a box of cornbread. If we were upscaling we ate boxed macaroni and cheese. At first no one knew of this change but the dinner invitations came and we said we would bring a dish and that we were vegetarian. The friends did not know what to do with this. ’I do not know how to cook vegetarian’ they proclaimed. We laugh to ourselves we do not either but we are learning.
People as they got to know about the vegetarianism began to throw out challenges to the concept. Which was a little offensive because I had become to view it as a religious practice the more along the road I went. Others used ridicule teasing me with their meat dishes when the restaurant only had a side salad for me to eat. It was odd to me when people challenged me and I offered them a multitude of reasons to become vegetarian and asked them in return why were they carnivores and no one was prepared for that question. Simply saying I like the taste of meat as though that was enough of a reason to kill an animal
Everyone took it as a personal affront instead of my personal choice. Everyone would tell me why I should eat meat. Protein was usually the reason. Which I always thought peculiar as they looked up at me from their shorten status and proclaim I was in need of more protein. You know vegetarianism might stunt my growth.
I once asked a leading ethicist at a seminar on Christianity and environmentalism about vegetarianism and environmentalism. He had drank the same poison I had and parroted all the arguments I had come to know. When he was finished I asked if he was a vegetarian. He said no and proceeded to go on an apology tour explaining that he was not because he wanted to be taken seriously by his colleagues who would have thought he was a left wing wacko if he became one. The explanation might have made him feel better but it left me wondering do you not take me seriously.
My vegetarianism was not even safe on communes. Once in an unusual sidestep from his sustainable garden and farming ways the gardener decided that he wanted turkey for Thanksgiving. But of course that meant feeding a whole commune of carnivores turkey too. So to make it all look ‘sustainably’ he bought the turkeys a month ahead of time. So he could fatten them and he would slaughter them on the premises. Now the few vegetarians on the commune were offended by the ideal of this slaughter and the pseudo sustainable nature of ‘raising’ these turkeys. But in the end we lost the debate the slaughter happened. The vegetarians the day after the slaughter wore black bands around our arms to silently protest. This of course sent the carnivores in a tizzy. While I was not the plotter and was not really into the bands but wore one to be in solidarity with my fellow vegetarians was accused of being the ringleader. Which developed into a conversation of why I was a vegetarian but I protested I was a silent majority vegetarian who would convert people by example if at all.
This led to them thinking I was trying to convert the commune to vegetarianism. And they asked a series of questions that damned me. Do you think the commune should be vegetarian? Yes I answered but I believe everyone should live to their own conscience. So do you think your conscience is right on the issue of vegetarianism? Yes I replied or I would not be a vegetarian. So they concluded you think our consciences our inferior? NO I replied. But you think we are misguided on this issue. I grimaced I guess you could say that but I am sure there are things I do that you would consider misguided. They replied,’ Yes your vegetarianism’. I was beginning to get in full giggle mode as I often do when people are so intense over simple differences of opinions.
‘I am sorry we offended you. We believe that we have the best commune family one could ask for and upon close introspection and prayer God has revealed to me that everyone has superior consciences to me. But remember God even used Balaam’s Ass to deliver his word before. And on occasion this ass may be wrong but he will bray as if he knew anything about God’s word.’ I replied whimsically. At this point everyone was close to giggles except for a few who took themselves too serious. One of the carnivores said with a friendly smile, ‘He was satisfied with leaving off the conversation with the comparison of me with an ass.’ The other carnivores and by now vegetarians all with smiles agreed to comparing me with an ass. It was left there and we all lived happily ever after. And on occasion if you were to listen real careful you can still hear the ass braying.