Would You Lose Friends Over the Food You (Don't) Eat?

Have you ever thought so hard about a Facebook comment, that you ended up philosophising with yourself and even calling into question the very things that you stand for? Don't be silly you say? You're far too busy getting on with being a normal, well-balanced person to care so much about another person's comments? Stop being such a self-absorbed, over-analytical wanker you say? Yeah OK, point noted.

This week however, I have been doing just that. My relationship with Facebook has always been a rocky one - I pretty much detest everything about it but it's just so goshdarn convenient when you live overseas and want to stay in touch with people in different parts of the world. A couple of years ago, I semi-angrily (and probably drunkenly) deleted a huge chunk of my "friends" and hacked my list back to about 200. And when I deactivate my account for a while to take a break, I genuinely feel like a healthier person. I do my best to avoid staring and scrolling vacuously at that screen as much as possible, because it's like some kind of digital succubus feeding on your very soul, gradually and greedily sucking out your intellect every time you log in. In reality though, I'm on it all the fucking time, just like you. But over the past year I've used it for a different reason than simply staying in touch with my people back home, and going Ooooh look at me! Like my photo!

 
The Oatmeal

So, as a young kid I was grossed out by meat. I have a vivid memory from when I must have been about eight years old - contemplating the pork chop on the plate before me, the gristle (even the word gristle - barf) and the bone and the flesh. Eventually I couldn't take it any more and by the tender age of twelve I was an angst-ridden little vegetarian / animal activist wannabe. And pretty much stayed that way for the next 20 years or so. Over the period of those two decades, I always had this lurking feeling that the human consumption of cows' milk and hens' eggs was very weird. Then I found out about the horrific dairy industry and the kind of disgusting shit (literally shit, for example) that goes into it, and so quit dairy a year or two ago in favour of almond milk. Then last year I also quit the eggs and finally went full throttle vegan. It simply didn't make sense any more to know the things that I knew, and believe the things I believed so strongly, but continue to consume animal products and therefore pay for animal exploitation and suffering.

OK so the problem here is that we herbivores are at risk of sounding like sanctimonious douchebags. It's a tragic fact. My husband always used to delight in saying that he never met a vegan with a sense of humour - and even though that's an insulting generalisation it is a sad fact that we can come across as preachy and serious. Hey it's not our fault though - how can you know all this stuff and not feel sad and pissed off with the world? How can you watch your loved ones eat poisonous tripe which caused so much immense suffering to peaceful, sentient beings, who simply wanted to live?



Anyway, back to Facebook. I realise that I am a sucker for sharing and posting photos and videos, such as Mercy For Animals and the very badass Vegan Sidekick. And yes I do sometimes relish in arguing online with hardcore meat-eaters, especially when their information is just plain wrong. So, last week when I posted a link which listed some facts about everyone's favourite gamechanger - bacon - with the line "I wonder how many of my meat-eater friends haven't blocked me yet!"- one comment from a friend back home really hit home. He said that my posts about meat are like somebody forcing religion down your throat - and he is possibly the most chilled out person that I know. At first I was indignant. And then I had to stop and think. Was he right? I would hate if someone tried to force religion - or anything else - on me, and it would likely have the effect of turning me away in the opposite direction. What if, by posting these pictures and videos and trying to spread awareness, I'm actually causing people to say fuck it and start chewing on a raw steak?

The issue for me is one of moral objectivism. If a person believes in a certain religion, whether it's Buddhism or Christianity or whatever - they are not harming any being or causing destruction to the planet. But when it comes to areas such politics and or the massacre of 56 million peaceful animals per year (3000 every second) - I just can't and won't shut up. Not only is pain and suffering being inflicted on absolutely unfathomable levels, but the planet we live on  is also being destroyed because of it.

I'm glad he posted that comment - it's good to get a reality check now and then. But if a few people block me on Facebook and even just one individual decides to give up, or even just cut down on meat or dairy because of my posts (and I know at least one person already has), it's definitely worth it. Giving up meat saves 198 animals per year, and on average extends your life by 7 years. 

So - I guess I can live with being a preachy douchebag.




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