Tackling Veg*n Stereotypes
People who are new to the idea of veganism will inevitably ask questions, and bravo to them. They may ask why you don’t eat meat or how long you’ve been vegan. Then there are the more annoying questions which require more composure, essentially those which brush up against stereotypes like, where do you get your protein or how do you know plants don’t have feelings too?
It is with practice and patience that I have learned to respond to these questions with sincerity and a smile. Of course there are occasions when people are looking for an argument in which case I either ask ‘are you serious?’ or help them follow their question to its logically conclusion – and it’s usually pretty ridiculous.
Most importantly I try to explain that being vegetarian or vegan is a choice. People choose to be vegan based upon their beliefs and with love for their family and their planet. There are no stead-fast rules or requirements. People can become vegan overnight or over years. ‘People in transition’ may call themselves pescetarians (meaning they still eat fish) and some vegans will eat honey whereas others will not. Vegetarians and vegans consider the repercussion of their decisions and make their own choices.
Is Synthetic Meat Vegetarian?
So imagine my surprise when reading this feature by Chi Chi Izundu of the BBC News, published this morning and entitled “could vegetarians eat a ‘test-tube’ burger?”.
It is essentially a piece discussing the scientific progress of creating meat in the laboratory. The snazzy title is used to reinvigorating a recycled story. I’m genuinely interested in people’s opinion on this topic and the article provides a variety of perspectives from reliable groups on both sides of the camp. I have no problem with this.
In fact the article explains how lab meat is currently synthesized from animal bi-products although scientists believe that in the future they could use samples ‘from live animals through biopsy’. I suspect that this resolves the debate for most vegans.
My problem is with the title. Can you see it? The title uses the word ‘could’ when it ought to read ‘would’. If you think I am being pedantic take a closer look.
Could Vegetarians Eat a ‘Test-Tube Burger? This title suggests that vegetarians live by established rules; That the breakthrough development of lab-meat will require a critique of those concrete rules. It suggests that all vegetarians are the same and follow the same rules – vegetarian dogma. We know this to be false.
Would Vegetarians Eat a ‘Test-Tube’ Burger? You can tell immediately how altering one word changes the entire tone. Here the question is directed to individuals, acknowledging that it is an individuals choice to eat meat, be it from a lab or otherwise.
I definitely prefer the latter.
The article itself covers the issue well and is not nearly as dogmatic as the title suggests. However, it is an example of how some omnivores perceive vegetarians and vegans as ridge and uncompromising. This negativity is neither true nor helpful to our cause.
I suggests this; The next time a thoughtful friend offers you some food and then retracts it with the words, ‘Oh, can you eat this?’ why not smile and say, ‘I can eat it. But I choose not to.’