To start this off, I think being Vegetarian or Vegan is fine. It’s a cool thing to do for those with strong social convictions, or caring about their health, food preference, animal rights, et cetera. Whatever the chosen reason. What I really cannot deal with are those particular social-justice-vegans that use their diet and commitment as a bargaining chip for why they are a good person, or insist that every non-vegan is some sort of monster, uneducated, lazy, or cruel. This actually really upsets me sometimes.
I do care about animals, seeing them hurt upsets me, and the way they are treated in the meat industry is despicable. However, plain and simply, there is not much I can do to change my diet, nor do I want to. I would like to consider myself a decently good person. I treat my friends well, my pets are happy as they could be, I give to charities when I can spare it. I try and do good things in the world. Vegans can’t make me change what I eat by guilt tripping me and calling me uncaring or selfish, because I am not being purely lazy or negligent for not choosing to be vegan. I have many reasons for not doing so, as I’m sure most other educated non-vegans do.
For one, I have Celiac, an autoimmune disease which cuts out wheat, barley and other gluten-containing grains from my diet. This eliminates the majority of the bottom of the food pyramid from my food options. Gluten is found in processed foods as a cheap thickener, including the majority of pre-made or frozen vegan and vegetarian meal options at the store. People could argue that I could just make vegan food for myself at home, but there are problems there as well. Cooking on a Celiac diet involves making almost everything from scratch. I am a full-time college student with very little free time to devote to my specialized diet as it is, and I eat perhaps one home-cooked meal a week if I’m lucky. Preparing my own food is expensive and time-consuming. I am not being lazy so much as am trying to keep myself fed on a pathetic budget.
Secondly, and only partially due to my illness, I really don’t feel like fighting my biology more than I have to. Humans are omnivores. Yes, I am aware that nutrients like protein can be obtained from alternate sources like supplements, legumes and nuts, but I also know that nothing fills me up in the morning better than a fried egg or makes me feel better after a crappy, draining day than a piece of iron-rich beef. You can call me selfish for this, but eating non-vegan makes me feel healthy and full. It is terrible that animals have to suffer in large-scale markets, but the facts are that plenty of local farms (such as the ones that I buy from) are perfectly humane. It is also a fact that I need to eat meat and cheese and eggs along with vegetables and fruits and grains to avoid feeling like I’m starving to death.
I don’t want to feel like a monster just because I prioritized avoiding malnutrition over preserving the rights of farm animals.