No, I’m Not A Vegetarian, Vegan, Raw Foodist, or… Anything-ist

sarma melngailis oneluckyduck i am not a vegan 01 No, Im Not A Vegetarian, Vegan, Raw Foodist, or... Anything istPhotographer Sarma Melngailis

My favorite quote on the issue of being vegetarian, or not.  Exactly why I don’t call myself a vegetarian, vegan, raw foodist, environmentalist, or anything-ist.

“I think that people have framed this conversation in absolutes. Either you are or you aren’t. The word vegetarian, I think, does a disservice because there are a lot of people who care but maybe don’t care, or can’t care in an ultimate way. If you think about environmentalism, nobody would ask, “Are you an environmentalist or not?” The question doesn’t make any sense. And the notion that the first time you drive in a car or fly in a plane that you should throw your hands up in the air and say, “Okay, well I give up. I’m not going to try at all anymore,” is crazy. If people thought about food more like how we think about the environment, a lot of people would be eating differently and the whole system would look a lot different.”

Jonathan Safran Foer, from an interview about his book Eating Animals, with Kiera Butler for To see the whole interview click here. To see his book on Amazon… here.

I get asked a lot if I’m vegetarian, or vegan. I don’t call myself or think of myself that way, even though I eat that way most of the time. Just not 100% of the time. And I don’t like rules. Some people are absolutist about it which is actually admirable, but it’s not what works for me. And I don’t think pushing absolutism onto others is what will change the world.

People! Just… shift. I hear this a lot: ”Oh, I tried to go vegetarian but it was just too hard!” Well, did you try just maybe eating less meat? Same thing with being raw. If the goal is to get more people in the world to shift more to raw plant based foods and be healthier (and happier), lets just make it appealing! Not act like it’s a strict way of life, or requiring all kinds of sacrifice and change, which is intimidating.

I may care about the environment enough to recycle, compost, drink out of my own metal bottles, and generally try to be less of a “consumer” of stuff, but I’m still going to hop a plane to Tokyo if I get another invite, and sometimes I take really long showers. It all comes down to thinking about living in a community, which includes animals too, and an eco-system that’s getting seriously messed up. If everyone knew what was happening to the fish in the oceans and what that’s doing to our environment, people would be eating a lot less tuna melts. Or, I’d hope so.

I’m sure anyone who loves JSF’s book and has tried to gently pass it along or suggest it has heard “Oh! I heard about that book. I don’t want to read that… isn’t it going to make me want to not eat meat anymore?” I want to push my head through a wall every time I hear this. Or, push theirs! I mean really… really?? Did you really just say that? Why do so many people have this response?
Part of me wants to shove their face in the book, strap them down in front of the right documentaries, and ask, “Really? You want to keep on F-ing up the world for everyone else, keep everyone on the destruction train until we crash, just because somehow the idea of shifting what you eat is too… too what? Offensive? Difficult?” You really don’t want to know what you’re eating?

Then I try to relax and get back to my optimistic state. I try to stay far away from being judgmental. But I don’t think what I’m writing here is about being judgmental–it’s  about wanting people to be informed. And also, I really don’t want to push anyone’s head through a wall. I mean, I don’t think so.

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  • Dr. Schoen

    I couldn't agree more. it's so easy to be dismissed once we label ourselves, and we're all fluid in our lives, not rigid. I'd never insult a host who invited me to dinner by not eating what I was served, or put all kinds of restrictions on them to meet MY dietary choices. I'd eat what was served and be grateful.

  • Michelle

    This is well put, I was strict raw for almost 2 years and then just stopped altogether because I went on holidays and wasn't able to eat strictly raw. I still think eating raw is healthy and I still incorporate it into my life.

  • ShawnModel

    The most important insight of this article is the fact that people would much rather "stay in the dark", than come into the light… And we seemed to be hard-wired to do this… And if we're all honest, we've been this way too. It's really about having the willingness to change YOURSELF, and that only comes from being aware that change is necessary in the first place. Great post, thank you.

  • Rebecca Hawkinson

    Very well said. I have been eating mostly raw for the past few months, but whenever I have something like a piece of cheese people are quick to point fingers and call me out. I think it's just to make themselves feel better about the crap that they eat.

  • Gapt

    If you sometimes eat animals then you are not a vegetarian or a vegan. Simple. I think the quote by JSF is lame and a nice excuse for those who sometimes eat animals to make yet another excuse.

    Either you eat animals or you don’t. Either you care about the environment or you don’t.
    If you eat animals once a week then you are supporting cruelty once a week. Considering the human body designed like a carnivore or omnivore: we don’t have the claws, jaws, fangs, intestines, enzymes etc…. we cannot chase down and animal and kill it with our own hands and eat from the carcass, like real carnivores/omnivores. Therefore there is no excuse for always or sometimes eating animals besides selfishness and greed.

  • Gapt

    ooops mistake in comment below. The human body is not designed like a carnivore or omnivore…..

  • Sidney123

    For me it’s about the ethics (or lack thereof) of eating other sentient beings, so I just don’t get this ‘raw’ thing at all. Is it suppose to be more ‘healthy’ or something?, because unless what you are eating ‘raw’ is organic and protected by a bubble, it’s still going to be subject to pesticides or pollutants and hence no more ‘healthy’ than anything else, so please stop kidding yourselves. I think a lot of these ‘raw-foodists’ are just trying to be ‘trendy’, but if they’re anything like me, they must get a lot of gas which isn’t trendy at all!!!

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