This is a spin off from another topic, but one deserving it's own podium, I do believe. 
I once saw a T-shirt that says "Nobody likes a vegetarian." 
Frankly, I find it hard not to agree. 
Some vegans think that vegetarians are too 'soft' about environmental issues. The ones I've talked to said that they could at least forgive a meat eater, because the meat eaters are fundamentally unaware of their transgressions, but vegetarians ought to know better. They have the knowledge to make informed decisions, but still choose a life of self indulgence over a life of compassion. 
Meat eaters aren't any more kind. I'm a meat eater (though I frequent this group because I am always trying to cut back on meat consumption. I like the ideas and recipes that can be found here.) and I often feel like the vegans are forgivable for their trespasses because they are good hearted but misguided.Vegetarians, on the other hand come off as holier-than-thou but hypocritical. 
So if you are a vegetarian, chances are that the vegans don't like you, and the meat eaters don't like you. 
Fuck, man. Nobody likes you!

Actually, that's not exactly true.
Other vegetarians like you. There are even a few meat eaters that admire what you do, even if they don't/can't/won't. 

I know that for the most part, I admire anyone that's willing to put a little work into making the world a better place. 
I also know that I get annoyed with the same old arguments that I feel I have justified time and time again when I talk to a vegetarian about my personal diet.
Vegetarian backlash is real. It harms the environmental cause, and deep down, I think the vast majority of us feel some sort of connection to the planet. 
So what do we do? How do we keep open dialog when it's a subject that many people feel passionately about? 
How do you begin dialog with people of different eating habits?
How do you respond when your own are criticized? 

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Replies to This Discussion

I am a vegan but I was born into an ovo-lacto vegetarian family. I don't resent vegetarians, I just think they are making steps in the right direction as the person who also cuts back on meat. People are as convinced that their diet is the right way to go just as people are convinced that their particular brand of religion is right. This human behavior spans a large spectrum of subjects beyond diet and religion. It also covers politics and many other social and cultural norms. We have to learn that in order to make a change in the world their must first be understanding and tolerance. What might be right for me does not mean it is right for everyone else. In order to educate anyone you must keep an open and friendly dialog so diplomacy can have any effect at all. Unfortuanatly most people just build walls of indignation and self rightousness instead of open lines of communication. That is the reason for such Tee shirts.
I don't judge other people's eating habits. I think that's arrogant. I'm ovo-lacto veggie. I meet up with a Vegan / Veggie group once a month. We don't judge each other for our diets or other people. When people do it to me, I just think, "They are probably ignorant about this." and let it roll off my back.
I too am an omnivore and believe it to be the norm for H. Sapiens as substantiated by thousands of years of omnivorous behavior.

And, the environmental damage being done by our industrial agricultural systems is a direct result of our failure as a species to manage our population - PERIOD.

The solution is not to move us towards vegetarianism - a la Soylent Green - but instead to acknowledge our failure and its consequences and take the steps necessary to deal with this issue.

Hello, is anybody there?
See, I can handle someone saying "I admit you're right, it's wrong to kill animals, but I just can't make the step to giving up meat" because I know they've at least thought about it and from there it's up to them to decide how they wish to proceed.

What really bothers me is ignorance in the form of "I too am an omnivore and believe it to be the norm for H. Sapiens as substantiated by thousands of years of omnivorous behavior."

Slavery existed for thousands of year, does that mean it's good? Murder and rape are natural. So should we be doing those things too? Of course not. We have the capacity to understand harm to other beings and the capacity to withhold from causing it.

If you think the situation through and decide continue eating meat anyway, well, I don't like it, but it's not my business to interfere. But for goodness sake think it through first. If people did, I expect there would be many more of us veggies around.
This topic is important, and well worth discussing, but at the same time I feel that vegans and vegetarians are such a small minority that our impact on others is minimal at best. It is true that our numbers are growing, and the media has picked up on the health and environmental benefits of eating less meat, but unless you live in a really progressive community, chances are you rarely meet a vegetarian, let alone a vegan.

I used to frequent another Atheist networking site, and I was amazed to find the intense hostility there toward vegetarians! I mean full blown anger and nasty, nasty commentary. My rationale for much of this hysteria, was the fact that even though I was dealing with a godless community, most of them had not yet dealt with the many other ways that religion has been infused into our culture, having been ingrained in us from the get-go. Feeling that we humans have dominion over this planet and all living things, is clearly a biblical edict, but it's embedded in our culture, and since we humans think we are the best things going for this planet, all other life is ours to use and abuse at will. This is just one significant example where religion impacts our 'belief' system, without us being aware of it's origin.

To me the anger generated by most Americans toward vegetarians is the same type of irrational anger that the Tea-Party members generate toward national health care reform, global warming, education, science, etc. Honestly, most vegetarians I know will not confront meat eaters directly. They have an extremely 'larssez faire' policy toward the dietary choices of others, which I'm not in agreement with.

My main reason for being a vegetarian is because of the inhumane treatment of our farm animals. I'm happy that my health and the environment are benefited by my not eating meat, but I feel that as a evolved species in the 21st century, in a country where food choices and availability are abundant, we should be conscious of the fact that the sirloin steak on our dinner plate (that we bought neatly cut and bloodlessly wrapped at the grocery), was once a living earthling, is just as entitled to their life, as we feel our lives are to us.

I suppose this is controversial to most, but to me it's just rational.
yup, I've had people get red in the face with me, and i don't go out of my way to advertise my vegetarianism. I certainly don't hide it, and if someone asks me why, I tell them. It's simply a fact taht I think eating meat is cruel, and I have a solid argument to back that opinion. It's not my fault if some people haven't figured that out. The fact that they direct their charged emotions at me is childish IMO. The people who do ask me why I'm a vegetarian aren't usually the ones who are likely to suddenly foster contempt toward me for it, so I think they're the ones who are actually interested, rather than interested in trying to somehow prove me wrong on teh matter. For those who do get pissy, I think their frustrations comes from being unable to build a solid case against vegetarianism, yet still believeing it's somehow wrong. The real probelm isn't their inability to figure out the case against vegetarianism, it's that there is none and they don't realize it.
You might be interested to add your 'two cents' in this civil discussion going on, Where should we draw the line with regards to Animal Rights?
Maybe my view is skewed, but every vegetarian I've ever met either was because of religion (Seventh-Day Adventist) and/or because they thought it was healthier (raised SDA but no longer practicing). The irony of it being that their actual diet is typically so unhealthy; way too many carbs, not nearly enough protein, and far too many fried things. So the vegetarians I've interacted with have not made the choice based off of educated reasoning.
Yeah, I do figure my view on it is skew, especially after seeing some of your comments (here and in other discussions).

My grandmother fried almost every vegetable she served (except salad), usually in a cornmeal batter. The only other cooking method I recall with her vegetables was boiling them to death-and-beyond. Almost every lunch/dinner had a pasta dish. And for any given meal we would consume at least two loaves of bread.

My mother cooked the exact same, until we were old enough to object some. My father left the church when I was in fourth grade, so meat was added to the table then and a whole new world was discovered. In adulthood I've spent a lot of time trying to help my mother learn how to eat healthier with better balance while maintaining her 'no meat' beliefs.
well, I'm a vegetarian, I've attended parties and rallies where hundreds of vegetarians or vegans have met, my wife is an ecologist, so all of her circle of friends were vegetarians when we met, and I've only ever met veggies who do it out of compassion (most of them) or for environmental concern (which ultimately boils down to compassion). I've literally met many dozens of vegetarians.
I am a meat-eater who eats about 1/2 the meat that the "average" person eats and only eats humanely raised and killed meat. I'd go vegetarian (and would become vegan by default, as I can't eat eggs, dairy, etc as it is) if I could, but my allergies and intolerances prevent me from doing so healthily.

I quite admire most vegetarians and vegans, but some definitely inspire my ire. Those are the ones who are always preaching about how everyone who eats meat is lazy or stupid or indolent because they're still eating meat. They refuse to acknowledge that the subject is one of personal morality and beliefs and try to act like it's a matter of being right or wrong. In short, they remind me of religious fundamentalists: intolerant and equal parts uninformed (about the views of others) and overly informed (about the things that support their views). I've even had a few call me a liar when I said that I was unable to find a healthy vegetarian diet that worked for me.

So in short: if you're the sort who brings it up maybe once or twice, maybe offers help to friends if they ever decide to go vegetarian but otherwise just requests that there be a veggie/vegan option, two thumbs up. If you're the sort who goes on and on about it or even refuses to be friends with meat-eaters... well, please just stay far far away from me.

PS: I absolutely love having my couple of veggie friends over for dinner parties because they can often show me a new dish that I haven't heard of and give me one more option for the many meals I do eat without meat. The thing is that we both have to be tolerant: I cook with no meat, they cook with no beans, dairy, eggs, etc.
No beans?


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