April 6th, 2005


on being veg

I had this friend in grad school, Lynda. She and I were both vegetarians (Lynda was the only vegetarian I knew who ate pepperoni pizza – I described her once as a “lacto-ovo-fisho-peppo vegetarian”). At one point we were talking about this, and she was going on about the health benefits of a vegetarian diet. “I suppose that’s probably true,” I said. “I don’t know, I never really thought of it that way.”

She was incredulous. “If you aren’t doing it for health reasons, why are you doing it?”

“Um. Because I don’t believe that we should be killing animals unless it’s necessary?”

She couldn’t understand this. That, I guess, is the difference between her and me.

We were at a party one time somewhere in West Philly, comprised primarily of Philosophy students from Temple, UofP and Drexel. I was out on the balcony talking with (I think her name was) Carrie. After a while I made my way in to find the bathroom and had discovered that the party had devolved into heated argument about vegetarianism. People had sort of arranged themselves into a big circle, seated around the room, and were debating ethics and god and superiority of Man and all that crap that gets dragged into a debate about vegetarianism, and a couple people looked like they were about to come to blows over it. Literally. My mission was to step over the people on one side of the circle and traverse the crossfire, then step over the people on the other side, in search of the facilities. I was halfway across when Lynda said, “Brni’s a vegetarian. Explain to them why being a vegetarian is the ethical choice.” “If you can give me one good, compelling and logically sound reason why vegetarianism is necessary to live an ethical life,” someone else said “I’ll stop eating meat tonight.”

Not unexpected, so I didn’t stop or miss a beat. “That’s easy. Because animals are cute and fuzzy.”

Silence from the peanut gallery.

I got to the bathroom, turned the handle.

“What about fish?” someone called after me.

“They’re cute and fuzzy too, if you leave them in the fridge long enough.”

Disaster averted. Relativists and Absolutists, Phenomenologists, Searleans, Hegelians, and Logicians, Pragmatists and Dogmatists (all the religions were there) shared a laugh, and nobody got hurt.