What Is It Like To Be A Lifelong Herbivore?
Being a vegetarian (or a vegan) is not a new, unique, special concept. Plenty of people throughout history have been 100% vegetarian. It's neither complicated, nor difficult. Here is an incomplete list of people of renown who've been vegetarians throughout history––while lengthy, there are plenty who are missing from this list.
I've been 100% vegetarian, oft-vegan––and now 100% vegan––for a solid lifetime at this point, since the early 90's, despite the fact that no one immediately around me has been. It's not a lifestyle I acquired from anyone, or consistently shared with anyone. It's a good thing I was not concerned with 'fitting in' and didn't give the alienation aspect much thought. I'd always had a live and let live, free-will attitude, so I was never concerned with other people's choices. Nor were they with mine, since I never really talked about it.
Being a veggie was never a 'phase' or a decision I made, and I never felt like it was a big deal. However, if one were to 'calculate' the number of lives spared by my dietary choices, being a vegetarian/vegan in itself can be a rather significant animal rights contribution (approximately 4,700 beings designated as 'farm animals' have been spared in my case.)
And yet, even though it's such an easy lifestyle to have, as time has gone by I've noticed that it's become seemingly more odd to flesh-eaters when they discover that someone lives as a cruelty-free vegan. The need for conformity and camaraderie plays into it, for many.
Meanwhile, it's increasingly discomforting that, given our access to information and exposure to what goes on in the sadistic meat and dairy industries, more people are not becoming vegetarian/vegan (and at a faster rate.) This global love of animal flesh, en masse, supports monstrous industries and a human obsession with 'culture' and 'traditions'. Not reality, not truth.
Entire cultures throughout human history have lived as vegetarians. Longtime vegetarian and animal rights activist Mary Tyler Moore once said she believed a meat-free diet will sooner or later be the norm. "It may take a while," she told Time magazine. "But there will probably come a time when we look back and say, 'Good Lord, do you believe that in the 20th century and early part of the 21st, people were still eating animals?'"
Hard to believe we're no closer to this eventuality now than back when Moore said it. And today, apathy and ignorance are inexcusable. People consciously choose cruelty when they have other choices. Which is unsettling.
And think to how long ago The Smiths recorded 'Meat Is Murder'. Morrissey has been an impressive pioneer, speaking out on the topic of this exploitative behavior without fail, while others haven't.
The reason these outdated behaviors, ones entirely lacking respect for the nature and the lives of our fellows, have continued––and even expanded to outlandish, mass proportions––is that there are bullying industries out there who want to profit from the choices people are willing to make.
All anyone really needs to do to make a big difference is to stop supporting those industries immediately. And to say something about it. Live and let live (and free will) applies to all species. So I do talk about it these days. I stayed quiet for a very long time.
The photo accompanying this article features lifelong vegetarian and animal rights activist Paul McCartney with his late wife and co-veggie, Linda McCartney––who together raised anti-fur/anti-cruelty fashion designer Stella McCartney.