As I’ve said before, I love hearing how and why people connect with their food…and vegetarians have some of the most interesting answers.
(And even though my wife is a vegetarian, I am not.)
My friend Waylon Lewis, publisher of Elephant Journal, is having a great discussion about whether it is “better” to eat lettuce than a chicken. The criteria for “better”, in this conversation, is the pontification on how much sentient life is destroyed in the eating of those two things.
I’ve used this same question to play devil’s advocate with vegetarian friends from time to time…only in fun, mind you.
Waylon and the EJ crew are mulling this topic over from the perspective of sentient life lost through the process of eating one thing over another, but I usually bring up the idea of suffering (because the ending of one life must happen for all creatures to eat).
To a vegetarian that is such because of animal rights values, I would ask,
“Isn’t it possible that the process of ripping a live vegetable from the ground and allowing it to slowly die so that it may arrive on my plate causes that plant more suffering than a chicken who’s neck is rung to bring about a quick death?
Isn’t it possible that because that vegetable isn’t animated in a manner similar to a human that I can allow myself to disassociate from its pain?”
If the vegetarian can discern my spirit of good, clean fun, the conversation takes a light-hearted turn…but sometimes defense mechanisms rise.
I don’t believe that one way of eating is “better” or “worse” than another…but do truly enjoy hearing why people connect with food in the ways that they do. So what do you think? Which death is more painful? The death of the vegetable or the chicken?
[Photo: Village Voice]