It happens to me frequently. “Is it for political reasons?” I’ve already explained here why I don’t eat meat. It’s not that important; it’s just something I (don’t) do. Still, whenever there is an appetizer platter ordered that comes out a bit larger than everyone expected, people notice that I am not enjoying the wings and ribs, and push them gently on me, and the subject comes up.
Recently when I explained that I just don’t eat meat (my blog entry wasn’t handy), one person inquired, a bit slyly, “Do you think that your not eating meat is going to change what everyone else does or make much difference in the number of forests burned down to raise cattle?” It’s a fair question. My first intuition is to say “No.” I don’t really think that because I don’t eat meat that my dinner partners are going to stop doing so. I don’t think my quiet refusal to eat meat will save many cows or conserve much water. “The meat is already packed and waiting in the grocery store,” people often note.
That is why I don’t eat meat. I decided that these reasons were important enough for me. What you do is up to you! I can’t and won’t force you to act like me and to value the same things I do, so that we really do make a dent in conservation. I can’t demand that others eat less meat, but I’d feel a bigger sham wishing people would, if I couldn’t do it myself.
Except that it does make a difference. My not eating meat makes a bigger difference than “2,500 gallons of water per each pound of beef.” It makes more difference than gallons of chicken litter dumped into the Illinois river. In fact, the next time we order the nachos, my friends might forego the chicken so that we can share. They try to the tofu at the Thai restaurant, and we enjoy a family-style meal. They tell me that they really liked the tempeh, and that they’ve found a new vegetarian restaurant we should check out. Even my parents make me vegetarian dishes when I visit, and find they really like them and keep making them for themselves.
Do I think that one person will ever make a difference? That really wasn’t my intention, but it turns out I do!