My school has started a new campaign where one day of the week, Mondays, there will be no meat provided in the cafeteria. To be more precise, my university has jumped on a national campaign and is now providing more meatless options on Mondays, with meat being available. This campaign has been met with a sort of minor outrage on the campus (by this I mean people have really responded on social media).
I have been surprised, but not shocked by the outrage. After all, if anyone in southern California were to get angry over this it would be Christians (I go to a Christian school). For some reason vegetarianism and Christianity has not been able to coincide all too well, I suppose they’re (we’re?) just too busy studying the early parts of Genesis about men and women getting married and neglecting the vegetarian lifestyle God seems to put in place for humanity (though He does change it at the flood).
It’s funny too because it was all put into place in order to lessen the environmental impact that animal raising can have and to help students be healthier. Being vegetarian is an overall more compassionate way of viewing life as a whole and to spend one day choosing not to eat meat helps to reflect this passionate way of being. Christians tend to want to be viewed this way, because Jesus’ tended to be viewed this way, but for some reason, this really grated the students on campus. The funniest and strangest part of all of this is that I am sure it is the non-Christian food company Bon Apetit that is pushing for this to happen because they care about how they affect the earth, humanity, and animals are treated. The “light of the world” Christians push for more meat, because well, they like it?
This has got me thinking about a couple of interesting things, but first I must clarify one thing, I am not a vegetarian. I eat and enjoy meat fairly regularly, because I believe that it gives me access to more people and cultures (as well as not bringing up my insecurity of having to inconvenience people). Maybe one day I will go more into my inner dialogue of this thought.
I think that this whole psuedo-controversy has shown a bigger, stranger cultural addiction to meat. Why should one day of no meat incite such an outrage? There is nothing inherently normal about eating meat, yet it is so ingrained into our culture that without it people begin to get angry. We’re talking about one day of no meat and people are freaking out!
I think this comes down to a certain reputation that vegetarians get. They are weak hippie animal lovers.
They are girly.
But meat is manly.
Bearded men hunt and kill animals and this image is idolized, even by those who will never come close to participating in such an act.
Meat is tough and cool, veggies are weak and healthy.
Being told that one should participate in the former rather than the latter causes people to squirm. They wanna be cool eating their tri-tip steak not a wimpy quinoa burger.
We miss the point.
We allow the pervasiveness of meat and the reputation that proceeds from whether we eat it or not to prevent us from being more compassionate and caring people. We don’t have to agree that meat should be completely removed, but allowing ourselves to be open to doing things that will perhaps create a more selfless, merciful, and caring world is something that we should be open to. Now if only we could find a belief system that embodied this…