I feel bad for Mirra. You can see in her latest blog entry, that this has been hard. We eat with new people almost every night. Whether they are strangers from the internet or friends of friends its new ground and due to Mirra’s dietry choices, the topic of vegetarianism inevitably comes up. And you wouldn’t believe how people like to talk about why their diet makes sense. Amazing, open minded, generous people become preachers on the subject of animal protein. So the only thing I can think of is that despite the fact that Mirra doesn’t preach, strangers feel they need to defend their point of view.
The thing is, food choices are inevitably political, particularly when it comes to meat. I suppose there are those who don’t like the taste (they’ve clearly never tried a perfectly cooked piece of any animal flesh). But by declining to eat meat you are saying that you disagree with the present norm (outside of CA and big cities). Your opinions may be formed due to the environmental damages of meat consumption, or the cruelty aspect or you may just love animals as much as humans (as is the case with Mirra), but regardless of what your reasons may be, you are making a statement. And statements make people uncomfortable. Meat is a particularly sensitive area as it is still a moral dilema for many – do I take an animals life so that I can have protein and also pleasure? By not eating meat, even if you don’t preach this vegetarian gospel, it brings others choices into question. What do people do when they are questioned? They defend themselves. Perhaps that is the case as we travel across the country.
I think talking about food around the table is important to do, and discussion about food choices (including meat) is an acceptable conversation. But like politics or religion, most often everyone already has their mind made up. It isn’t a discussion, it is a sermon, a tribunal or a defense council.
The issue is sure to arise many times on the second half of this trip. Perhaps you (Mirra) can not feel judged and guide the talk away from passioned monologue to respectful dialogue as we go forward.