Four Paragraphs on Vegetarianism

There is a wonderful conceit in one of Douglas Adams’ Hitchhiker novels, where a spaceship is rendered invisible by a “not my problem” field. Much of our moral life operates under similar principles. We allow certain obvious horrors to continue through an active practice of forgetting.

For 15 years, I have been a (sometimes wavering, sometimes faltering) vegetarian. I am mostly reluctant to talk about it, and have grown more so over time. There have been too many unwelcome browbeatings after unwelcome questions over unwelcome dinners. At some point, though, we all bear an obligation to say something.

We are all farmers by proxy. The food we choose to eat is raised in our name. Right now, those animals we eat are raised in pain, live through torture, and are brutally slaughtered. These are facts, and they are unavoidable. You already know them on some level, even if you may participate in the constant and communal process of forgetting.

I can’t just ask you to adopt the same conclusions as me. I’m not that immodest. I think we all must choose for ourselves. But I can ask you to actively decide how you cast your proxy. I can ask you to remember. The lives of the animals you eat are your problem. Factory farming is your problem. You, just like all of us, need to make a choice.

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