I was just told I'd be DISOWNED if I eat meat! - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 29 Old 02-22-2006, 08:59 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Backstory: My sister is my best friend, or at least she was. She's been a vegan for about 15 years, and a vegetarian for almost 20, and she's 29 years old. I have been a vegetarian since I was about 19, so for 16 years.

Today we were talking on Messenger and I told her that lately I have been thinking about eating meat again, but because I can't really afford organic free range meat and because I don't even know if I COULD do it, I don't know if I will. Now, I had no reason to believe she'd have the reaction she had. Sure, she's a vegan but we discuss *everything* and it wasn't like I was saying, "Mmm, haha I ate pork today, nanana!", yk?

She freaked out. She told me that since I've "seen the light" I can't just "unsee it" and if I eat meat I will be putting seriously bad vibes out into the universe. I explained to her that I feel like the carb heavy diet I am on now isn't good for me, and I sometimes suspect I am somewhat wheat intolerant, and I would ideally like to eat a diet of local organic lean meat and veggies, no dairy, sugar or wheat. (We are Mohawk, and I have been thinking alot about eating a more traditional diet, yk? Locally caught fish, local fruits and vegs. and maybe even wild game. But as I said, these are all jsut thoughts - I am honestly not sure I could put a piece of meat into my mouth!)

She told me that if I eat meat she will 'disown' me and that she can't discuss this with me anymore and logged out.

Ok, granted, I shoulder some of the blame because I maybe shouldn't have brought my moral crisis up to a vegan. But, really, I think I was maybe looking for her perspective. I've talked this over with ppl who have told me I SHOULD change my diet in that way, maybe I was hoping for some reasonable input as to why I shouldn't? I don't know, I do know that I was NOT looking for threats, and I really don't know how to respond to that!

The whole thing felt like a sock in the gut - I never expected to be threatened with being disowned, not over that or anything even 'bigger' than that. If anything, this makes me so angry that I want to eat meat more than ever. (But really, I don't, I am just angry.)

The most ironic thing about this, to me, is that she has a boyfriend now who eats meat. So, it's acceptable (or ignorable) from HIM but from her sister it's grounds for disowning?

I am at a loss for how to deal with this. Of course I will no longer discuss what I eat with her, ever. I hadn't realized it was such a hot button issue, she's never reacted like this before and doesn't seem to care that I eat dairy. ? I wrote out a scathing email, but deleted it.

Ok, thanks for letting me vent. If you have any input on what should be my next step with her, do share it with me!

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#2 of 29 Old 02-22-2006, 09:03 PM
 
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Wow. I'm sorry, that's just horrible that she would say that to you. I hope she was just saying that in the heat of the moment and cools off and realizes her mistake.

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#3 of 29 Old 02-22-2006, 09:21 PM
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Wanna come to my house for a BBQ?


I mean, reallY! Is there something evil in the air this week?What you choose to eat is totally up to you and I would think discussing it would be fine. Why not? SH ecould have said, "Well, I couldn't ever, because..." But I think she over-reacted.


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#4 of 29 Old 02-22-2006, 09:43 PM
 
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I'm sorry! I hope she calms down and realizes that is not a good reason to disown your sister. If it makes you feel any better I was a vegetarian for 9 years and I found that I felt better once I started eating meat again : ...so I do understand what you are talking about. Still feel a little guilty about the reasons I was a veg before and the fact that I'm not now, but I don't think it makes me a bad person. Good luck on working things out with your sister!

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#5 of 29 Old 02-22-2006, 09:50 PM
 
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Wow! Talk about going overboard.
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#6 of 29 Old 02-22-2006, 10:03 PM
 
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[QUOTE=Attila the Honey]The most ironic thing about this, to me, is that she has a boyfriend now who eats meat. So, it's acceptable (or ignorable) from HIM but from her sister it's grounds for disowning?
[QUOTE]

This is crazy IMO!!! How can she be so accepting and tolerable of him, but freak out on you: I am so sorry, mama.

Sometimes siblings just say the harshest things. OT-I had a sit. w/ my sister when I got pregnant...Long story-unmarried, in college, etc. You get the picture. She said some horrible things to me and actually did disown me, until my daughter was born! I have never understood the whole disowning thing.

When I was a vegan for a few years I was a bit militant w/ it. I would preach to family and friends, but tried to do it in a positive way. More like-"I really care about you and would love to share my view w/ you. Maybe you can learn something." I wonder if something else ticked her off earlier and she lashed out on you? Can't figure out why she would get like that. Is the rest of your family vegetarians or vegans? Does she maybe feel like you guys had this veggie bond and now you may walk away from that?

I hope whatever it is that it works itself out. It is really frustrating when someone who you care about and trust says something like that to you! Lots of

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#7 of 29 Old 02-22-2006, 10:41 PM
 
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My thought is that your sister looks at veganism as much more than just "not eating meat/animal products." It seems to be something within her psyche that takes her reasons for being a vegan very seriously. In many ways, it's like a lot of mamas here and their deep-seated belief on the correctness of AP, NFL, gentle discipline, etc. I have seen plenty of posts about family members who are not following the same path (CIO, voluntary formula feeding, spanking, etc) and folks have railed about how they can't even speak to their family members any longer, that they are sickened at their choices!

You have just dropped a bomb on your sister, obviously one that hit very strongly with her core beliefs. She is knee-jerk reacting, but her emotions are real, too. I get physical ill and can't stand the thought of spending "quality" time with people who think CIO is the thing to do! It disrupts my psyche to imagine their poor, screaming DCs, when the reality is probably not as extreme as my wild-roaming thoughts.

I would reassure that you are not attacking *her* beliefs, but that *your* body is encouraging you to seek alternative nutrition. Give her some time and some space to vent. The boyfriend thing is sure but, again, it's her choice.

Sorry for the direct attack. Good luck in your research and keep listening to your body!

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#8 of 29 Old 02-22-2006, 11:06 PM
 
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I agree with DHM. Her reaction does seem disproportionate to the situation - esp. since you were just talking about the possibility of adding meat to your diet, not inviting her over for a pig roast.

But, if her veganism is something that she strongly identifies with, and something she believes is the best thing for all people and for the environment, I could see (a little, sort of, kind of) how the news that you were even thinking about eating meat would feel like a betrayal.

A not-so-great analogy... I believe that treating children respectfully and avoiding punitive discipline is the best thing for kids. If my like-minded sister told me that she'd been thinking about using controlled spanking on her kids because her current system just didn't feel right any more, I'd be really upset and alarmed.

I'm not excusing her - I do think that disowning you would be unreasonable and a little weird. Just offering some ideas about why she might have had that reaction.
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#9 of 29 Old 02-22-2006, 11:14 PM
 
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To the last two posters, the sister's beliefs can't be that strong if she is dating a meat eater.
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#10 of 29 Old 02-22-2006, 11:18 PM
 
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Maybe she wants to eat meat, too, but has always looked up to you because you don't eat meat and that's what she wants to do so she's afraid that since you are going to eat meat again, she will be tempted to do likewise.
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#11 of 29 Old 02-22-2006, 11:23 PM
 
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i think it's the boyfriend that's the problem. she's probably kinda p.o.'d/annoyed/frustrated with the fact that he eats meat and she loves him, but she just took it out on you. here's this guy that she thinks is great except for this one thing (veganism) that is really important to her (and she probably thinks her sister is in her corner on this) and then her sister pulls the rug out from under her by talking about EATING MEAT! auuuuggggghhhh! really, her issue is with herself and the boyfriend. she loves/likes him, but feels conflicted about his meat eating and you (OP) talking about eating meat is just rubbing salt in her wound. she's not seeing your perspective at all. just my interpretation, of course, not actually knowing any of the players.

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#12 of 29 Old 02-22-2006, 11:28 PM
 
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I have a feeling that she was just shocked and hurt to the point that she lashed out. Hopefully, she'll calm down and you'll forgive her.
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#13 of 29 Old 02-23-2006, 09:19 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by beanma
i think it's the boyfriend that's the problem. she's probably kinda p.o.'d/annoyed/frustrated with the fact that he eats meat and she loves him, but she just took it out on you. here's this guy that she thinks is great except for this one thing (veganism) that is really important to her (and she probably thinks her sister is in her corner on this) and then her sister pulls the rug out from under her by talking about EATING MEAT! auuuuggggghhhh! really, her issue is with herself and the boyfriend. she loves/likes him, but feels conflicted about his meat eating and you (OP) talking about eating meat is just rubbing salt in her wound. she's not seeing your perspective at all. just my interpretation, of course, not actually knowing any of the players.
That makes alot of sense. She never discussed any of that with me, though, so I erroneously took the fact that she has a meat eating bf to mean she wasn't being so dogmatic anymore.

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#14 of 29 Old 02-23-2006, 11:15 AM
 
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I recently started eating meat after 15 years of vegetarianism. I have PCOS and insulin resistance, and I also found the vegetarian high carb diet thing wasn't really working for me. I feel much better physically, altho I'm sure everyone is different and for many ppl veg*n is the way to go. It's hard to actually eat the meat, especially red meat, but I've found that now I am used to it enough that I actually look forward to eating a rotisserie chicken (esp. the breast, yum) from the market.

One of my friends freaked too, she is veg and a little irrational. She's over it now tho, and there was no disowning involved.

I don't have much sympathy for your sister's inability to get over it, especially given that meat-eating boyfriend.
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#15 of 29 Old 02-23-2006, 11:34 AM
 
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#16 of 29 Old 02-23-2006, 11:34 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DarkHorseMama
My thought is that your sister looks at veganism as much more than just "not eating meat/animal products." It seems to be something within her psyche that takes her reasons for being a vegan very seriously. In many ways, it's like a lot of mamas here and their deep-seated belief on the correctness of AP, NFL, gentle discipline, etc. I have seen plenty of posts about family members who are not following the same path (CIO, voluntary formula feeding, spanking, etc) and folks have railed about how they can't even speak to their family members any longer, that they are sickened at their choices!

You have just dropped a bomb on your sister, obviously one that hit very strongly with her core beliefs. She is knee-jerk reacting, but her emotions are real, too. I get physical ill and can't stand the thought of spending "quality" time with people who think CIO is the thing to do! It disrupts my psyche to imagine their poor, screaming DCs, when the reality is probably not as extreme as my wild-roaming thoughts.

I would reassure that you are not attacking *her* beliefs, but that *your* body is encouraging you to seek alternative nutrition. Give her some time and some space to vent. The boyfriend thing is sure but, again, it's her choice.

Sorry for the direct attack. Good luck in your research and keep listening to your body!
Absolutely! I agree with DHM on this...
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#17 of 29 Old 02-23-2006, 12:23 PM
 
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wow, i'm vegan, and i would have never reacted like that.. what you choose to eat is your own choice!

i'd not talk to her about this again anytime soon.. giver her some time to cool off. then, if she's up to talking, you can apologise for offending her, and tell her that you are hurt that she'd even consider disowning you over this (or anything really!). but this is probably not a topic you should talk about much.

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#18 of 29 Old 02-23-2006, 01:52 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Irishmommy
To the last two posters, the sister's beliefs can't be that strong if she is dating a meat eater.
I have to disagree with this. I have been a vegetarian for 15+ years (vegan for some of that). I don't buy leather. I don't use products tested on animals or made with animal ingredients. I feel VERY strongly that the way this country treats/uses animals is deeply unethical, as well as environmentally unsound and unhealthy.

I am, however, married to a meat-eater. I love my husband, and I don't feel it's my place to judge him because he doesn't feel as strongly about this issue as I do. I don't know how to NOT love him simply because he makes some choices that differ from mine. I think I would have a very limited life indeed if I only associated with fellow vegans/vegetarians!

That said: I think the OP's sister is being unreasonable, particularly as this was a hypothetical discussion. I understand her feelings of disappointment--as someone who watched all her vegetarian friends from high school and college go back to eating meat, I know that it can make you a little sad to see that happen. I suspect her reaction has to do with the fact that the OP has been veggie for so long--it's much harder to feel that someone whom you thought shared your values might have changed her mind than to accept the choices of someone who never shared those values in the first place. It's as though a regular and helpful poster in the Gentle Discipline forum suddenly posted, saying "GD isn't working for me any more, so I've decided to spank."

However, I don't think being the "vegan police" (i.e., criticizing others for their food choices) does anything to help the cause of veganism. IMO, a better response would be to discuss the health issues the OP was having and see if she had any suggestions for alleviating some of the problems without giving up the vegan diet; but beyond that, I don't think that "disowning" or attacking her sister is fair or appropriate.
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#19 of 29 Old 02-23-2006, 01:53 PM
 
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Are you vegetarian for health reasons or ethical reasons?

Ime, people who abstain from animal flesh and/or other products only for health reasons and then go back are understandable. People who are veg for moral/ethical reasons and then go back don't make sense to me. I mean, how can you just say "well, I know all about factory farming and it used to be important to me not to contribute to the suffering of animals, but screw it. I want a hamburger!" ? How can a person just turn it off like that?

I can completely understand why your sister would be more upset at you than at her boyfriend. In her eyes, you already understood why eating animals is wrong, and now you're tossing that aside (unless you're strictly a health food vegetarian, and she's mistaken about your reasons for being veg). Her boyfriend hasn't "gotten it" yet, so he hasn't gone back on anything.
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#20 of 29 Old 02-23-2006, 02:24 PM
 
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I don't think it is necessarily a matter of abandoning one's ethical reasoning, but rather of giving greater weight to a different ethical concern.

For example, I was raised keeping kosher. I no longer not only because I left that faith, but also because I shifted my focus to a different kind of mindful eating--such as focusing (or attempting to focus) on local foods, on traditional foods (for the region, that is), and I had ethical issues with the ban on game in a kosher diet--to me hunted meat is the most ethical form of meat available.

If the OP's considerations can be made clear to her sister--trying to go back to a more traditonal diet--perhaps the sister can see it as less of a an abandoning of an ideal and more of a shift to a different ideal. I'm not vegetarian all and never have been but it still ticked me off when an acquaintence announce that eating meat and especially hunting is evil and cruel, but she does it anyway bc she had some health issues on a vegan diet. It was like she had no problem judging my carefully thought out position but felt it was ok to abandon her own because finding the right combination of supplements was too much trouble. Perhaps my acquaintance had thought it out much better but just failed to articulate it. I dunno.

In any case, my response to threats of disowning is that no one owned me in the first place.
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#21 of 29 Old 02-23-2006, 03:15 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by whateverdidiwants
Are you vegetarian for health reasons or ethical reasons?

Ime, people who abstain from animal flesh and/or other products only for health reasons and then go back are understandable. People who are veg for moral/ethical reasons and then go back don't make sense to me. I mean, how can you just say "well, I know all about factory farming and it used to be important to me not to contribute to the suffering of animals, but screw it. I want a hamburger!" ? How can a person just turn it off like that?
I am vegetarian for many reasons, really ALL of the reasons, but certain reasons held more weight than others at different points in the last 16 years. I wouldn't say I am considering abandoning my ethics as much as I have taken a different standpoint on things. For example, I feel that eating locally caught fish or game, or responsibly raised organic meat is less 'evil' than eating processed veg. 'junk' with alot of packaging and artificial ingredients. For me, not eating lab food with excessive packaging and biotech ingredients (like highly processed soy meats, etc) is as much of an ethical issue as not taking an animal's life. More so, really. I am not turning anything off, but rather looking at things from a different perspective.

No one should assume meat eater = factory farm supporter. I have no intention of buying factory farmed meat, although sad to say I probably already support factory farming because I eat cheese. I think eating dairy has as much to do with factory farming as meat, really. I mean, I can cover my car with "BOYCOTT VEAL" stickers as much as I want, but as long as I am eating dairy I am part of the reason veal calves exist, right?

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#22 of 29 Old 02-23-2006, 05:51 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Attila the Honey
I've talked this over with ppl who have told me I SHOULD change my diet in that way, maybe I was hoping for some reasonable input as to why I shouldn't? I don't know, I do know that I was NOT looking for threats, and I really don't know how to respond to that!

I can understand her passion, but she missed an opportunity to have a productive discussion with you. I guess it was past her tolerance and now you realize that, but I don't think her response to you was right. If anything, it doesn't seem within the confines of compassionate, empathic treatment. How will threats and hateful comments accomplish anything? Oh well, I'm sorry.
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#23 of 29 Old 02-23-2006, 06:20 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Attila the Honey
No one should assume meat eater = factory farm supporter.
:

I was veg*n for years, mostly run-of-the-mill L/O, occasionally swaying into vegan or into pesco-L/O-vegetarian. My moral concern was never with the basic ethic of killing an animal for food. It was always with the conditions of factory farming. I had little desire to go search out ethical meat, but in theory, if someone had put a piece of grass-fed steak in front of me I might have eaten it. My return to meat eating completely coincided with my discovery of ethical resources in my community and with my ability to afford such quality.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Attila the Honey
I mean, I can cover my car with "BOYCOTT VEAL" stickers as much as I want, but as long as I am eating dairy I am part of the reason veal calves exist, right?
Actually, I disagree with that. Just because calves are weaned early to provide for dairy doesn't mean that they have to do all the other stuff - locking them in those little cages, force feeding them. And they don't have to wean them as early as most dairy farmers do. Cows have been bred for milennia to produce milk far longer than their calves require. In theory, you shouldn't have to forceably wean a calf at all to get some milk from the cow. In practice, you can wean the calf early, but not so early that you have to switch it to artificial milk, and get a lot of milk. It's dairy farmers greed that compels them to wean as soon as physically possible.

Regardless of the awful treatment of veal calves, though, the truth is, the dairy industry spawns an awful lot of cattle. If they weren't killed for meat, as calves or as steer, we'd be overrun in short order. So, you are right that the dairy industry neccessitates the killing of cattle. But I don't agree that it neccessitates the horrors of the veal industry.
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#24 of 29 Old 02-23-2006, 06:59 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tboroson
:

I was veg*n for years, mostly run-of-the-mill L/O, occasionally swaying into vegan or into pesco-L/O-vegetarian. My moral concern was never with the basic ethic of killing an animal for food. It was always with the conditions of factory farming. I had little desire to go search out ethical meat, but in theory, if someone had put a piece of grass-fed steak in front of me I might have eaten it. My return to meat eating completely coincided with my discovery of ethical resources in my community and with my ability to afford such quality.



Actually, I disagree with that. Just because calves are weaned early to provide for dairy doesn't mean that they have to do all the other stuff - locking them in those little cages, force feeding them. And they don't have to wean them as early as most dairy farmers do. Cows have been bred for milennia to produce milk far longer than their calves require. In theory, you shouldn't have to forceably wean a calf at all to get some milk from the cow. In practice, you can wean the calf early, but not so early that you have to switch it to artificial milk, and get a lot of milk. It's dairy farmers greed that compels them to wean as soon as physically possible.

Regardless of the awful treatment of veal calves, though, the truth is, the dairy industry spawns an awful lot of cattle. If they weren't killed for meat, as calves or as steer, we'd be overrun in short order. So, you are right that the dairy industry neccessitates the killing of cattle. But I don't agree that it neccessitates the horrors of the veal industry.

My understanding is that veal calves are male calves that are of no real use to the dairy industry, so they are sold as veal. If they didn't forcibly wean and, in essence, 'produce veal' they'd be up to their eyebrows in expensive to feed bulls, so they become veal calves. Since ppl prefer mild and pale fleshed veal, they are confined and treated so abyssmally.

I totally get what you are saying, I think we are on the same page here. I was just referring, somewhat tangentially I suppose, to ovo lacto veg*ns who I've encountered in the past that do not want to cop to their role in that whole ugly business, yk? For me, eating dairy has always been something I've felt guilty about because I did feel it made me at least somewhat complicit in the production of veal even though I would never, myself, eat veal. I don't put someone who drinks milk on par with someone who runs a veal farm, not at all, but it all fits together somehow.

Uh, sorry for hijacking my own thread.

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#25 of 29 Old 02-23-2006, 07:08 PM
 
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Well if it were me.... I would go buy a Big Mac, a big, fat, greasy, calorie laden Big Mac. And hold it up to your mouth and act like you are going to take a enormous bite and sink your teeth into it...Throw in some fries in the background for kicks. And email her the picture saying fine the two of you don't have to "discuss" it if thats how she wants to handle it...But thats just me
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#26 of 29 Old 02-23-2006, 07:29 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Attila the Honey
My understanding is that veal calves are male calves that are of no real use to the dairy industry, so they are sold as veal. If they didn't forcibly wean and, in essence, 'produce veal' they'd be up to their eyebrows in expensive to feed bulls, so they become veal calves. Since ppl prefer mild and pale fleshed veal, they are confined and treated so abyssmally.
I think we are on the same page for the most part You're right. Anybody who eschews beef but consumes dairy needs to understand that many cattle need to be slaughtered in order to further the industry. We both understand that many of the offspring that permit cows to lactate have to be slaughtered, and particularly most ofthe male offspring that are of no future use to the dairy farmer. I don't see any moral difference between killing them as calves and killing them as adult steer. But, I do have a huge moral issue with the way veal calves are treated.

My only reason for bringing up that argument was to point out that veal production doesn't *have* to be as reprehensible as it is. It's no different than factory farmed meat vs. grass-fed meat. It can be done differently, there are benefits to doing it differently (i.e. the resulting meat is healthier), and it is an obvious moral step-up to do it differently. It's just a challenge to find farmers who do things "the old way".

Just like opting to eat ethically-produced meat, we should be searching out ethically produced dairy. I will concede that calves and/or steer need to be slaughtered to produce milk. But, that doesn't mean I think they need to be kept in veal crates and force-fed soy formula before they're slaughtered.

So, Atilla-the-Honey, I'm not trying to pick any arguments with you I'm just trying to plumb that one aspect a little deeper.
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#27 of 29 Old 02-23-2006, 11:48 PM
 
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It sounds to me like your sister is having some ethical questions about veganism of her own- otherwise I doubt she would have reacted so strongly to you! I just get the feeling that she's feeling defensive about veganism in general right now (maybe as a result of her omni BF?), her own resolve may be weakening, and your honest questions about dietary changes are just threatening to her right now. If she was 100% comfortable with her own choices, there's no way she'd react so strongly to somebody else's choices.

For now, I guess the best thing to do is not talk about diet with her. Hopefully this whole thing will blow over, and you will retain a good relationship with her regardless of your dietary choices.

Ruth, single mommy to Leah, 19 (in Israel for another school year), Hannah, 18 (commuting to college), and Jack, 12(homeschooled)
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#28 of 29 Old 02-24-2006, 01:02 AM
 
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Sounds as though either
1. she's going to come down on you whenever you do something that doesn't meet her standards or
2. she's been trying to get her bf to cut back on meat and it isn't going well and she overreacted as a result

I'd assume 2. and tell her "look sis, I didn't mean to upset you, it's just something I'm considering, don't worry, even if I were to eat meat, I wouldn't do it in front of you. Just like I don't use dairy or eggs in stuff I cook for you now."
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#29 of 29 Old 02-24-2006, 01:06 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tboroson
:

I was veg*n for years, mostly run-of-the-mill L/O, occasionally swaying into vegan or into pesco-L/O-vegetarian. My moral concern was never with the basic ethic of killing an animal for food. It was always with the conditions of factory farming. I had little desire to go search out ethical meat, but in theory, if someone had put a piece of grass-fed steak in front of me I might have eaten it. My return to meat eating completely coincided with my discovery of ethical resources in my community and with my ability to afford such quality.
If I ever start eating meat, I've got hunter friends and friends with free-range chickens, although if I add any meat to my diet, fish'd probably be the best choice (although there's no safe place around here to catch any.)
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