I’ll bet that all of your friends have one thing in common, and it’s not political ideology or religion, or where they live, or what they do for work and play, or even diet.  Rather, they all share the core value of kindness, because if they weren’t kind, you wouldn’t be hanging out with them to begin with.

Fact is, our meat-eating friends would likely jump at the opportunity to tenderly cup a fluffy chick, cuddle a cute little piglet, and help a turtle cross a busy road. Heck, they’d probably even root for a terrified dairy cow after its escape from a slaughterhouse truck, and maybe voice support for its transport to sanctuary.

Some of these people may even refer to themselves as animal lovers.

So how does an animal lover (who considers kindness as one of their core values) willingly chew or drink – and swallow – the bodily tissues and secretions of animals – when great vegan food is ubiquitous? Good question!


I propose that the contradiction has nothing to do with their values. Seriously, I think they share our values. What enables them to eat the bodies of animals that they supposedly love is the fact that they don’t view their behavior as being counter to their values. They essentially say that the animals they eat don’t count, even though these animals are not inherently different from the animals to whom they show kindness, compassion, and even mercy.

As obvious as it may be to us, the great contradiction is obscure to most of them, and as vegans, this sure can be frustrating to be around.

For example:

• The “environmentalist” who saves water by taking short showers, but also “loves a good burger,” ignoring the fact that it takes 1800 gallons of water to produce a single pound of beef, the equivalent of ninety 8-minute showers. That’s three months of showers!

• The nature lover who reveres ducks and geese, but also loves to eat their bodies, including their livers, ignoring the fact that the inherent cruelty in foie gras production is so egregious that it’s banned in many parts of the world.

• The person with a “Be Kind” yard sign who wouldn’t dare throw a celebratory gathering without serving up the body parts of a fellow earthling, from the throat-slit veal calf, to the boiled-alive lobster, to the suffocated salmon.


There’s no easy answer, but this I know: When people view an animal as an individual, they are less likely to want to cause it harm or eat it’s body. That’s why the whole community cheers as the rescued cow gets transported to the safety of a sanctuary; and why most people are horrified at the notion of eating an animal they’ve named and/or loved (think pet pig or rabbit, or a member of the majestic turkey family that ambles across the lawn each day.)

Of course it doesn’t always work out as expected, and irony prevails, such as the time I overheard a meat-eating man lament that he went shooting once and killed a goose, and felt so bad afterwards that he vowed to never kill again. And he ate steak while telling the story.



So, I’m playing with something new here and maybe you will too… The next time I’m out with a friend and they ask for chicken in their wrap, maybe I’ll bring up the story about that funny little chicken who pecked at my purple-painted fingernails on my visit to the animal sanctuary, how she walked right up on top of my legs as I sat cross-legged on the porch, nearly pushing me backwards, making me laugh at her antics. I still think about her. She was sweet and her attention made me feel special.

And if my story about this individual, sentient being does nothing to help my friend connect the body parts in her whole wheat wrap with a once-intact body with a heart, mind, likes, dislikes, and the ability to suffer and to love? I’ll still sleep easy that night, with Gandhi’s words in my heart: “Happiness is when what we think, what we say, and what we do, are in harmony.”

by Maribeth Abrams

Share This Post