Tuesday marked my one-year anniversary as a vegetarian. I successfully went an entire year cutting out meat and fish from my diet. Since I’m not crazy, I allowed myself the luxury of dairy products. In all honesty, it was a difficult transition.
As someone who grew up on farms, I’ve had lots of raw milk and raised many animals that later provided food for our large family. Whether it was a steer that was fed off the land or a chicken that laid eggs, our family used animals as resources that the Earth provided.
There were many reasons that motivated me to make the move to vegetarianism but three stood out. First, I wanted to see if making a lifestyle change, and not just enacting another temporary diet, would yield positive long term results in my health.
Second, I wanted to see if I’d feel differently about animal "rights" if I submerged myself into a world of no meat and no fish.
Third, I didn’t like what I discovered as I began to investigate "how the sausage was made." In other words, I found that the way I consumed meats on a farm was vastly different than the source of products available today. Obviously, I appreciate the concessions that need to be made in order to feed hundreds of millions of people. However, as a personal choice, I wanted to get away from supporting industries that don’t respect animals in the same manner I do.
One year and 25 pounds later, I still feel people should be free to eat as much meat as they choose. People should also be able to go into the woods and hunt for meat as a food source. If they strike out, then they should have the right to stop at a local tavern and enter a meat raffle. In short, I’ve had no change of feelings about humans having every right to use animals as a resource.
PETA states that they focus on four main categories of animal cruelty: Animal treatment on factory farms, in the clothing trade, in laboratories, and in the entertainment industry. Without a doubt, I find some of these areas to be concerning and important.
The problem with PETA is that they take a worthwhile cause and they reduce it to the ridiculous actions of a few members. Their methods primarily draw attention to themselves and their cause is often relegated to the background. As a result, the message is lost in the method.
By throwing paint on someone’s fur or acting out in a myriad of other half-cocked stunts, they undermine the creditability of their arguments and lessen the impact their words have in the discourse. This is why mainstream America still snickers when someone brings up PETA in a conversation. It’s hard to take someone seriously when they are pretending to be packaged tenderloin from the grocery store.
To a certain extent, this same philosophy is why Walker won the recall election. Average Wisconsinites throughout the state saw the antics going on in Madison and made a choice not to be aligned with that type of behavior.
Using crazy stunts and damaging the property of others isn’t about the animals. It’s about taking the side of a debate that allows one to claim moral superiority.
PETA often justifies their outlandish behavior by claiming this alleged moral superiority. That is a mistake. There’s nothing morally superior about being a vegetarian. It’s just a different way to consume calories. It’s a lifestyle choice, that’s all. If you don’t support factory farms, don’t buy the products that they produce. Either way, it’s none of my business what personal food choices one makes.
Of course, when PETA supports restricting the choices of what one has to eat, their true colors shine through. This organization does care about the Constitution, except they care about changing it so everyone adapts to their own personal opinions and beliefs.
I’m all for protecting the rights of wildlife and preventing cruelty to all types of animals. However, since the practice of animal husbandry began, animals have been used as a resource. Attempting to change thousands of years of documented human history with 30 years of ill conceived stunts and senseless tactics is a failing proposition.
I chose to become a vegetarian as a personal choice. I’d encourage others to do it, but I don’t suddenly feel as if I possess some mystical and heightened sense of morality. It doesn’t make me kinder to the earth and it doesn’t make my opinion more or less valid than anyone else. It just means that I don’t eat and meat or fish in my diet.
I still value the lessons taught to me about how important animals are to humans. These lessons were to respect the environment, respect the animals and don’t take either for granted. PETA has a chance to stand for these principles in a reasonable manner. Instead of making legitimate arguments based on substance, they choose to associate with fringe lunatic stunts. Sadly, the images of animal cruelty quickly fade and the images of semi-naked people acting like fools endure.
John Mumper is married with two young daughters. He was born in Wisconsin and grew up on various types of farms throughout the state. John was educated at UW-Whitewater with degrees in Political Science and History and has traveled extensively throughout the world.
Today, he works closely with various types and sizes of manufacturers and building products suppliers as an outside salesman. In his spare time, he enjoys the Milwaukee Brewers, Green Bay Packers, politics and brewing his own powerful beers.