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Why Animal "Abusers" Aren't Concerned with Offending Us
- abuse - offend - alienation -

Comments by Lisa Hadler - 9 November 2001

Stephen,

You suggest several reasons why one might put a piece of meat on the plate of a vegetarian, and ask us to find the most positive reason, in order to appreciate the other pov [point of view].  Well, here in Iowa, the most positive reason is that people honestly believe that I am risking my health by not eating meat.  They believe wholeheartedly that one MUST have meat in order to avoid wasting away.  There's plenty of evidence to the contrary, like that I am slightly overweight, or that those who eat meat are far more likely to have heart disease, high blood pressure and colon related problems (which are rampant in my congregation for some reason -- far more than other health problems.) Even when told by physicians that they must cut down on meat, they never consider the possibility of cutting it out completely.  That would be unthinkable.

And then there is the constant propaganda from the pork, egg, and beef industries that say that Iowa's economy will fail completely without the livestock industries.   I try to counter this by pointing out that central Illinois, where I came here from, has very little livestock farming, but thrives on the raising of soybeans, corn, and oats.  But people see pork (especially) and Iowa as being inextricably intertwined.   I'm not kidding when I say that vegetarianism is seen as being unpatriotic in Iowa.   Much as I'm no fan of ADM, I often wish that the soy industry would work as hard at getting its message out as the beef and pork industries do.

People really do think that insisting that I eat meat is done out of concern for me, and themselves.  There are some who really do worry about my health.  And they mean well.  But so did my trustees when they had my lawn sprayed without asking me.  I had to politely ask them not to do it again, and explained that the chemicals they sprayed on my lawn break down into a chemical the body recognizes as estrogen, and when I'm doing my damnedest to avoid more surgery for endometriosis, the last thing I need is a booster shot of estrogen, thank you very much!  My sister said I should ask them to pay for my next shot, but they sort of do that already, in that they pay for my health insurance.  And they really did mean well.

That's the trick -- accepting that they mean well, and even see their behavior as expressions of concern.  Here's a bright spot: Our parish nurse, out of concern for the large number in our (small) congregation with diverticulitis, polyps, and colon cancers showing up in colonoscopies, is going to do an educational program about the relationship between diet and colon health.  She's shared her thoughts and some materials with me already.  They include info about the importance of taking folic acid, eating more fruits and veggies, and less meat.  And yes, she's planning to suggest vegetarianism as one option in preventing colon diseases.  God bless her!!

One last thought -- I think people will be more open to vegetarianism as a health issue than an ethical one.  At least here.  At least now.  I often try to set it in those terms.

Last thought # 2 -- Whatever you do, don't mention that you use vegetarian dog food. Trust me on this!

Grace and peace,

Lisa

(d-3)

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