Utne Blogs > Mind and Body

Vegetarians, Get Inside the Minds of Meat Eaters

by Katie Leo 

Tags: Spirituality, mindful living, tolerance, empathy, animal ethics, vegetarianism, Vegetarian Voice,

meat eaterHave the food wars really escalated to the point where we need to remind vegetarians that meat eaters are human (or vice versa, for that matter)?  

According to Melanie Joy, to understand the psychology of meat eaters, vegetarians must navigate through a labyrinth of ethical and moral contradictions. Yet, doing so would help bridge the often contentious divide between the two groups. Writing for Vegetarian Voice, Joy wants vegetarians to get inside the often “baffling” minds of their meat-loving peers:  

After learning the myriad nutritional benefits of a plant-based diet, the health-conscious meat eater claims he doesn’t want to risk becoming protein deficient. After reading the statistics of the environmental damage wrought by animal agriculture, the hybrid-driving meat eater says she’s got her hands full working on other social issues and she doesn’t eat much “red” meat anyway...

As frustrating as these contradictions might be, Joy urges her fellow vegetarians to avoid negative assumptions about meat eaters. Many are influenced by the dominant ideology of human primacy over animals, as well as arbitrary social norms that justify eating cows, for example, rather than, say, dogs. She reminds readers:  

Many meat eaters are also loving fathers, mothers, and friends; they are fearless rescue-workers, dedicated teachers, impassioned activists, tireless community leaders, kindhearted philanthropists, compassionate animal caretakers, devoted partners, and great humanitarians.

Source: Vegetarian Voice (article not available online)

Image by star5112, licensed under Creative Commons