I recently was having a conversation with a group of non-vegetarians about meat and animal products. To start with it was an okay conversation, but after a while I stopped talking because I didn’t think I could express my opinion without it starting an argument. Basically, after talking about a few things we could agree on, such as that they found the idea of killing animals hard to bear and that industrial farming is inhumane, it spiralled off into a long list of reasons why it was still okay to eat meat.
To me, it seemed like they were spending a lot of energy on justifying themselves. I suppose that they felt the need to do so because they felt guilty. Well, they did start off talking about how they couldn’t kill animals themselves, so it seems likely they felt guilty.
It seemed to me that if you have to spend so much energy on justifying yourself to make yourself feel better, wouldn’t it just be easier in the long term to go vegan? Why live with this constant internal conflict?
Or, otherwise, why not just stop justifying yourself? “It’s okay if you kill the animal quickly”, “If they have a good life before they die it’s okay”… if it were really okay, why would you be saying this? It seems much more like you’re trying to convince yourself.
If it’s really okay, then don’t justify yourself. Say, “I don’t care about animals”, or, “I don’t care about animals enough to change my lifestyle.” Or even, “I care about animals but I prefer to pretend it’s not happening,” or, “I feel like I don’t have the internal resources right now to do what I feel is right.”
It’s okay to not be “perfect”, but those arguments are weak and you know it. Try to let the arguments go and examine the tension which is behind them, which leads you to feel like you need to justify yourself.