The Dirty V: Indoctrinate Me

“Last Friday night, yeah we were danced on tabletops and we took…” Oh, wait, no. Actually I was stuck at work late, but that’s good cause it culminated with two slices of vegan pizza at Vinnie’s in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

Before that, though, it included a conversation with one of my coworkers. Discourse is important; no matter where the channels of communication lead, take the ride.

On her way out, she noticed my necklace.

“Is that a pig?”

“Yes, it says, ‘Friend Not Food’.”

“It’s cute. I don’t agree. But cute.”

Though commenting earlier in the day about wishing she could be a vegetarian, this comment made me realize her desire was different than mine was. The conversation continued, though, onto my mid-road veg*nism and limiting my dairy/egg consumption (which is not for ethical concerns against the use of non-slaughter animal by-products, but against factory farming and over-consumption).

As an example of the harsh conditions that lead to poor products (not to mention that whole animal suffering thing), I pulled out Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer and read her a paragraph I’d underlined just that morning.

“Scientific studies and government records suggest that virtually all (upwards of 95 percent of) chickens become infected with E. coli (an indicator of fecal contamination) and between 39 and 75 percent of chickens in retail stores are still infected.”

Her face twisted. Even being a vegetarian, the idea still makes my stomach turn; my family eats that stuff…I ate that stuff.

As I explained that the book really dealt with his experiences with his family, she paused on the idea that Foer would be raising his son (plural now) vegan. She questioned, with a slight degree of exasperation, “Just because he’s vegan, he’s going to make his son be vegan.”

My response was something like, ‘If you’re Catholic, you’re going to raise you kids that way.’ I remembered reading about Foer claiming he wouldn’t be upset  if his son grew up to eat meat and offered that up as well. (I’ll have to dig up that link.)

What stayed with me was the intonation;  how it seemed to her like Foer was forcing this onto his son. All parents, though, assert an influence over their kids; the family is one of the greatest social forces shaping children’s personalities. Parents raise their children to do as they do. Pray as they pray. Eat as they eat. Parents who eat meat, feed their kids meat.

Even those contemplating a more plant-based diet for its health benefits, leer at the idea of forgoing meat altogether because it’s good for you.

From an early age, we learn what’s “good” for us. We believe our parents infallible; they have all the answers. ‘Eat your meat and drink your milk. It’s good for you.’ Well, how do they know that? Who told them so? We learn early on to differentiate the animals on our plates from the ones running around our yards. We learn.

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