Having Compassion for Compassionate Eaters

Monday, January 3, 2011

    Quite simply, there are a number of animals that I would never consume. While I am not yet a vegetarian, I’m conscious about my meat intake and I am working to limit the amount of animals I eat (I can’t remember when I’ve last had a steak). I have had a great deal of love, compassion, and empathy for animals since I was very young.
    I refuse to consume duck, goose, deer, and lamb/sheep. I just love these animals too much (and have known many of them personally), especially ducks. Anyone who knows me knows that I LOVE ducks. In having such a love for fowl as I do, I have encountered a good deal of rudeness concerning my interests. Some of the comments that I have received have been downright cruel. I don’t deserve this kind of treatment, and neither does anyone else.
    No matter who you are, what you eat, or what your beliefs on animal welfare are, you need to be compassionate and polite to people who have different beliefs than you do.

    More often than I would like, the first time I tell someone that I don’t consume ducks, I almost always get some comment about ducks being eaten/hunted/killed. This is rude. When someone tells you that they don’t eat an animal, you do not return the conversation by talking about how delicious that animal is. Firstly, it’s cruel, insensitive, and rude. Secondly, it shows your poor conversation skills. If you someone tells you that they don’t eat an animal, and the first thing you say is “Oh, I LOVE eating [insert animal]!! They are SOOOOO yummy!“, then you have a lot to learn about how to carry on a polite conversation, and quite frankly, you are rude and insensitive.
    Do not talk about how someone you know is a duck hunter, how you ate duck last night, how your dog is trained to retrieve the dead carcasses of ducks, how you LOVE to eat ducks, how stupid it is not to eat ducks, how yummy ducks are, what balut is, or anything related to the destruction of ducks.
    Instead, you need to find something nice to say to carry on the conversation.
    “Oh, that’s really sweet. I’ve never met anyone like that.”
    “Do you have a pet duck?”
    “I used to feed ducks at the local pond when I was a kid. They had really wet bills…”
                                    “What is your favorite kind of duck?”
    Remember Thumper’s famous words: “If you can’t say nothing’ nice…don’t say nothing’ at all”. The same holds true when you encounter a compassionate eater. If you feel something insensitive and mean welling up in you, do these two things: First, realize that you have compassion issues to work on. However, be proud with yourself that you were able to catch your impulse and hold your tongue. Second: smile, give an interested “huh!”, nod, and change the subject. “What kind of foods can you eat?” is a good way to steer the conversation in another direction.

    If you encounter some one who has dietary practices that you are not sure about (such as a vegan or someone who follows Kosher practices), you need to curb the desire to approach something you don’t understand with aggression, fear, or hostility. Instead, politely ask some questions. What does keeping Kosher entail? If you don’t eat animal products, what are some of your favorite foods to eat? Are your parents the same way? How long have you been eating like that, or have you been doing it all your life? Make sure you ask these with a smile, not a smirk. Don’t be haughty or confrontational. If you are afraid that your question might be rude, either don’t ask it, or start off with a disclaimer - “Oh, I hope this isn’t rude, because I’ve never known anyone like you, but I’m really curious…”
    I would advise against drilling into someone about religious beliefs, if they have any. “Why do you believe this? Are your parents forcing you?” are questions better left unsaid. It can cause tension!

    When eating out with friends, keep their dietary choices in mind. Make sure to choose restaurants that have something for everyone, and don’t stupidly point out, “Oh they serve DUCK here! Look!”. Strangely, some people almost impulsively begin to point out every dead duck in the vicinity after they learn about me. They don’t seem to mean to be cruel, but it’s almost like an impulsive reaction that some people tend to have. Someone once even ordered roast duck during my birthday dinner - when they knew very, very well of my sensitivities. Always try to check yourself - are you feeling urges to hurt someone based on their interests?
    Should you refrain from eating a treasured animal in front of your friend or loved one? In my personal opinion, if you genuinely care about them, yes. You can eat baby puppies on your own time, but when you’re with your best buddy, spare them the discomfort, and spare yourself the chance of an argument or a tense day.

At the end of the day, remember that your Compassionate Eater-friend is probably refraining from eating certain (or all) animals because she has a love for life….And what could be wrong with that?

2 thoughts:

Trinity-Hale said...

Thank you, dearie, for posting this.
I have a lovely pet duck of my own. I've become quite attatched to her, so even the thought of eating ducks makes me a bit uneasy. My friends often jest at me for such things-- and most of the time I can take it, but it can become irritating.

I can't say how much I appreciate someone approaching the subject in such a clear, mature way ^-^

Shizune said...

I have been a lacto-vegetarian since I was born, and have never tasted meat. People often look at me in disbelief or try and persaude me to eat some. Needless to say, this can be irritating or downright upsetting.
Thank you for wording this so elegantly!

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