Vegetarians for a Free ChoiceDAN COYNE
How can any father look his four-year-old son in the eye and tell him that he cannot be both a practicing vegetarian and a hot dog lover? Why should a working mom, who is deeply committed to the principles of vegetarianism, feel guilty simply for snacking on an occasional beef jerky?
For a long time these questions haunted me until one day I stumbled upon the answer Vegetarians for a Free Choice. Tossing off the shackles of the traditional vegetarian movement, Vegetarians for a Free Choice seeks to bring "choice" back to eating.
For too long, an extremist group of anti-meat ideologues has attempted to dictate what defines vegetarianism. These extremists and their overly legalistic view of vegetarianism have discouraged many of us from joining a movement we might otherwise find appealing. In fact, recent polls indicate that over 72% of those who currently consider themselves non-vegetarians would consider becoming vegetarians if they were simply permitted to retain the right to eat meat.
Well, those of us who would like to become a vegetarian while still having an occasional Big Mac now have an option Vegetarians for a Free Choice. VFC is a nonjudgmental, nondiscriminatory vegetable eating organization open to meat eaters and non-meat eaters alike. VFC respects your personal "right to choose" when it comes to making meat eating decisions. VFC believes it is your right to define what vegetarianism means to you.
As expected, the zealots in the anti-meat-eating wing of the vegetarian movement have already risen up to condemn VFC. "This cafeteria style vegetarianism is completely bogus," they claim. "You cannot pick and choose your own rules for being a vegetarian." Aside from being completely undemocratic, these critics ignore numerous inconsistencies already existing in the movement.
Some of the so-called leaders eat fish, while others do not. Some of the so-called leaders eat animal products like milk and cheese, while others do not. Who, then, are these hypocrites to tell me I can no longer continue to eat my cheese steaks while still calling myself a vegetarian? No longer should we allow these unelected vegetarian leaders to impose upon us their outmoded notions of vegetarianism.
Vegetarianism should be open to all Americans regardless of their eating habits or preferences. Discrimination based upon what one eats is just as pernicious as racism, sexism or homophobia. It is time to set aside our own personal biases when it comes to eating and establish a vegetarian movement we can all be proud of. Now is the time for a more inclusive and tolerant vegetarianism.
Thanks to VFC, Americans no longer have to choose between their Vegetarianism and their fried chicken. They can have both. I encourage all of you to sponsor a Vegetarians for Choice Pig Roast in your local community. If interested, you can even e-mail me for my wife's famous Spotted Owl Casserole recipe.
Dan Coyne "Vegetarians for a Free Choice." Gilbert Magazine (March 2002).
Reprinted with permission of Dan Coyne.
Daniel P. Coyne is the President of Cleveland Right to Life and the President of the Cleveland-based St. Athanasius Chapter of Catholics United for the Faith. He recently helped co-found Hail Holy Queen Communications, a nonprofit organization committed to bringing Catholic radio to Northeastern Ohio. Daniel can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Copyright 2002 Gilbert Magazine
Not all articles published on CERC are the objects of official Church teaching, but these are supplied to provide supplementary information.