I went to a non-vegan restaurant with friends and was reminded how challenging it is to live vegan in a society founded on animal abuse and the psychological mechanisms that facilitate it.
The three people I had dinner with are all “good” people… a married couple who both had eminently statured careers in academia, and an engineer.
They’re interesting, personable, friendly people whom I respect and care about.
The restaurant was classy, full of diners. The interior had attractive aesthetics.
But I felt uncomfortable because my companions are non-vegans who ordered meals containing cut-up animal parts.
I haven’t seen non-vegan food for a while. It made me sick to see other animals’ breasts and other body parts on a plate.
I studied the menu trying to find vegan options. Out of approximately 25 main entrees or side orders, only two appeared to be vegan.
I asked the waitress if there were any animal products in the items and she said there were not.
My companions questioned me about being vegan. Why had I done it? What about protein deficiency? Did I miss non-vegan food?
I recommended they read VeganSamurai.org for a full explanation of why I went vegan, but that the short answer is, veganism is the only dietary system that’s good for personal health, environmental health, and animal health.
And that’s when my companions’ cognitive dissonance, deliberate unknowing, and moral evasion became very apparent.
They agreed that veganism is the morally defensible dietary paradigm.
But they cavalierly talked continuing to eat meat, fish, eggs, and dairy even though the animal food industry, and animal foods themselves, are harmful to animals, Nature, and people.
Not only that, one of my companions is severely overweight because of his dietary choices, and suffers greatly because of it.
In an ironic moment, he talked about his addiction to foods that were killing him… as he ate foods that were killing him.
It was if I’d been sitting in a restaurant with companions who casually admitted they were shareholders in or employees of a company that committed genocide or other horrors.
It reminded me of a conversation I had with a self-described “pacifist and anti-war activist” who worked for a military contractor making weapons of war.
I recalled the book and videos by Dr. Melanie Joy who explains that carnism–the belief system that supports the eating of animals– creates moral deadening, denial, and self-delusion.
When my beet salad and veggie burger main course arrived, I looked at them carefully to see if there were any animal components.
I couldn’t see or taste any, but to my dismay, at the end of the meal when I was asking if there were vegan desserts, the waitress told me my salad had had cheese in it.
This explained the queasy, heavy feeling I’d started to experience as soon as I ate the salad.
And I mused to myself that if there was a Church of the Vegan Samurai, I’d have to go to confession and tell the priest, “I need forgiveness, for I’ve eaten foods produced by harming cows,” and seek absolution.
But as of yet, there is no Church of the Vegan Samurai.
I was left to feel guilt about my inadvertent “cheese sin,” and the incongruous experience of communing with nice people I care about… except they’re willing participants in the violent, dominant culture of speciesism and carnism.
To put it bluntly, my friends support the animal-killing system that to me represents the greatest moral failing of our species.
All of us who truly care about animals realize that living vegan in a death culture means we’re often forced to compromise, camouflage, and “be quiet” when we’re with people who participate in carnism.
We love our family, lovers, friends. We want to “get along” with people.
We don’t want to dislike people for the deliberate, needless sins they commit against innocent animals and the environment.
We grieve for the obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and other maladies they create for themselves because they eat animal foods and processed foods.
Vegans are the dismayed witnesses to the core immorality that animal-eating represents.
Other than the animal victims themselves, vegans are the only people who viscerally recognize we live in a world dominated by carnistic people and systems that create massive harms and suffering.
This is yet another reason I created the Vegan Samurai concept.
A samurai is a warrior who works hard to stay strong and resolute no matter what battles are looming.
A Vegan Samurai is often alone in a cruel world, surrounded by carnistic people who participate in the genocide against animals.
All you have are your vegan ethics, honor, principles, and strength as antidote to the heartbreak of being part of the only species that enslaves billions of innocent animals, destroys its own health, and trashes the earth.