Currently viewing the tag: "Debate"

publicenergy _ Cow

To meat or not to meat.

That, apparently, is a hot button issue.

I brought it up yesterday on Facebook and Twitter (rather apolitically, I might add).

That was it. What followed, particularly in the thread of comments on Facebook, could have, with less civil participants, been yet another battle in what what one friend termed, the “Paganinvore War”.

Thankfully, it was not.

People get really heated over the question of whether or not to eat meat. It’s charged. It brings up a whole host of topics that I hadn’t considered when I updated my status (i.e. privilege, cultural traditions, cruelty, sustainability, etc). My accidental slip into vegetarianism, a way of eating that I took on for nearly 6 years at one point in my life, happened just before falling to sleep…. on the eve of World Vegetarian Day, no less.

“I probably shouldn’t eat meat,” I said to my husband, a vegetarian for over 20 years.

That was it. I’d eaten a lamp gyro earlier in the day, and then I thought about lambs, and then it didn’t feel right to eat lamb gyros.

Simple as that.

I think it’s important to note that my husband has lived in many different financial situations during his life as a vegetarian. I wouldn’t normally think to include something like that here, but I read a number of arguments in support of meat eating that seemed to paint all vegetarians as rich, privileged Westerners. My husband lived off of lentils and brown rice for a good stretch of time. He could have spent that money on cheap meat, but he chose not to.

And ugh…. This is where it seems to get complicated. I’m doing what I read others do on my thread, and what I think might be a behavior that makes it so difficult to talk about food choices. I’m getting defensive. I’m justifying my husband’s choices. I’m making my case.

I’m a big believer in making the choices you can or want (depending on your situation) to make. I’ve been eating meat for a good while, in part because I’ve thought it made me feel better, physically, and also because I just enjoy the taste of meat. But I’ve also made the choice not to think about what I was eating from time to time, or where that food had originated. In a way, I think it’s been necessary for me to do so in order to feel ok with some of my choices.

I don’t think that willful denial is really a responsible way to live.

People should eat how they want to eat, and in certain cases we eat what we can eat. (I mean, I was a big consumer of potted meat on white bread sandwiches when I was a little kid. That stuff was cheap and delicious.) But we also need to be honest about where our food comes from. All of us. That means the vegetarians who live on nothing but beans and rice, as well as the vegetarians who eat nothing but high priced meat substitutes. Same goes for the meat eaters. Those who eat the meat from Wendy’s need to have a sense of where their food comes from, as does the guy paying a truckload of money for that cut of organic, grass-fed cow.

I have to assume that, having not developed a relationship with a farmer/rancher which enabled me to source where my food was coming from, I have been complicit in an industry that I would consider (if I had the opportunity to observe it from a close distance) inhumane. If I’m going to eat meat that comes from that industry, I think I need to own up to that fact.

What I don’t want to become, however, is someone who shames other people into taking on the same way of thinking. If I reach the conclusion that I’m going to refrain from eating meat I have to make that decision for myself. I can’t hold it over someone else. And if I decide to keep eating meat I need to own that decision as well. Shame can come from either direction, and I’d rather not become someone who cultivates a practice of shaming others for their choices.

Be the change, right?

(Gandhi was a vegetarian, by the way.)

I need to — paraphrasing the Pope — reach for what is good, as I conceive of what good is.

“That would be enough to make the world a better place.”

So for now I’m going to hold off the lamb gyros. I’m going to beef up (no pun intended) on my bean intake. There are a lot of ways to get your protein, after all.

And, no doubt, I’m going to sit back and watch as more of my readers and friends explain what motivates their dietary choices. The discussion on my Facebook post was insightful, and wonderfully civil.

Carry on.

P.S. I kind of love the Pope.



My Queer friends don’t want to be called Gay or Lesbian. Too many connotations. Not accurate enough to their own personal experiences. They’re much more complex than what those labels allow for. Gay is too easily marketed to, and at this point completely co-opted by the mainstream.

Gay is Will & Grace. Queer doesn’t even own a TV.

My Gay friends don’t really understand Queer. What’s wrong with Gay, they ask? There’s a history to the label; rich and complicated, and worth preserving. You lose that legacy when you abandon the label. So what if you’re anti-mainstream? You’re still subject to oppression from the mainstream, aren’t you? Bigots don’t care if you call yourself queer or gay or faggot or tranny. Its all the same to them. You’re Other, no matter how you choose to self-identify.

Thus, the Gays, Lesbians and Queers remain distant, abbreviated letters — G’s, L’s & Q’s, with B’s & T’s squeezed tightly between the three stodgy siblings.

Pagans Are SO Gay

I’m watching this debate go on about the validity of the term “Pagan”, and whether or not it’s useful anymore. Admittedly, I’m a newbie in the Pagan community. But, I am no newbie Gay. And, I feel there’s a valuable parallel between our struggles that no one is picking up on.

The GLBTQ…xyz community, in actuality, is not the tightest knit community. We have little pockets of community. We micro-organize. We have bars, community centers, gathering places, apps. We have parades. But, we’re a tiny minority living in the midst of an often antagonistic majority, and the subcultures within our subculture often don’t understand each other or work toward a common end.

I see the same thing going on right now with Pagans.

Some Polytheists may not consider themselves Pagan any more than most Queers consider themselves Gay. But, the Queers are out there having that crazy homo-sex. You know… the thing that first led the Gays to seek one another out, to organize in protest of widespread oppression? Remember all that Stonewall jazz?….

And the Polytheists are out there worshipping those same Old Gods that all the Pagans are buying statues of in our local metaphysical shops. Polytheists may approach their religion with more academic backing (or they may not), and they may feel compelled to reestablish and align themselves with cultural identifiers and practices which have long since disappeared (i.e. Reconstructionism). But, whether you trace back your spiritual lineage to Gardner or to an unnamed Celtic Warrior of Old, you’re still a part of something that’s happening right now, in the world. This world. The present.

Identity v.s. Branding

This isn’t so much a question of identity. We’re pluralistic, the LGBTQ’s & the Pollies/Pagans. There isn’t ever going to be a single identity which we can embody, and I think it would be a shame to make that a goal. Our diversity is what gives our respective cultures their intrinsic value. I don’t think anyone is trying to reduce us down to the lowest common denominator.

This is really a question of how do we — Polytheists and Pagans — wish to be portrayed outside of the festival grounds. I wouldn’t use the battle language that Laura LaVoie used, but the sentiment here is mostly the same. When we try to make our place in this world, amidst a religious majority that might not allow us the space or respect we deserve, what will unite us as a people. Our title?

T. Thorn Coyle may have said it best when she wrote:

What do I think is this thing that ties such diverse ways and means of practice, experience, and belief together? We all have a sense of “Divine with us on earth.” The Gods are not just far off in Asgard, they are in our gardens and our homes. Goddesses don’t just live in some distant place, they help us run our businesses, and teach our children. And these Gods and Goddesses have their own agency, too. Paganism(s) and systems of magick – as they exist in contemporary religious expression in this loosely knit group of practitioners – hold theologies of immanence in common, whether this is directly acknowledged or not.

Do we need to develop any more interfaith language around this? Must we have a single word that defines the whole group? Or, is it possible for us to make space for an individual’s choice to reject Capital Letter Titles in favor of a label that feels more specific and resonant with her own religious approach (like, for example “I am a priest of the Old Belief, a polytheist through and through, and more than anything else the Heroic Life is my religion“).

It’s a Queer approach, but if done with respect for the hardcore Pagans and the diehard Gays it may be the next step in our spiritual and cultural evolution.

What do you think?

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