Puppies and kittens

I was having dinner with a fairly omnivorous friend at a trendy vegan restaurant in Greenwich Village. At some point the topic of varying cuisines came up.

I am a conscientious vegan, which means that for ethical reasons I eat only plant based foods. But I don’t have any objection to other people eating whatever they happen to eat, because I hate when people tell each other what they are supposed to do.

My friend had just related to me a story in which he had been dared to eat something without being told what it was. Only afterward did he find out that he had been eating whale.

He told me that he had gotten really upset, because he would not have purposely eaten whale meat. He had a level of sympathy for whales that moved them out of the category of food.

This made it easier for me to explain that becoming vegan had not involved any willpower at all on my part. It was, rather, a category shift. Here is how I explained it:

Just because something tastes yummy and is nutritious doesn’t necessarily make it food. And it doesn’t take any willpower to refrain from eating something that isn’t food.

For example, puppies and kittens might taste delicious, if you were ever to try them. And they would probably be quite nutritious. But you probably don’t think of them as “food”, so you still wouldn’t want to eat them.

Of course all of this is culturally relative. Your mileage may vary.

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