In the section of A Sociology of Food and Nutrition written by Deirdre Wicks titled “Humans, Food, and other Animals: The Vegetarian Option” the root of vegetarianism is explored. Vegetarianism is defined as a diet consisting of no meat. However, as Wicks states, vegetarianism is a broad term that has been used to describe, more generally, those who refrain from eating flesh. The sub categories of lacto-veg, ovo-veg, a combination of the two, and those who eat fish all fall under the title of vegetarian. It is fair to say that this term has a subjective definition that is free for interpretation, except for vegetarians who take on the exclusive title of vegan. This notes their rejection of all animal products from their life including food, clothing, and furniture. Now how do these groups socially fit into a society such as the United States?
Micks notes in the reading that the vegetarian movement has “historically maintained long-standing links with movements such as ethical socialism, animal rights, anti-vivisection and pacifism.” For those unaware, the anti-vivisection movement is focused on removing animal testing from the realm of science.(See link for more info) http://www.navs.org/site/PageServer?pagename=index These social movements are more often than not associated with the hippies of our culture, the radicals, “those people.” Many people stereotype all vegetarians and especially vegans to be the type of radical PETA people that are seen in the news throwing paint and making a scene for animals’ rights. Many people in the U.S. are uninformed and are unaware that most vegetarians and vegans are not the pushy, belief shoving groups looking to convert the world.
It is hard, if not next to impossible to completely change the way people eat. Many techniques have been used to try and inform the public of the horrors of the meat industry such as animal treatment. This information for many vegetarians has been the reason for their choice of diet. How else can the public possibly be inspired to take a minute and consider how high levels of meat consumption have led to the state of the meat industry? Many people when asked how they feel about the treatment of animals in the industry do genuinely feel bad, but they follow up the statement immediately with “What am I supposed to do about it?” or “I’m not the only one doing it.” If you ask the greater majority if they could possibly adopt a more vegetarian diet, the response will most likely be similar to what Wicks describes as the “I should but…” attitude. It is seen as such a radical change of diet when all it really takes is a little risk to try something new. It is hard to change the social momentum of a society that has been as dependent on meat as the United States. It is too easy to continue our fast paced lives just the way they are instead of stopping and considering “Hey maybe I should think about what I eat and where it comes from.” That’s all it would take. I think we would all be better off if we were to take a minute to consider the simple question, “Am I ok with the way I eat?” no matter what the answer may be.