One of my oldest and best friends is a butcher.
He has worked at Whole Foods, and now he’s at an organic, grass-fed, blah-blah-blah meat company. He’s not on the killing floor, but he does carve up bodies. “Wow,” I told him recently, “we do the complete opposite things in life.”
“Yeah” he said, “I sell gross animal products.” He accepts my stance.
Every time I’m in Northern California, we see each other, we laugh, and have a great time. He visits my family, we feed him plates-full of vegan food. He loves it. I send him and his wife recipes to try.
Career-wise, I’m Mary-Had-a-Little-Lamb (minus the curds and whey), and he’s Freddy Krueger. But friendship-wise, we’ve been Bill and Ted, Burt and Ernie, Sherlock and Watson…I’m just morally and ethically opposed to things he has no problem doing every day.
So what do you do? How can you have a deep relationship—platonic, romantic, or familial—with a meat-eater, when you’re diametrically opposed to some of their major life choices?
Love happens. And I don’t think it should be denied.
You won’t convert everyone you love, nor win every debate. So pick your battles. When I choose not to fight one outwardly, I’m still waging war—by being an excited, happy-about-it representative of veganism.
You know what that leads to? Questions. When he wants health advice, my friend knows who to turn to.
One time, I got him off butter:
See? So much love. :)
If you’re struggling to reconcile your love for a person with their love for eating animals, look at the quandary practically.
What good would ending the relationship do? Would it cause any ripple of change to the exterior world? Would any animals be saved? Would any animal suffering be alleviated?
If you answered yes even once, you might consider ending the relationship (in severe cases), or more likely, modifying your role in it.
If it’s an omnivorous spouse or child that you love, consider not enabling any meat-eating and animal-product-purchasing in your home. You can opt never to buy or cook animal products. If they want it, they’ll have to figure that out themselves. One activist I know even refuses to dine with family unless the meal is vegan. Otherwise, he tells them, they see each other another time.
Love who you want, and love big! But don’t compromise your own morals and values.
Ultimately, you can not control anyone else’s behavior but your own to save animals…fortunately, your behavior has a lot of power and influence.
Keep on truckin’ and watch what happens.
Ruby Roth is an artist, activist, and the leading author-illustrator of vegan and vegetarian books for children.
Buy her books on amazon here.