I am not a good vegetarian.
It’s not because I fall off the wagon, so to speak. I don’t.
I have been told perhaps three times in the past 10 years by hardcore militant vegans that believe any use of an animal for human consumption — to eat or wear — is blasphemous and that I should be essentially ashamed of myself for saying I’m a vegetarian.
Each time the hardcore militant vegans got in my face they read me the riot act.
Was I eating fish or fowl? No. I consider both meat. Was it because I partake of things made from milk or eggs like yogurt or chocolate chip cookies? No, although they considered that a moral lapse.
Was it because I don’t condemn hunting? Fortunately that topic never came up. So what set off borderline self-righteous rants? I own leather jackets — real leather jackets.
At one time I had 12 until I started giving them away cutting my collection down to five.
What brought the three scary encounters back up — and they were scary as they were with strangers who had a hard time controlling their dripping outrage — was the fact I ended up buying another leather jacket on Saturday.
It was an impulse buy. I definitely didn’t need another leather jacket but then again I didn’t have a dark blue leather jacket. And if you know me they have to be leather jackets bought at Wilson’s Leather. We had stopped at the San Francisco Premium Outlets to check out the Nike store when we came across Wilson’s Leather. Pardon the expression for those hardcore militant vegans out there, but it was akin to waving red meat in front of a starving dog.
The second I stepped into the store I started smiling as it triggered recalls of the self-righteous one-sided tirades designed to shame me into forsaking leather jackets. I’ve got bad news for the hardcore animal rights activists — it isn’t working.
You’d think that they’d be happy for the past 31 years I haven’t consumed meat — including fish or fowl — and that I’ve never hunted and have had nothing but rescue Dalmatians as pets. (Oops, we’re not supposed to “own” animals are we?)
I couldn’t help but think how my experiences with people — including the three hardcore vegan militants — who try to peg me and therefore determine what politically correct behavior I am supposed to adhere to under their view of the world reflects what is wrong with political discourse and engagements these days.
Over the years people said they were shocked to discover I was a registered Republican because I drive a hybrid, am an avid Sierra and desert hiker, and ride racing bicycles. All three activities are supposedly the hallmark of a liberal Democrat.
When I was younger and had long hair that touched my collar (this was back in 1975 in a small town half the size of Escalon) lots of people assumed I was liberal.
If I told them I was Republican they’d automatically assume I had a narrow and specific set of values when it came to social issues that were 180 degrees to those that I actually have.
When I travel out of state and people ask where I’m from and I tell them California they assume I’m to the left of Nancy Pelosi, surf, smoke pot, drink wine, and voted for Hillary Clinton.
There are a lot reasons why we hold different values, have different tastes, and enjoy different pursuits.
Just because I am a vegetarian doesn’t mean I share the same values of other vegetarians nor should I be expected to do so. The most aggressive of the three that went borderline berserk after finding out I liked leather jackets at one point in her rant said I was worse than meat eaters because I should know better.
Not only was this priceless coming from a 20-something female that I barely knew, but it made me pause wondering if she understood concepts such as free will.
I had no desire to engage her in further conversation not as much due to concern that she’d continue to slam my values without listening to me explain why I have them but because I actually thought she was capable of doing something irrational. It wasn’t that she intimidated me — far from it. I was about my desire not to escalate the situation.
Maybe it is because it is so easy get wrapped up in our self-righteousness is how we got to where we are today.
People screaming about what they believe is the truth aren’t as much intimidating those that think differently as they are convincing them there is no percentage in trying to engage in dialogue.
This might explain how they interpret silence or non-engagement by those that think differently as acceptance only to be stunned when the vote is taken and it doesn’t go their way.
Militant hardcore vegans can scream all their want. I’m going to continue my lacto-ovo vegetarian diet but at the same time I’m going to keep buying and wearing leather jackets.
I don’t expect them to mirror my values. Nor should they expect me to mirror their values.
This column is the opinion of executive editor, Dennis Wyatt, and does not necessarily represent the opinion of The Bulletin or Morris Newspaper Corp. of CA. He can be contacted at email@example.com or 209.249.3519.