By Elisa Camahort
AFTER MY last column, a veg response to sustainably produced "new meat," a reader accused me of thinking I was "morally superior" to those weren't veg*n like him.Call me crazy, but I don't think the intersection of morals, ethics and human behavior is quite that simple. Let's start with the premise that anyone is perfect. No one is—not the Dalai Lama, not Mother Teresa, certainly not me (or my readers). We all make choices and take action every single day. Sometimes we live up to our own, best ideals. And sometimes we fail.
The question is: Do you believe that most of us at least attempt to behave in ways we think are the most ethical or moral? I do believe that.
So yeah, I am a vegan because I think it's the most moral dietary choice, which means that when I fail at it I am not living up to my own moral code. And it means those 18 years I was a vegetarian, but not a vegan, I was doing the best I could at the time, but inside I felt it wasn't enough. If you draw the conclusion that I think not being a vegan is a less moral dietary choice than being a vegan, to me that's a great big "duh, of course."
But—and it's a bit but—my level of goodness (or badness) is not built on this one life decision alone, this one choice. There are plenty of ways in which I am confident I am less moral than many a carnivore.
For example, every year I do my taxes and realize that I was not as generous as I thought I was. I could—should—donate more to the causes I believe in. I'm your classic single-passenger commuter who considers getting a hybrid, sure, but doesn't consider taking public transportation to work. On a more personal note, I have this unkind habit of getting impatient and snappish with my S.O. when I'm really just stressed about something else. I could share more—serious and silly, past and present, but I'll leave it there. My point is that my attempt to follow a particular moral path in one part of my life does not mean, in my mind nor, I assure you, most other people's, that I am a morally superior person.
It's not binary. On. Off. Black. White. Moral. Immoral.
None of us is perfect.
We are all of us works-in-progress.
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