Nice article from www.salon.com... A vegetarian's guide to talking to carnivores Wednesday, Aug 24, 2011 13:01 ET by David Sirota Link to complete article Following my recent column about vegetarianism, I received a wave of hate mail from meat eaters. This came as no surprise -- as food has finally become a political issue in America (as it should), some carnivores have become increasingly aggressive toward anyone or any fact that even vaguely prompts them to critically consider their culinary habit. .... Carefully Consider Your Public Explanation Before Speaking .... Today, there are three levels of explanation that generally generate three distinct reactions from carnivores on a sliding continuum that runs from completely accepting all the way to belligerently hostile. The first -- and safest -- public explanation is personal health. With science telling us that meat eating is linked to heart disease, cancer, obesity, E.coli poisoning, Salmonella poisoning, Mad Cow disease and other such ailments, this rationale is the one that's most easily accepted by angry carnivores because it doesn't imply judgment. It allows meat eaters to rationalize their flesh consuming fetish by telling themselves that what may not be healthy for you is perfectly healthy for them. It probably isn't, of course, especially if the meat eater you are talking to is an average American consuming the typical (and unfathomably huge) 194 pounds of flesh a year. But that's beside the point. The second public explanation you can offer is environmentalism. Again, the science is clear and overwhelming. Meat protein takes an obscene amount of energy to produce compared with vegetable protein. As Cornell University reports, "Animal protein production requires more than eight times as much fossil-fuel energy than production of plant protein while yielding animal protein that is only 1.4 times more nutritious for humans than the comparable amount of plant protein." Meanwhile, meat production generates huge amounts of toxic waste (Google "hog farm" and "lagoon" for a taste). This is why the United Nations has called the meat industry -- and therefore, meat eating -- "one of the ... most significant contributors to the most serious environmental problems, at every scale from local to global." However, with the environmental rationale, you are likely to get at least some vitriol from carnivores because it does imply a level of judgment. When you say you are a vegetarian because you want to do right by the planet, it implies that the person across the table who is happily shoving that bloody steak down his throat doesn't really care about the environment. The third public explanation you can use (and the one I use because I feel so strongly about it) is morality -- but beware: This is almost guaranteed to get you screamed at because it's seen as a direct judgment of the meat eaters' personal value system. So, when you are inevitably asked about your vegetarianism, any hint that you don't want to eat meat because you don't want an animal to have to die for your palate will likely get you either condescendingly ridiculed as a tree-hugging hippie or viciously attacked as an arrogant, conceited holier-than-thou freak. Typically, this will involve all sorts of laughably labyrinthine arguments from carnivores. They'll insist that because you sometimes swat mosquitos, you're a self-delusional hypocrite, and that because they have enough guts to buy nice vacuum-sealed packets of bloodless, viscera-free pre-killed beef at the supermarket, they are the truly moral, consistent and courageously honest heroes of the food world. .... Quick Answers to Typical Attacks On Vegetarians Read the full article for typical arguments and useful responses. A number of commenters have said what commenter Jeffrey P. Harrison said: "I am a carnivore [and] it's none of your damned business." This is usually where the conversation with angry, over-aggressive carnivores ends up -- with the carnivore going libertarian, refusing to discuss the substance and science of food decisions, other than to declare it an entirely "personal choice." The problem, of course, is that these decisions are everyone's business when they threaten our collective air, water and ecosystem, as meat eating disproportionately does (as shown above). Indeed, trite "live and let live" platitudes sound great in theory, but they aren't applicable in the case of food -- and specifically when meat eaters' culinary obsessions are unduly threatening the planet's future.