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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
- see the menu on the right for more topics
    Rainforest beef -- Two different looks at the situation.
    Are most vegetarians liberals or conservatives?
    What does the religion says about vegetarianism?
    How will becoming a vegan affect sex drive?
    Is it true that vegetarians lose sexual desire?
    Names of animals versus names of animal based foods
    Is it possible to be a vegetarian with a partner who is not?
    You're just one person. How is that going to stop animal cruelty?
Rainforest beef -- Two different looks at the situation
Hamburger chains frequently get blamed for deforestation in Latin America. This isn't really true, and saying it over and over just makes us look bad, since knowledgable carnivores can just refute it.

The situation is this: in Brazil in particular, but throughout the region, governments, attempting to repay crippling foreign loans, sell/give away land to 'developers' at fire sale prices as long as they do something to 'develop' the land. The cheapest way to do this is to clear cut and use the land for cattle pasture.

Thus cattle grazing is a main cause of deforestation. The problems w/going from this to blaming the Whopper are: as the knowledgable meat-eater will tell you, most Latin American cattle have hoof and mouth disease and just waste land for the sake of wasting land because they can't be sold for beef.

As a result, the Amazon is a net beef importer, and second, rainforest land is so poor that it's only suitable for grazing for a few years. An excellent book on this and other rainforest issues is _The_Fate_of_the_Forest_ by Susana Hecht and Alexander Cockburn.

Other sources indicate that, while South America IS a net importer of cattle (ignoring the huge quantities of processed meat product exported from Argentina and Brazil to the U.S.), central america does export live cattle to the U.S. These cows are labeled as U.S. when they cross the country line.

Another important aspect to this is that soya cattle feed, grown on rain forest plots, is exported in huge quantities to feed the cattle in other countries. It is not possible to say that the beef burgers in the U.S. are not directly or indirectly responsible for the destruction of the rain forest. It is not possible to say that the U.S. imports NO beef from the rain forest.

Even if the cow herself has not been on rain forest land, the food that she has eaten most likely has.

Are most vegetarians liberals or conservatives?
from a reader in Australia: Depends on what country you're talking about. "liberals" in australia are like "conservatives" in the United Kingdom. Generally, it is impossible to make a distinction based on politics, but people active in "Green" political parties are perhaps more likely to be vegetarian.

from a reader in the UK: Who cares?

What does the religion says about vegetarianism?
See: Religion and Vegetarianism for articles on all major religions.

How will becoming a vegan affect sex drive?
from a reader in the UK: Why not try it and find out?

Is it true that vegetarians lose sexual desire?
from a reader in the UK: Sure, that's why vegetarian couples never have any children... (ask a stupid question....)

Names of animals versus names of animal based foods
It is a common misconception, and often argued wrongly by vegetarians,that the use, in the English language, of pig/pork, calf/veal, cow/beef, sheep/mutton etc. has something to do with meat-eaters pretending they're not eating animals. This is not the case.

In mediaeval England the peasants were Anglo-Saxon but the aristocracy was Norman-French, this followed the conquest of England by William of Normandy (France) in 1066. The aristocracy compelled the peasants to looks after the animals but rarely allowed them eat any meat (see the Food in England thread for more details).

The peasants called the animals by the Anglo-Saxon names - pig, calf, sheep etc. but the aristocracy, who ate the meat, called it by the French names for the same animals - porc (pig), veau (calf), boeuf (ox or bullock), mouton (sheep).

This got Anglicised slightly over the centuries but this distinction between these animals and the meat has remained in every English speaking country around the world. Animals which were not commonly eaten by the Norman-French aristocracy, eg chicken, turkey, rabbit etc, have the same name for the animal and the meat.

Is it possible to be a vegetarian with a partner who is not?
from a reader in California: I have been a vegetarian for 14 years with a non-vegetarian husband. I think that our dietary differences do not cause a problem because we respect each other's position. He does not demand a meat course for every meal, and I do not denigrate him for choosing to eat meat. At least once a week I offer to go out to dinner so that he may have meat. (He doesn't take me up on this as often as he used to because we got a satellite dish and subscribed to NHL Center Ice. Hockey can be brutal, but it's not as bad as the slaughterhouse.) I keep some frozen meat-based entrees on hand and he knows that whenever he would like to supplement my vegetarian meal, I will make no comment about his choice. My husband has never complained about my being a vegetarian, and has defended my choice to others who mock vegetarianism. In return, I never put him down for remaining a carnivore.

from another reader: I have been a vegetarian for about 10 years, and am marrying a person who loves meat. My basic stance on my vegetarianism is that it is my choice - every day I make the choice to not eat meat. I do not judge people who chose differently since I have always hated being judged for my choice (is there anyone else who has had to defend their choice to complete strangers?). As a matter of fact, I don't even mind cooking meat for my sweetheart (although my repetoire is limited since I haven't done it in so long). I have long since labeled my choice as one of consumption - I chose not to eat anything that died (and once had a face). If I cook for him, and don't eat it, then by my standards, I have not done anything wrong.

from a reader in South Carolina: For me its not really feasible to date or be romantically involved with someone who eats meat. At least in that I've never had it work out. My beliefs about the social, ethical, and environmental problems associated with meat consumption are deepset. Most of my friends are meat eaters and this doesn't bother me. But when it comes to romantically loving someone, its difficult for me to do so without agreement on these issues. In the part of the world where i live, this basically traslates to not dating anyone, but i'm content with that.

from a reader in Australia: I have lived happily for more than 7 years with my non vego partner. It is an interesting situation for me because not only is he a dedicated meat lover so are all his friends and family! (Some relatives work in the slaughter industry) So am I living a contradictory life and compromising my belief system? Or am I an ambassador for Vegetarians? It would certainly be easier if I had a partner who was vego too. But then again ,if you have chosen to be a vegetarian you will find that alot of things in your daily life become irreversably complicated. If you conduct yourself with integrity and conviction you will be surprised at what you can achieve!

You're just one person. How is that going to stop animal cruelty?
from a reader in the USA: As with any great cause, change happens one person at a time. If we live by example, others will follow, and they in turn will influence still others. There is a ripple effect that can one day change the world. But what if we were to influence no one? By practicing harmlessness and nonviolence, we can sleep at night with the knowledge that not a single animal had to suffer and die for our selfish benefit.

from a reader in Portugal: Well, Mr. Gandhi was certanly the first in his comunity, back in South Africa were he studied Law, to believe in a free India, without the exploitation of the Brits. Still, he got what he wanted - a free country. On the other hand you may see your choices as personal, and not intended to 'change the world'. Some people are Vegan for themselves, that is, they care about the harm that they (no longer) do to animals and they feel fine about changing themselves - without having the immediate goal of 'changing the world'. Imagine that you are the only non-racist in your block/town/country. Would you change your way of seeing the issue just because you were alone?