The claim, made by some omnivores, is that eating meat is a “free choice”:
“What you choose to eat (or not to eat) is up to you. Adults should be free to decide how they live their lives, what they eat and drink, and how they enjoy themselves.” (source)
Eating meat is not a “free choice” if there’s no alternative.
In some ways, saying “everyone should be free to choose to eat meat” is like saying, “everyone should be free to choose to smoke cigarettes.” Both meat and cigarettes can be hazardous to your health. Both are hard to quit. And neither are truly free choices.
It’s not “free choice” until vegan options are readily available EVERYWHERE. Until someone can choose veganism as easily as they can “choose” meat, neither choice is a truly free choice.
Very few people who eat meat have made a choice to eat meat. Most have never not eaten meat. They’ve always eaten meat and they’ve never been vegan. Most have never had a wide range of vegan options at restaurants. Most have never noticed or sought out the vegan options at grocery stores. Most have never been truly exposed to the vegan lifestyle. They might know one or two vegans, but they know hundreds of meat-eaters. They’ve never seen veganism as a truly viable option.
Eating meat isn’t a free choice when…
…it’s the only option in most restaurants, schools, hospitals, etc.
…it’s the status-quo
…people don’t have full knowledge about all their choices
…the animals killed have no choice
When vegan food is as readily available as nonvegan food THEN it will be a free choice. Until then, meat-eaters are merely “sheeple” just doing what they’re told, doing what’s expected. They haven’t made a free choice at all.
If you are a meat-eater and want to say you’ve made a free choice to eat animals, go vegan for at least 30 days. TRULY explore your other options to make sure you’re really making a free choice.
Likewise, going vegan is not a truly free choice either. For many people, going vegan is difficult at first. Being vegan is like swimming against the current. It’s not the easiest, simplest thing possible. You have to defend yourself against mean meat-eaters (not all are mean, but plenty are). You have to learn (or relearn) how to cook. You have to learn (or relearn) about nutrition. It could be easy, the way eating meat is easy, but it isn’t. It’s a bit of a struggle, especially at first.
Many people want to go vegan, but don’t know how. Many people want to go vegan, but don’t want to deal with the stigma. Many people want to go vegan, but don’t have the will power. For them, it’s not a free choice. For them, it’s a difficult choice, like quitting smoking.
Sure, it’s a choice they can make, but it’s not like choosing bananas instead of apples or red over blue. Going vegan is like choosing life over death, compassion over cruelty, and kindness over killing. We all KNOW what’s right. But doing it can be a bit of a challenge sometimes.
If you’re a vegan congratulations! You’ve overcome the social obstacles. If you’re a vegan-wannabe, you can do this. I promise you, you can go vegan! It gets easier everyday!