Is a Meat-Eating Cyclist a Contradiction?
In response to James McWilliams‘s still-reverberating post about why more environmentalists don’t promote veganism, a reader named Mary writes:
I have always wondered why environmentalists are so reluctant to promote veganism, but eager to promote alternative transportation. Many residents of the U.S. are currently locked in to their car-dependent lifestyle, with large mortgages in suburbs with no safe sidewalks or bike lanes and inefficient transit. Ditching their car is logistically much more difficult to do than buying beans instead of meat at the grocery store. Currently, the infrastructure for reducing car use is lacking in many communities, though vegan foods, like beans, grains, fruits, and vegetables, are much more easily obtained.
It’s an interesting point. A few related thoughts come to mind:
- One reason that “vegan foods, like beans, grains, fruits, and vegetables, are much more easily obtained” is because of our transportation network.
- When we did a recent podcast about the perils of drunk walking, there was pushback from a quadrant I hadn’t anticipated: the anti-car movement. Their argument was essentially that pedestrians shouldn’t be blamed for vehicular accidents because they (even when drunk) are essentially innocent bystanders, whereas cars are essentially weapons.
- As we explored in another podcast, about personal biases, human beings are pretty good at lining up the facts that fit our personal preferences, even if our preferences are sometimes contradictory. In other words, if I hate cars because of their pollution but love meat, I may find a clever cognitive twist that allows me to keep loving the latter while slamming the former. In fact, the smarter you are, the better you may be at living with these contradictions. Like Whitman said:
Do I contradict myself?
Very well then I contradict myself,
(I am large, I contain multitudes.)
What do you have to add?