Friday, January 14, 2011

Being A Vegetarian in America

I recently became a vegetarian.  I tried it out for about three weeks, then went back to eating meat for a couple weeks, and decided that a vegetarian lifestyle was definitely the way to go.  My reasoning behind it is two-fold.  First I came to think that while it isn't inherently wrong to eat meat, in a society where you can live without it, why not try it out.  Animals have brains and are able to experience fear and pain.  My other reason for going back to it is the way I felt physically.  When I started eating meat again I felt more bloated and heavy in general.

What brings me to this blog post is the way vegetarianism is treated in the United States.  I don't eat out all the time, usually once a week when I go out to dinner with my mother, but when I do go out I find that my menu options are usually very limited.  Meat is Might in America it seems.  Most of the time I choose an entree such as a big salad or pasta dish and ask them to leave the meat out.  The majority of the restaurants I visit do not have any meals that are explicitly vegetarian. 

Restaurants that cater to vegetarians do exist.  I work at a restaurant with a number of menu items that vegetarians go for, such as veggie burgers, veggie sandwiches. vegan stuffed peppers, and vegan sausage.  The cafe where I work is very progressive in my opinion.  They are open to all walks of life and truly enjoy when people who have differing lifestyles come in to eat.  This isn't something I think is true of most restaurants in my area.

Statistically speaking, the United States eats more meat than any other country.  A lot of people I know scoff at vegetarians and vegans.  My personal vegetarianism isn't as strict as some.  I still eat eggs and cheese and drink milk.  My policy is that as long as it didn't used to be a living animal I'm cool with it.  I also try to eat organic foods although that is sometimes not possible and is usually expensive.  The only restaurants I frequent that offer vegetarian meals, other than where I work, are Subway, and Five Guys Burgers and Fries. 

Meat and potatoes is the norm, with vegetables and fruit as an afterthought.  On a typical day a person needs about three ounces of protein.  In the U.S. most people eat a lot more than that.  You can go into a restaurant and order a 12-ounce steak.  Some places serve 1/2 pound burgers.  Is it any wonder that we are the most obese country in the world?  Pretty much every restaurant I go to serves extremely large portions, with the meat dish being the largest.  Like I said, Meat is Might. 

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Acknowledging Atheism

Anyone who knows me knows that I'm an atheist.  I'm very outspoken about my beliefs and I'm not ashamed or afraid of letting people know that I don't believe in a god.  Given this fact, I am starting to get really annoyed when people who know me very well either gloss over or completely ignore my beliefs when having a conversation.  This isn't necessarily happening when talking about religion, so much as it is in general conversation.  The most recent example of this is a discussion my sister and I were having on vegetarianism.

The specific topic we were talking about was the fact that everything that humans eat is alive at one point.  I was saying that it would perhaps be better not to kill animals for food because they have minds and are conscious, whereas plants are not, but when it comes down to it we must kill to live.  She agreed and said something about it being the cycle of life and that's just how God created it.  I let the comment go at the time but it really bothered me.  My sister doesn't really go to church or read the Bible but she believes in the Christian god, and she knows full well that I don't.  I don't think that she made the comment with the intention of starting a debate or in some vague attempt to sway me to agree with her, but it still felt like an attack on my beliefs. 

By stating that "That's how God created it," she pretty much glossed right over the fact that I'm an atheist.  Am I wrong in thinking that was rude?  It wasn't like she was trying to shift the topic of the conversation to religion.  The existence of god isn't something we often discuss, but she often makes comments like this one where my only options are to either start a debate or agree with her, which would be hypocritical and a lie.  In another recent example we were talking about a few certain people we thought were doing things that were wrong and she said "God will give them what they deserve." 

If she wants to discuss religion or the existence of a god, that is fine with me.  I have no problem talking about it with anyone.  She's not doing that though.  She is interjecting God into the conversation as though it is already assumed or believed that he is real.  Given that she knows I'm an atheist, it is, in my opinion, a total disregard for my beliefs.  It would be vastly different if she had said, "I believe that God will give them what they deserve."  Had she phrased it like that there would be an acknowledgment of my beliefs but the way she actually did say it was akin to ignoring the fact that our beliefs differ.

Every single person has the right to believe anything they want, especially in the United States where the First Amendment of our Constitution guarantees us the right of freedom of religion.  On a base level, when people don't acknowledge that a person is an atheist, they are denying that person their freedom of religious belief.  It is making the claim that God exists and saying that they don't have to provide any evidence.  The rest of us are expected to just go along with it and not disagree.  The source of this, in my opinion is the rule of the Christian majority in the last 50-60 years.  Beginning with the addition of "In God We Trust" on our currency and putting "Under God" into the Pledge of Allegiance, and going all the way up to recent years with the controversy over the Ten Commandments monuments placed in public places, Christianity has enjoyed a long period of being in charge.  Over 75% of the United States is Christian so for more than half a century the separation of church and state has repeatedly been violated with little opposition.  Many people that I have encountered make the claim that this is a "Christian Nation."  Because of all this the idea that the Christian god exists is perceived by so many as the default. 

The fact that a person may be in the majority does not mean that others deserve to have their First Amendment rights trampled upon.  Atheism should be acknowledged even though the people who want to ignore it may find it confusing, scary, and difficult to deal with.


Hi, my name is Jenna and this is my blog about atheism and freethought.  I am an atheist but I was raised Christian.  I never really went to church as a kid, and most of my knowledge of God and Jesus came from what my parents told me.  When I was fifteen I started attending a weekly youth group at a friend's church because I wanted to gain a better understanding of God and the Bible, and after attending that youth group for about three years I came to the conclusion that Christianity wasn't for me.  The further I studied the Bible the more I began to doubt it.  For about two years after that I identified myself as Agnostic, believing basically that there probably was a god but that this god was unknowable.  Eventually, as I managed to pull further and further away from the childhood indoctrination, I learned to apply the logic and reasoning I used in all other aspects of my life to religion and came to the conclusion that there was no evidence to support the existence of a god in any shape or form.
I decided to create this blog for the purpose of having discussions with other atheists as well as theists who may have different beliefs and opinions.  My plan is to post new content as often as I can and they will range from my own thoughts to videos and news relating to topics such as religion, atheism, church-state separation, and any other ideas I come up with or anybody requests that I write about.  I'll try to have my first post up soon and I look forward to reading comments and hopefully this blog will get out there to as many people as possible.