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Vegetarians in Paradise
Vegetarian Essays/Vegan Essays

Chris Pellant is a vegetarian who performs original music solo and in a band. Born in Buffalo, he was raised in rural upstate New York, where he spent several summers working on a dairy farm. He received his Bachelor of Arts degree in English at the State University of New York at Albany. He lives with his wife and children in a small town near the beautiful Hudson River.

Chis wrote to Vegetarians in Paradise telling us that he was a vegan who had written a song that takes a humorous look at what vegetarians go through on a daily basis. We are delighted to share Chis and his views with our readers.

Vegetarianism: Inclusion Not Exclusion

By Chris Pellant

At first, being a vegetarian seems like a game of making choices to exclude certain things from one's life. It's a matter of not ingesting animals as food, and, in the case of vegans, not using any animal-based products. This can be very prescriptive and, frankly, difficult in today's world. But I have found that vegetarianism is not about excluding things at all. It's about choosing what to include in your life. Now, this might sound like a distinction without a difference, so allow me to explain what I mean.

The act of excluding something implies that you are somehow getting shortchanged in life: that you are choosing to forego something and, therefore, subjecting yourself to the lack of something everyone else enjoys. In short, it's like you're setting yourself up for suffering: setting yourself up as some kind of martyr for a cause.

That kind of self-aggrandizement could not be further from the truth of the matter. The truth is that as vegetarians we are not denying ourselves anything that is good or wholesome or necessary. We are not excluding important things. No, what we are doing is opening ourselves up to completely new possibilities. The act of exclusion is secondary; the act of inclusion of all of the wonderful healthy vegetarian foods is what makes us who we are. We are not superior to meat eaters; we are not even more enlightened or more intelligent. Why would we be so presumptuous as to rank ourselves higher in the scheme of things to our meat-eating brethren? We are no better. We're regular human beings like everyone else, with faults and weaknesses.

But what we do have is a vision. It's a vision of a world where all sentient beings are treated with respect. It's a vision of hope because it stakes as its essential statement: "We are all living, sentient beings, and although we don't know what that means or where exactly the line must be drawn between us and non-sentient beings (such as vegetation), we're committed to living in a mutual respect. At the very least, we will not butcher and eat one another."

So we're not on a high horse. We're not looking down on anyone. We're welcoming everyone to join us, to share in our vision. We don't have all the answers, but at least we're asking the important questions and changing our lives as we see fit.

My song "Vegetarian Blues" is from this outlook. It takes a humorous look at what it means to be a vegetarian. Because we need to laugh at ourselves when we take ourselves too seriously. We're funny, just like everyone else. This song is a way of saying: "We vegetarians have a sense of humor, a sense of community, and a sense of our place in the progress of humanity. It's not the glory of self-denial or some feigned sense of superiority. That's all a mirage. It's the glory of self-actualization." And that is something to be happy about. Spread the message!

Click here for past Words from Other Birds Articles

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