Vegetarian Who Binges on Burgers

Every morning at 5 am I go online and post a beautiful essay in defense of vegetarianism.  Every day at noon I eat a burger.  I’m not a hypocrite, at least at 5 am I’m not a hypocrite, I genuinely feel sad for the suffering of cows, especially those in factory farms.  At noon there is nothing I would like more than to eat a burger from in and out, especially one with cheese and bacon.

Sometimes at 1 pm I think “Those beautiful essays are by a different guy, a better guy who is forced to share a body with my gross, and greasy, self-indulgent self.”  And sometimes I think “Those beautiful essays are by a fragile, brittle self-conception, floating around issuing moral pronouncements, echoing parental shaming from long ago — a ghost in the bombed-out city.”  More often, I don’t think at all.

Sometimes I think, I know this, I got this.  I am a “vegetarian at 5 am, burger-binger at noon” and that’s a thing.  Why isn’t that a thing?  You do you, they say, and I do me.  I do!  I do.  Me is what I do.  And that — veg burger-binger — is what — one of the what’s — doing me is. And I do it!  And I’m good at it!   The only person who is able to do me, by definition is me.

An interesting way to look at it, and also utterly fatuous, since the only person able to fail to do me, is guess who.


8 thoughts on “Vegetarian Who Binges on Burgers

  1. Lisa S. says:

    I like this because it acknowledges the very basic and ubiquitous experience of internal conflict and the resulting hypocritical behavior. I wish this would be acknowledged as rampant and unfortunately even normative, more widely. I think we can be better people and more “intentional” in our ethical decisions and behavior if we deal with this. I am irked when I see so much outrage and self-righteousness everywhere I look, when let’s be honest, duh, everyone’s a hypocrite on some level or another, often as you hint at, usually many times over before lunch. So why all the sanctimoniousness and denial of such a ubiquitous experience; which we all must know about first hand by the times we’re capable of the mental processes necessary to discern our own thoughts and behavior? Most people must know, what we say and what we want to do some of the time and what we want to do other times, and especially what we actually do don’t match up consistently. What a mess.

  2. One thing I noticed was people seem to be afraid that if they understand the other side’s point (or admit to understanding it) they will be a less effective enemy of it. This came up in an argument I had about whether misogynists are operating from a position of fear that liberated women won’t have their children, and they’ll die childless. I thought this was a pretty good theory actually because it explains the existential dread they have of giving women equal rights, and also their weird fixation on abortion. But the response from a feminist philosopher whom I respect a lot was — no, that’s wrong. Men also control and oppress unfertile women too. Stop empathizing with the bad guys. Just fight them. Which I guess because women are often oppressed by being forced to empathize with their oppressors — it’s part of the emotional labor that patriarchy exacts on women. But I also think it makes you a more effective fighter against bad people and bad ideas if you understand them. Know yourself, know your enemy — a 100 battles a 100 victories.

    • Two things trouble me about your reply. First, as Rodney King said, “Can’t we all just get along?” People who disagree with us are not ipso facto our enemies. They might be mistaken — or *we* might be mistaken — but that’s a different thing. Second, their motives for making arguments are usually irrelevant to the arguments’ validity. People on all sides of various issues engage in that kind of psychologizing, but it’s still not very helpful, whether for resolving social disputes or finding the truth.

    • Why do you think it’s impossible for somebody to work to further a political agenda that is so unjust that they earn your enmity? My Uncle Paul Feldman was an enemy of Imperial Japan for example. I’m an enemy of the Alabama GOP.

      • It doesn’t seem to me that the cases are comparable. Pearl Harbor was not a political disagreement, and that was a war.

        But more generally, I see the meta-issue as this: If the United States disintegrates, it will be a catastrophe for everyone. Unless we can all dial down the emotion and start giving each other the benefit of the doubt, it might very well occur. If you will forgive me for regurgitating Gordon Wood (“The Idea of America”), it’s quite striking how the same kind of situation led to the American Revolution:

        “The same general disgust with a chaotic and corrupt world, the same anxious and angry bombast, the same excited fears of conspiracies by depraved men, the same utopian hopes for the construction of a new and virtuous order.”

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