Growing up in a Catholic conservative household, there was always a right way to do things, from going to church on Sundays to turning the other cheek. I never found much hardship in following any of these standards in my life; they just seemed like the right thing to do. I rarely made any lifestyle changes that my parents did not approve. As I got older, though, I started to challenge some beliefs. Most of the time I would come to the conclusion that my parents’ takes on those beliefs were right. When the Bible and the Constitution are there to lay out the rules, they’re made pretty clear.
This routine went on for a while, and I hardly challenged any of my beliefs anymore. But, one day in my high school economics class, we had a guest speaker and she announced that our talk was going to be about factory farming. Naturally, I assumed the talk would be about animal cruelty and such. I had seen videos in the past where celebrities talk about why they stopped eating meat as they showed clips from gruesome slaughterhouses in the background, but I always just ignored these because, hey, I liked meat.
Judging from the first few minutes, this class presentation was different. Instead of repulsive slaughterhouse videos, the presenter was showing us how factory farms impact the environment and people. No matter how you feel about animal cruelty, it isn’t sustainable for anyone. Producing food to feed and fatten up these 1 billion animals killed every hour in the United States (USDA 2015 U.S Slaughter Totals, by Species) is killing forests and that we’re running out of places to put the waste ...and that they treat animals horribly. That day I decided to stop eating meat.
My parents were not enthused and insisted that I forget about it. They showed me passages in the Bible where it was seemingly evident that I was supposed to eat meat. However, I couldn’t bring myself to do it. I lasted about three months as a full blown vegetarian until I compromised with eating meat once a week. This allowed me to feel good about my efforts while at the same time alleviating my cravings.
After a while, I figured that as a conservative, I should have some reasons why I can be simultaneously conservative and mostly vegetarian. It honestly stumped me for a long time, until I took it back to the basics of conservatism. What it really comes down to is the free market, where people can do whatever they want until they realize that it's not personally feasible. This ties in well to vegetarianism, veganism, or even pescetarianism. When a person makes any decision to purchase or not purchase a product, it influences the market. It may be a small change, but it is a change.
There isn’t anything inherently conservative or liberal about vegetarianism. It’s all about how a person chooses to pursue it. If a person isn’t happy about how the animals are being treated or how the waste is being disposed of, then he should seek another firm or product all together. What shouldn’t be done is demand that these business be required to be transparent or request government regulations regarding anything someone sees wrong with the company.
In the end, I’m not a conservative vegetarian. I am a conservative that practices vegetarianism in a conservative way. Similarly, there are liberal vegetarians out there, but they really just practice vegetarianism in a liberal way- i.e., demanding government intervention.
With the percentage of obese Americans being 39.6 in 2015-2016 (Prevalence of Obesity Among Adults and Youth: United States, 2015-2016) and the poverty rate being 12.7 percent in 2016 (Income and Poverty in the United States: 2016), the demand for cheap, accessible food is high and thus supply must be as well. Any government regulation that limits the amount of cheap, accessible food will not be very popular for the poor or obese. Rather than limiting these choices, people who see problems with the factory farming industry should feel free to refuse service, spread the word, consult with the company, or all of the above.