A piece of peace (for diet choices)


Alice Yu

Born as Guiseppe Caruso, Pino Caruso is an Italian actor and author. A native of Palermo, Sicily, Italy, Caruso was born on October 12, 1934. Caruso debuted as a stage actor in 1957 and went on to collaborate with newspapers and magazines, writing as a columnist in daily newspapers like Il Mattino and La Sicilia, and took part in numerous films.
As a pescetarian (I eat fish, but I don’t eat land-based meat), I often receive some light-hearted scrutiny for my life choices. The most common question I hear is, “Why don’t you eat meat?” to which I reply, “I just don’t like the texture of it.” More often than not, the conversation moves along and life is well, but some people go further and decide to judge, voicing their opinions on how vegetarianism is pointless and stupid (though a lot of times, people confuse vegetarianism with veganism, which are two completely different things). To those who look down upon vegetarians, pescetarians and vegans, I would like you to pay attention to Caruso’s quote.
When I found this quote, I smiled with glee and sang Hallelujah. Finally, someone stood up for those who don’t eat meat. Not eating meat doesn’t make me any weaker or any less normal. It’s simply a life choice that’s as normal as choosing between vanilla or chocolate ice cream. A look at history can confirm that vegetarianism was actually a widely practiced ideology in some early civilizations, such as ancient Babylon and ancient Egypt. It wasn’t until Aristotle stated that the animal kingdom existed for human use and that animals were the equivalent of slaves that vegetarianism received widespread scrutiny.
As the Romans and the Christian religion adopted Aristotle’s views, the superiority in slaughtering animals for food became the dominant view in the west. Pythagoras, who was a vegetarian as well as a mathematician, taught that animals should be treated as kindred, but as Aristotle’s views gained favor, Pythagoreans began to keep their vegetarian practices a secret for fear of persecution.
Alternatively, there are also many instances where vegetarianism was the dominant practice in a society. One instance is the when the Indian king Asoka who reigned between 263-232 B.C.E., converted to Buddhism, ending animal sacrifices and encouraging vegetarianism practices throughout his kingdom. Some early religious philosophies, most notably Hinduism, Brahmanism, Zoroastrianism and Jainism, stressed an abstinence from meat like early Buddhism did. As is evident in today’s culture, many of the religious ideologies have become more liberal in their diet.
Vegetarianism isn’t stupid or pointless. What’s stupid and pointless is making fun of someone else’s choice of food. Recently, the meat-eater replied to the vegetarian’s call to stop slaughtering animals by stating that since vegetarians eat the food source of herbivorous animals, they also play a role in an animal’s death. Sure, as someone who eats a lot more vegetables than others, I may be stealing the food supply of other animals, but at least I’m not creating the demand for their murder.
By Alice Yu