If vegetarians want to persuade carnivores to eat less meat, they might consider eating a little meat themselves. The seeming contradiction is offered up by Alberto Giubilini in an essay at Aeon. He begins by offering up a relatively common scenario: A vegetarian is at a dinner party, and the host, either not realizing or forgetting about the guest's vegetarianism, plunks down a pork chop on the plate. Should the vegetarian make a point to reject it, or chow down anyway? Though it may be anathema to vegetarians, Giubilini makes the case that they should seriously considering bending their own rules and digging in. Yes, rejecting the meat might cause the meat-eaters at the table to question their own choices, but Giubilini sees a greater good, from a vegetarian's perspective, in the other option.
"If people perceive vegetarianism as a position that allows for no exception, they are probably less likely to become vegetarian," he writes. "A flexible moral position is more appealing than a rigid one that allows for no exceptions." Specifically, more people might opt to become "flexible vegetarians"—shunning meat on most occasions but indulging every once in a while—if they witnessed such flexibility. True, by eating that pork chop, the vegetarian might lose his strict status as a vegetarian. But "what matters more is that a world with many people who eat meat only occasionally is far preferable to the world we currently live in where there are relatively few vegetarians and a vast majority of carnivores." Click for the full column. (Read more vegetarianism stories.)