Harvard — July 26, 2012 2:05 pm

Why I’m a Republican Vegetarian


“How can you be a Republican vegetarian?” It’s a question I get asked a lot. And since the two do not seem that discordant to me, I find it difficult to answer. It’s like trying to answer “Why are you an arachnophobic Jew?” I hate spiders and I was bat-mitzvahed. By the way, I also like fiscal responsibility and garden burgers.

So I am a “vegublican”, a conservivore, if you will, and I find the two not hard to reconcile. Nevertheless, I will do my best to explain just how I combine the two.

I am a Republican vegetarian because as a conservative, I believe in limited government. A key component in limiting government is avoiding paternalism, which, simply put, is the government imposing a certain moral standard. The government is good for a few things, but few would say it’s the exemplar of morality, much less its chief architect. So I separate moral and political issues as best I can. Since I am a vegetarian for moral reasons, among many other reasons, I can distinguish between the morality in my eating habits and the logic of my voting habits. But try to explain that to the bemused caterer at a Republican dinner function.

I am also a Republican vegetarian because I believe in capitalism and the power to vote with our dollars. A while back I began reading about the meat industry’s environmental impact and was surprised to learn that it accounts for 18 percent of worldwide greenhouse gas emissions. Shortly thereafter, I chose to become a vegetarian. It is a free market solution to a public problem. Moreover, it appears to be working well already. The relatively recent widespread dissemination of information about the environmental, economic, and health benefits of vegetarianism has led to a steady profit decline of about 12 percent annually in the beef industry.

Most importantly, conservatives and vegetarians share a respect for willpower, self-restraint, and delayed gratification. Vegetarianism is not always easy. Far from it, I still have to avert my gaze when my dining hall serves popcorn chicken. But we all makes choices in life, and conservivores believe in occasionally having to tighten the belt for a higher cause.

  • EatABurger

    Why is this article so short? Did you run out of energy because of a lack of protein? Eat a burger.

  • The Godfather

    “The U.S. meat industry is
    a strong supporter of the GOP, and has given the party more than three quarters
    of the $10million of its contributions made since the 1990 election cycle. Hats
    off to Sarah if she wants to combine her vegetarianism with her libertarianism,
    but she might find herself between a Roquefort and a hard place if the attempt to
    separate personal moral action from political affiliation is sustainable when
    the party’s coffers are lined with meaty dollars.”
    Thoughts from a colleague

  • Curious

    Would it be unusual to be a Democratic carnivore?

  • ShadrachSmith

    Well, the point I would make is that Republicans can eat whatever they want, while the Democrats have some political restrictions. Republicans just don’t see controlling other people’s choices as a good thing. You know, Beef, Chick-fil-A, large sodas, are all frowned on for political rather than health reasons. Greater love hath no man than to give up his Big Gulp for his party.

  • D. Robinson

    1. The government choosing to NOT be involved is a moral decision in and of itself. Also a lot of decisions that you would not regard as moral have moral consequences.
    2. If vegetarianism is comprehensive way of addressing climate change I will eat my hat.

  • http://twitter.com/lazer_stone Lane Silberstein

    limit government, but *not* the businesses which exploit animals and
    workers and which shape our meat-obsessed culture? wtf?

  • gogetalife

    why is this post so short? Did you run out of breath because of all the chicken-nuggets inside your fat belly laid on the couch? Go get a life.

  • EatASalad

    I think someone needs to eat a salad…

  • carter

    you might want to put some veggie mayo on it for flavour

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