It’s weird. The “Hitler was a vegetarian” thing. I was involved in an online discussion of vegetarianism recently and someone posted the cryptic message… “Hitler was a vegetarian. (Enough said!)”
Now, the person posting was almost certainly just making a stale wry comment. But still they got me thinking. See, having been a fairly strict veggie for most of my life (I recently relaxed things a little for health reasons), it’s a line I’ve heard time after time. But I’ve never really understood it. Leaving aside the somewhat salient fact that he wasn’t, in fact, a vegetarian; what’s a person trying to say when they claim “Hitler was a vegetarian”?
Are they saying: “being a vegetarian doesn’t make you a good person”? Is that really it? Because I don’t actually know anyone who claims that it does. Most vegetarians simply feel that their conscience won’t permit them to be involved with the meat industry (for ethical or ecological reasons). The rest eschew meat for more direct “empathy” reasons. Only a total nutter, or a sanctimonious fourteen year old, would make the claim that their diet makes them a good person. Certainly nobody serious.
Vegetarians believe that involvement in something so questionable as the modern meat industry is a choice they simply don’t need to make. So long as an adequate alternative diet is readily available; as it is; then choosing not to eat meat is no different to choosing not to participate in blood sports. It doesn’t make you a good person to obey the dictate of your conscience. Merely a normal one.
That said, the odd hostility with which vegetarianism is often met makes me wonder if there isn’t a lot of defensiveness going on… like maybe there’s lots of people not listening to the dictate of their own conscience. Can you imagine hassling someone at the dinner table because they don’t like badger-baiting?
Apparently Hitler also wore socks. Oh, and I’m told he liked to listen to music. Next time you encounter someone listening to a cd, why not point out that “Hitler was a music listener”. Then add enigmatically, “enough said” as though you’re making some general point about listening to music. If the person listening to the music is also wearing socks (and is eating vegetables), it’s probably best to scream “FASCIST!” and beat them to death. Y’know… just in case they decide to annex the Rhineland and invade Poland.