About Vegetarianism

published in Pro Natura, 1987

When I found myself face to face with the great proposal of vegetarianism, I tried to agree to it several times but with no success. Yet I could not eat meat “with a sort of mysticism”, as Furio Allori proposes in his article on n. 133 of this Review, because I felt an unspeakable sense of guilt. Only after aver a year of a stubborn trying, time and time again, I achieved my objective: I have been completely vegetarian far seven months. This victory has conferred to me a decidedly less selfish view and has led me to the perception of myself as a more responsible citizen of the present age. I have found sometimes tacit and other times manifest encouragements to reach the aim I have set myself in the examples of the Gandhis and the Schweitzers, in contacts with those who have been vegetarians far a long time and in this Review which has featured articles about this very contemporary subject from a long while.

After achieving my goal I have wished to speak to as many people as possible about the subject in question. A sort of sampling without any pretence of casuistry just to know people’s attitudes towards the problem. From the more superficial and not interested people I have heard definitions such as: “Vegetarianism is a mere fashion” or “Vegetarianism is a diet to lose weight”. I have also met people who are more attentive to the question but who shift the terms of it: vegetarianism cannot concretely help to solve the problems which afflict our society. Some time ago, for example, a friend contended that in order to be less selfish you must do something real far the society (to work for the handicapped, the old, etc.). With visible work of this nature, one feels fulfilled, whilst vegetarianism would certainly not turn us into aware and active citizens of our time.

In my opinion doing one’s utmost for sick, handicapped, or old people gives more tangible and satisfying results because they are obtained in a short time. Yet being a vegetarian does not exclude becoming available under other labels. No, on the contrary, vegetarianism is one step on the ladder leading to the indiscriminate love far all creatures and consequently to sentiments of non-violence. Because if I feel tenderness for the lamb trotting still unsteady after his mother or far the bird flooding me with his songs, so I must be consistent. My love can not and must not remain a purely aesthetic love, but it needs to be realized in a proof: not to kill (just in consideration of the fact that man can live according to a vegetarian diet). Vegetarianism is a very slow path, a long-term help, an armless struggle which proposes an ambitious aim to itself: disarming man from selfishness and violence inherited from ancestors. I do not know if “we shall all be there” in the end. If it is not like that, perhaps we shall not be “satisfied”. Yet, we shall not have to question our right to proselytize. In fact trying to get to the root of man in order to extirpate violence and selfishness is a right cause. That is the point. The good never gets lost and the effort to discover the existence of the Idea (even if we could not attain it directly) will remain in the collective memory of the future prehistory which will be involved in our own self-destruction or which will start the journey towards the catharsis.