On hypocrites: Graham Hill of Treehugger talks about why he’s a “weekday vegetarian” »
As a vegan, there are few things more nails-on-chalkboard grating than hearing yet another word or phrase invented by green-minded omnivores to feel better about themselves for eating meat. If you call yourself a “pescatarian” or “flexitarian,” unless you can point me to the pesctable and flexifruit aisles of the produce section (and no, Monsanto gene-splicing doesn’t count), you’re really just a meat-eater appropriating vegetarianism to latch onto some kind of perceived moral credibility.
So I braced myself for Graham Hill’s TED talk on “weekday vegetarianism,” half-expecting to get a new neologism-from-hell (weekdaytarian? weekdgan?) out of the deal. I had always known that Graham Hill wasn’t, in fact, a vegetarian, and has spoken about it quite candidly on Treehugger. He knows it’s a contradiction, and, as an environmentalist who should know better, he still can’t bring himself to never eat meat ever again.
In a way, it fits. Treehugger is very much in the “What do we want? Incremental progress! When do we want it? In the second quarter of next year!" vein. They celebrate bikes and bike lanes, but they also really want you to read every fuel-efficient-car press release.
Graham Hill is a hypocrite, and he knows it. He goes one further: he embraces his hypocrisy to (he hopes) commit a mainstream audience towards making better choices. Because given two binary choices—don’t eat meat/drive/pollute vs. live the McMansion/SUV/Walmart dream—most people will pick a side, and it’s not the one we’d like.
Consistency has achieved the status of our highest national virtue. It’s better to let the world drown in oil and choke on cow exhaust than be a “hypocrite” explaining away the daily contradictions of living in the world; when you’re explaining, you’re losing, they tell us. But maybe the world needs more hypocrites, individuals who are at least committing to something better, and nudging others who would normally leave their heads buried deeply in the sand.
We still need vegans and vegetarians more than ever. It keeps the Overton Window wide open, and makes room for this idea of “well I could never do that, but I could do it half/most of the time.” Graham Hill’s punchline? ”If all of us ate half as much meat, it would be like half of us were vegetarians.” I would take that in a heartbeat.