Retreat Retreat (The Gentle)

Here is a man to be pitied because he can’t eat meat. He says he can, but he prefers not to. In that case, we can still pity him but for lack of will and weakness of spirit for not enjoying life as we do and denying himself the food we enjoy. He says he dislikes eating meat; he says tofu and seaweed are also nutritious; and a will to conform is like subservience of which he, in his stubbornness, is free. We complain that his dietary restrictions infringe on our freedom to eat with him where we please. We say a rule isn’t a wall; it’s a window. He says his window is closed, but he can see through the glass. He says indulgence would hurt him more than abstinence, but a man’s virtue is not how he takes pleasure; it’s how he suffers. We say he who chooses to suffer is sick. Besides, he says, he’s allergic to penicillin. That’s another story. A medical excuse does not presume a judgment against animals who eat other animals disregarding the damage they do to the ecosystem and their own health. We say no one’s perfect but if it’s a contest anyone could be equally self-righteous.

The Gentle