My university requires everyone to take a public speaking class because they think such skills are essential to the job market today. I 100% agree with this, so I was looking forward to taking this class and have to admit, now that it's almost over, that I wholeheartedly agree with the fact that it is important. The way that my specific professor chose to structure the course is with three speeches: one where you introduce yourself in three minutes, one where you do an informative speech in seven minutes, and one where you do a persuasive speech in ten minutes.
Today was the start of the persuasive speeches, and I chose to do mine on vegetarianism. While other classes get to do their speeches on "why blah blah blah is the best otp out there" or "why macaroni and cheese is the best invention since wonder bread" my class has the type of professor that requires our speeches to be controversial, which is actually really challenging. So I went with vegetarianism because I could become a veg-head extremist and talk about world hunger, and cute animals, and health benefits for ten minutes, even if I didn't become a vegetarian due to starving populations in the world because I was five. How the heck was I supposed to know about any of this back then?
In reality, I became a vegetarian over 15 years ago because meat simply does not sit well in my stomach, because I wasn't a fan of my mother's way of cooking meat, and because I think meat is gross. Do I care if people eat meat around me? No. Do I care if people want to engage in a lively vegetarianism vs. anti-veganism discussion with me? No. Do I care if people try to shove their opinions down my throat just because they think meat is delicious? Yes, I do...a lot. I try to avoid shoving my dietary beliefs on other people, and I expect the same treatment in return.
Right before my speech, my professor had an anti-vegetarianism/veganism presenter head up before me. This was essentially what felt like a ten minute attack on me, with lots of eye-locking and smirking here and there. This guy knew exactly what my speech was on, and I was completely blindsided by his topic with no advanced notice whatsoever. My Professor was almost upset when I chose to not question him at the end of his speech and instead allow my own speech to do the talking. I did not sign up to be personally attacked or thrown into a surprise smackdown, and I was livid when this happened.
I had to go up immediately after this guy and present a ten minute argument on a topic that I support, but with arguments that I don't necessarily agree with. No, I don't think the entire world should become vegetarians because there is such thing as the natural food chain and some people have too many allergies to do so, but I think everyone should seriously consider a vegetarian lifestyle because of its health benefits and ethical views. So when I finished, it came no surprise to me that this student immediately raised his hand to attack, and that I was able to defend myself enough that the professor had to cut him off and allow someone else to speak. I felt like this guy was just aggressive and volatile at times, instead of informative and civil, and that is not a fun feeling, made doubly crappy when I ended up walking to the cafeteria behind him to pick up an OJ while he and three of my classmates just ripped my speech to shreds.
I was forced to stand in front of a class spewing arguments I don't really believe in to get an A, only to be thrown into a surprise verbal smackdown of ideals against someone who is very aggressive and opinionated when I prefer to avoid verbal confrontation when it involves forcing your ideas down other peoples throats. There's a difference between debating a topic and attacking someone over their views, and I personally felt attacked and the way in which I was hit just really frustrates me a lot.
So I just wanted to take a moment to ask you guys, what are your thoughts on vegetarianism? I personally am a proud vegetarian that loves cheese, but I could never go vegan because of that. I think having a proper discussion without jumping down someone else's throat is healthy, and I want to see that happen here.
Are you a vegetarian? Have you ever considered becoming a vegetarian? Or is it simply not for you? Share your thoughts below!