Home » Food, Search for the (Sustainable) Source
2 February 2011, 9:00 am 24 Comments

Search for the Sustainable Source: The Case For Eating Meat

This post was submitted by Kira


Vegetarian readers beware the following post may turn your tummy.

I am not a vegetarian. I tried it once, right after I discovered the kitchen counter covered in raw meat from an animal my father had recently slaughtered. I took one look at the mounds of red flesh and went running back the safety and cleanliness of my bedroom. I didn’t eat meat for six months.  It was a trip to France that converted me back to carnivorous ways. Really, who can pass up pate and tartar in Paris?

I always find a vegetarian’s motives curious.  There are countless reasons: Environmental, economic, moral, cultural, health, society, habit, to even the simple reason of “I don’t really like meat.”  Strangely though, no one asks meat eaters why they choose not to be vegetarian.  There are arguments for both sides of the issue and the same arguments to eliminate meat from your diet can be used to support keeping animal products as a part of it.

The typical arguments in favor of vegetarianism often begin with the moral issue of eating animals. They then expand to the treatment of animals, especially when it comes to the industrial farming practices and mass production of animals. This leads to the environmental issue: contamination and pollution caused by this mass production and farm upkeep. Most animals are fed grain in today’s farming industry; this is not energy efficient, as it takes not only the energy to produce the grain but also for the care of the animal.  Beyond energy, it does not make economically sense as money is spent and lost along the way.

While these arguments hold true with much of the meat sold in supermarkets today, I choose not to group all meat in this industrial category.   Eating meat, in my mind, is not inherently bad.  Traditionally, I see it as a natural thing (cue for swelling music: Circle of Life).  The idea that an animal, let’s take a cow, would eat the plants that we as humans cannot eat, converts that to energy we can consume, it leads the economical, environmental, energy, and logical sense.  I certainly am aware it is difficult to eat meat of this quality, as it is extremely difficult to trace our food.  So I am left less meat, rather than no meat.

Many people ask me if I am a vegetarian.  Because I rarely eat meat and because I have the whole “food thing going on”, people assume it.  I enjoy meat, and I respect the arguments of vegetarianism, and I agree with most of the arguments. I simply see them a different way. Rather that attribute it to the umbrella of “meat eating is bad,” I prefer to see it as the “modern meat industry is bad.”


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24 Comments »

  • michael said:

    Vegetarians do eat meat, they are just very picky/fussy about it. Vegans eat no meat. As for my vegetarianism, if an animal lives its life out in nature, eating the things it is made to eat and is killed/slaughtered in a more natural manner then I will gladly partake. I do believe we are what we eat and the factory farming industry is not only un-natural but is against mother nature. Meat eating/predation is meant to be but factory farming is a perversion!

  • Cynthia said:

    I’m a vegetarian and have been one for 10 years now. I started due to a really bad health scare and it just sort of stuck. Outside of that, I’m not very staunch in any vegetarian views. Most of my friends eat meat, it doesn’t bother me – I could really care less.

  • andrewd said:

    Great post with a humorous twist. I think if more Americans just ate less meat we wouldn’t be in the situation we are today with the farming practices. You can blame the food pyramid and fast food industries for our over consumption of meet today. I’ve been a general ‘vegetarian’ for 9 years now, though i basically started eating fish and shellfish again about 2 years ago but still no real animal meat. It’s just a health thing for me, more of a ‘i like it, so i’ll keep doing it.’ I was never really a big meat fan for most of my life so that made it easier. I think people should eat meat if they want to, but i highly recommend eating less of it for the well being of yourself and the rest of us.

  • parker said:

    i think what this piece is missing – other than citations or an unbiased discussion of a complicted topic – is any mention of murder. eating meat involves killing something which would, if it had any say in the matter, would prefer not to die. i think people eat meat because they are lazy, uninformed, or willful, i don’t eat meat because i’m not a murderer and don’t wish to be an accesory to murder.

    also, michael’s comment that vegetarians do eat meat but are just “picky/fussy about it” makes absolutely no sense.

    and, in closing, i have no idea what this discussion has to be with being gay, new or otherwise.

  • Hypocrite said:

    Dear vegetarians, I love those leather shoes you were wearing on the Metro yesterday!

    Signed,
    Hypocrisy

  • parker said:

    dear hypocrite-

    it’s cute how meat-eaters get so worked up when someone makes a choice to avoid meat and then explains/defends said choice. the “gotcha” games when it comes to leather, rennet in cheese, gelatin, etc that people like you play when someone professes to be vegetarian atr even cuter. keep it up! it’s very constructive. doesn’t avoid the subject matter at hand at all.

    yours,

    sarcasm

  • queer blogger said:

    I’ve been a vegetarian for nearly 20 years.

    I recently finished reading World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie Wars. I tried to imagine what I’d do of all our cities and systems collapsed. I envisioned myself stuffing a pack with the most rudimentary of tools and heading into the woods. Under this scenario, would I eat fish and animals I could catch in the wild? Sure, I would. It’s the cruel predatory nature of, well, nature. Yeah, it’s murder, but it’s survival of the fittest at a time when survival is a real challenge.

    What is seemingly incomplete about this post is the disconnect between reality and idealism. In an ideal world, meat isn’t “wrong” while it might be far from necessary. In the real world, the suffering of animals, the endless pollution from the animal “food” industry, the inefficient process of converting human-edible grain into human-edible meat — need I go on? — is completely wasteful, unnecessary, cruel and unjustifiable. Want a burger, go into the woods and hunt down a deer.

    While I agree with you that the modern meat industry is bad, that’s 99.5% of all the meat we have right now, so “meat” or “the modern meat industry” are basically the same thing, rendering your concluding sentence nonsensical.

  • Justine P said:

    I would have to agree with Queen Blogger on the point that the meat industry and meat are practically one in the same. Consumerism doesn’t encourage education about where meat is coming from, and meat that we see neatly packaged in the grocery store isn’t coming from a humane, free range farm. Really, I don’t see how eating meat could be deemed a ‘natural thing’ unless everyone caught, killed, and prepared their own meat…but that’s not the case. If everyone did that, then there wouldn’t be such a range of ethical issues that Kira mentions in the article. But it is refreshing to read an article that is observing instead of bashing, and isn’t written by someone with raised hackles.

  • Justine P said:

    Sorry, Queer Blogger* Not Queen. Oops!

  • Wes said:

    I wish, for once, I could come across an argument for eating meat that actually provided thoughtful reasons for eating meat rather than an article that purports itself to do so while lambasting a vegetarian’s choice to abstain – as if it has any bearing on other people’s lives whatsoever. Perhaps it does have a bearing on other folks’ lives, but I’d venture to guess it’s not a negative one.

    I’m sorry if you ever came across a vegetarian who tried to convince you to believe in something you didn’t want to. But by no means are all (or many) of us like that.

  • Marge said:

    I agree with Wes. I clicked on this expecting to see a well-developed article on why one chooses to eat meat because I was interested in hearing from that point of view. This article just seems like half of one half baked point, though. I’d be interested in seeing someone really address this topic.

  • parker said:

    i very much agree with the last two commenters. this is just one person’s excuse for continuing to eat meat.

  • Justine P said:

    One more thing:

    “I always find a vegetarian’s motives curious.” But then you go on to list a variety of quite valid motives for becoming vegetarian.

    “the same arguments to eliminate meat from your diet can be used to support keeping animal products as a part of it”. Where are these arguments? What arguments support eating meat, as I don’t see any explored?

  • queer blogger said:

    @Justine P re “Queen Blogger”. Same thang, grrl.

  • Jake said:

    I was a vegetarian for 3 years as a teenager, but when I got older I realized that I really just don’t give that much of a shit about it. And I find vegetarianism in the name of animal rights/environmental consciousness to be one of the worst forms of slacktivism known to man. The supply-and-demand argument is crap, and we all know it. You get to act like you’re all green & cosmopolitan and evolved and cause-y, without actually DOING ANYTHING. It’s repugnant.

    If you actually care about the harm the industry does to animals and the environment, lobby to effect change, work the system; whatever you do, just DO SOMETHING. Or shut up and go on your deluded merry way, but don’t try to convince me that you’re any kind of activist.

    Personally, I want to devote my energy to helping people, because that’s where I feel my calling is. But if this is an issue you really care about, then go balls to the wall and use your life to make a change. I think the world would be a much better place if everyone just picked one or two causes that really meant something to them and used their life to make a difference in that area. (Like Bill & Melinda Gates’ devotion to eradicating polio & malaria.) Instead we’ve got a bunch of people engaging in this “slacktivism,” getting naked for PETA or taking a picture with NOH8 written on their face or whatever’s fashionable this news cycle, but never actually doing enough to truly help.

  • Dan said:

    I resent the opinion that there needs to be a case made for meat consumption.

    Despite the grotesque process the meat production industry continues to use, I remember a time when vegetarians defended their right at the dinner table with “It’s a personal choice”. Carnivores were encouraged to support it. Do I agree with how we treat animals or slaughter them? No. Do I think it is ethical or necessary to breed animals just to kill them? No. Why? It’s not because I think eating meat is wrong; It’s the excessive quantity. Like our author, I’m left with the decision to just simply eat less.

    I lived in Mali for the last six months. Effectively, I was a vegetarian. When I did eat anything besides rice and sauce, I knew I ate my farm friends. I had a lack of protein. I was malnourished. I’m not going to lie: It tasted damn good and I felt a lot better. In this case, the flesh I ate was traceable and necessary. Now, I’m back and I maintain my rule of “everything in moderation”. I don’t live 10 miles from the nearest place to buy eggs or bread anymore.

    That said, being a carnivore doesn’t mean you have to go around arbitrarily killing animals for the sake of doing it, even in West Africa. When it was Thanksgiving, my former vegetarian friends could not come with me to select the pig to be slaughtered for our pig roast. We knew that a group dinner with 15 protein deficient volunteers would need an animal but decided that it would be better to kill only one than several turkeys. Turkeys cost three times the price and are not nearly as big as the ones in the States. We chose to spare several turkey lives over keeping with tradition.

    When I was younger, my parents would tell me to pay attention to my own plate rather than another persons’. Stop judging others and worry about yourself.

    Dan

  • parker said:

    i appreciate your views and your experience, dan. i also appreciate the time you’ve put into writing a thoughtful response. but you’re missing something key. eating meat involves murdering something. and there are very few situations in which i would find it acceptable to murder something, human or animal. it is not necessary to eat meat. i haven’t touched it for ten years or more and i don’t have any protein deficiency. i’m a 33-year-old man who goes to the gym four times a week and has no problem building muscle and being healthy by using beans, nuts, eggs, etc as my major protein source.

    as far as judging, i personally don’t make myself the meat police. but, if asked, i will tell you my feelings. and my feelings on this issue are that killing an animal is morally wrong. to me, there’s no way around it. i do judge people who eat meat, including my own boyfriend. i think continuing to eat meat knowing how the meat industry works and knowing that it isn’t necessary to murder your food to be a healthy person is, to put it bluntly, depraved. that said, do what you want to do. my judgement is not the one you should be concerned about.

  • Justine said:

    @ “QueeN Blogger” Hahahah!

    @ Dan
    I agree that people should pay attention to their own plate, but the meat industry does affect the world as far as environmental impact. Why should people feel the need to tip toe around this topic? I can see how people who don’t eat meat get passionate about it, but I still don’t understand why people who do eat meat get so passionate.
    And what’s wrong with educating others about negative impacts -even just health-of the modern meat industry? I see no fault with making the personal private if it’s for a good cause.
    I understand that you ate local meat in the scenario you described, but unfortunately very few people are doing that.

  • Justine said:

    @ Jake

    You choose to eat meat, others choose not to. That’s just how it is. Vegetarianism can make a difference and even if you don’t think it does, just let it be what it is: a conscious, ethical choice. Many vegetarians outreach because that is what they are passionate about, and many just make it a personal choice for their own personal reasons, and many just do it because it’s in. I agree that is has become trendy to ‘go green’, but why should it matter why someone stops eating meat if it helps the movement grow? There will always be people who promote awareness and change, and are true activists. I agree that everyone should DO something about what they are opposed to, that is a great statement, but you don’t seem to be passionate about animal rights so I’m surprised you are so passionately belittling vegetarianism.

  • Dan said:

    Thank you for all of your thoughtful responses. I know this is a passionate issue that we may not agree on so I would like you to know I do respect your opinion.

    That said, I still resent the opinion there needs to be a case made about meat consumption.

    Morality or ‘ethical compass’ issue: Merely perception. I believe that my decision to eat meat does not detract from me being a good person nor does being a vegetarian make anyone a better or more ‘moral’ person (some won’t admit that, though!)

    Environmental Impact: Meat isn’t as bad as other impacts. Oil has destroyed the earth, changed our climate, killed hundreds of thousands of men in several wars and political changes, and fueled even larger Haliburton initiatives. (I’d like to think I’m not as bad as Haliburton because I eat bacon. )

    Anyway, back to morality: It is interesting to see that the arguments against meat, mostly ethical and judgment from a “higher authority”, are the same arguments being used against homosexuality.

    As previously stated, keep your eyes on your own plate and I’ll keep my eyes off your boyfriend.

    Dan

  • parker said:

    @dan – i wasn’t going to respond again until you compared my arguments to arguments made against homosexuality. that is the most bizarre, offensive comment i’ve seen on this blog in some time. are you saying my attraction to men is a choice or is your desire to eat murdered animals something innate and such an important part of your soul that denying it would be like dying? i really have no idea what you’re talking about on that one.

    and my eyes aren’t on your plate, dude. but your plate has something dead on it. and if you ask me about it, i’ll tell you that that is not good. not for the dead thing, not for you, ultimately, and not for the planet. getting into a debate about whether it’s less bad than drilling for oil would be childish.

  • Dan said:

    Parker, you misinterpreted.

    I was merely stating that arguments of what is ethical or moral have been used against homosexuality. I don’t think that is bizarre or offensive because it is a fact. I don’t agree with it, obviously, as a gay man myself.

    I do not believe eating meat is an innate human trait as being gay and I’m not equating the two. I was pointing out that the discussion of morality is an issue of perception.

    I could say more but I don’t think it would bode so well.
    I won’t get anywhere and I don’t feel like my arguments are being respected.

  • Marco_Montreal said:

    Meat eaters are just spiritually underdeveloped…Just hopeless.

  • lucille bawl said:

    Oh. I know, Marco Montreal! Doesn’t it feel soooo good to be sooooo morally enlightened and spiritually developed? Especially when we can point it out on computers that are powered by mineral/quartz crystalss that were mined by financially exploited African women.

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