I recently became friends with a vegan. I frequently tell her how illogical veganism is and how they are hurting animals and not protecting them when they scream “blood sports” (i.e. hunting) are evil! Any way, I found an article that addresses veganists on a moral ground. Atheism and I disagree with much on a foundational level, however, we have found common ground here! Below you will find that article. Enjoy!
I’ve grown weary of the growing number of proselytizing tirades from vegetarians and vegans; especially when they try to make eating meat a moral issue. Vegetarianism is a dietary preference . . . that’s all it is. Vegans take vegetarianism to its illogical extreme and invariably attempt to make it a moral issue. When they do, they are, at best, confusing compassion with morality. At worst, they’re food fascists wielding the scepter of moral superiority.
Go ahead and cite all the reasons why humans are herbivores. Yeah, list them to your heart’s content. Done? Now, get in your car, drive around, open your eyes and mind, then soak in the reality: McDonald’s, KFC, Burger King, Wendy’s, Sizzler, and other chain restaurants that purvey meat. How many restaurants don’t purvey meat? Barbeque, seafood, Chinese, Mexican, Italian, Japanese, Thai, French, Cuban, whatever: they all prominently feature meat. It’s even hard to find an Indian restaurant that doesn’t begrudge meat on their menu. Now don’t you feel silly, standing there with your list of reasons why we’re herbivores? There’s no denying we’re omnivores. Period.
If you’re unfazed by practical evidence, maybe physical proof might persuade you. Omnivores are adapted to eat both plants and animals. Herbivores are adapted to eat plants. This doesn’t mean herbivores can’t eat meat: it only means they’re physiologically evolved for a diet of plant material. By the way, it should be noted at this point that NO mammal is 100% herbivore – not even the ones we identify as herbivores – because no mammal can survive infancy without mother’s milk (or a man-made “formula” concocted as a substitute) . . . and as you know, mother’s milk is laden with animal fat. Anyway, Vitamin B12 is produced by bacterial symbiosis in both plants and animals but can only be consumed from meat; not veggies. According to the FDA, the USDA, the CDC and their counterparts in other countries, vitamin B12 is not available from plants: you can only get B12 from meat or from synthesized B12 found in artificially fortified foods and pills. This is proof that we are not adapted to eat only plants: it’s proof that we’re not herbivores. Close, but no cigar. We are not herbivores. Period.
And, by the way, calcium can only be found in a select few dark green leafy veggies, such as: collard greens, turnip greens, bok choy, mustard greens and a few varieties of seaweed. The USDA warns vegetarians that: “Consuming enough plant foods to meet calcium needs may be unrealistic for many.” Humans are, and always have been, omnivores. It’s not a matter of opinion: it’s a simple matter of fact – and thus, not subject to debate. “Humans are herbivores” is a ridiculous claim from the get-go regardless of how many vegan propaganda publications you want to cite to the contrary.
Then there’s the “primates are herbivores” variant of the argument. It’s hard to tell if those who make this argument are ignorant, stupid or lying. The fact is: some primates are herbivores and some are omnivores. Humans are primates and, as already established, are omnivores. Chimps will also eat meat, sometimes scavenging it. If you go back far enough (millions of years) through our evolutionary history, you’ll eventually reach a predecessor species that was an herbivore. That was then. This is now. Since then, our predecessor species began supplementing their diets with meat. By the time homo sapien sapiens entered the scene, we were solidly in the omnivore camp: with the teeth and stomach to prove it. We have ALWAYS eaten meat: we’ve always been omnivores. It’s in our genes.
Another argument that flies in the face of reality is the “vegetarian diets are healthier for you” claim. I will concede that it is possible to eat a strictly vegetarian diet and remain healthy. But the fact is, you need to eat a wide variety of plants – augmented by B12 and calcium fortified foods or pills – to meet your minimum dietary requirements. And that means you need access to those plants and fortified foods – the full complement of which are only available in well-stocked grocery stores. Even then, doctors recommend dietary supplements to make sure vegetarians get all the nutrients they need. If you’re in the U.S., then you can likely find everything you need at the grocery store (assuming you can afford it). But if you’re in the third world somewhere or in a remote area, you might not be able to sustain a healthy vegetarian diet.
I did try a vegetarian diet, many years ago, when I was young. I never felt satisfied and my jaws frequently ached from chewing, chewing, chewing. Soon meat became too tempting and I quit after about a month or so. There was no sense in denying what I am: an omnivore.
Vegetarian diets are not the healthiest diets. Authoritative dietary experts agree that the healthiest diets include a wide range of foods, including meat and veggies. Research indicates that fish and white meat are normally healthier than red meat but red meat is fine in moderation. Claims to the contrary are pure poppycock.
Many vegetarians started eating a veggie diet because they were turned off by the sight or experience of eating meat. The grease and juices and sinew; the idea that it was alive and kicking just recently. Not much can be said about these subjective reasons. If that’s the way you feel, that’s the way you feel. I don’t begrudge you your vegetarian dietary preference.
Most vegetarians believe it is wrong – as in, immoral – to kill animals for food. If they really believe this, they’re confusing compassion with morality. There’s just one thing they need to keep in mind: morality can’t deny reality and remain valid. The indisputable fact that we are omnivores is a fundamental human reality. My morality accommodates this reality. What about yours?
Mother nature is a zombie. She’s red in tooth and claw. Life can be ugly and survival is, more often than not, violent. I don’t feel sorry for livestock because they’ve filled an evolutionary niche, in service to humanity, that has guaranteed their genes will be passed on indefinitely. Livestock are prolific because of animal husbandry – which dates back to the first domestication of animals. Not only are their large populations assured . . . they no longer have to face predators, draughts or famines. When slaughtered legally, a sheep, cow, pig or chicken led to slaughter dies without the panic and adrenaline terror that accompanies the pursuit, capture and tearing of live flesh, by predators. You think the slaughtering of livestock is inhumane? It’s immensely preferable to what Mother Zombie has in store: death by starvation, dehydration, disease or predator.
The most annoying vegan claim is the claim of moral superiority. I am repulsed by claims of moral superiority for the same reasons I’m repulsed by claims of racial superiority: it’s totalitarian, fascist and intolerant. Give me a break! It’s ridiculous to pretend that morality hinges on eating meat. Morality has multitudinous considerations that we adhere to by varying degrees relative to each other and relative to other people. Diet is just one of those considerations. Even if eating meat were a moral issue (and it’s not), not eating meat doesn’t make you morally superior. It’s just one of many facets of morality: are you morally superior in every way? How naive can you get for Christ’s sake!?! Such a clueless claim serves only to reveal a deep-seated insecurity: the same as with neo-Nazis and skinheads. Superior my ass!
The three monotheistic, Abrahamic, religions – Judaism, Christianity and Islam – all claim possession of the one true God and, by extension, the moral truth. Because they worship the one true God, their morality is, naturally, superior to all others. It’s these claims to superiority that has made the Abrahamic religions THE most persistently divisive influence in the history of mankind. By claiming moral superiority, vegetarians and vegans are making the same mistake. Morality doesn’t hinge on which God you worship and it sure as hell doesn’t hinge on what you eat.
Vegetarians and vegans should consider the possibility that they’re confusing morality with compassion. I will readily concede they have more compassion for livestock than I do. But so what? Compassion, like morality, has multitudinous considerations that we adhere to by varying degrees relative to each other and relative to other people. For instance, animal rights and women’s reproductive rights are both embraced by liberal-minded progressives – not that you have to be liberal or progressive to embrace them. It’s been my experience that many of the same liberals who bemoan the plight of livestock also endorse late-term abortions – even up to the end of term.
Now, keep in mind that late-term abortions are abortions performed after fetal viability (i.e. the fetus could survive outside the womb, given appropriate postnatal care). Claiming that reproductive rights trump fetal viability all the way to the end of term is the same as claiming it’s okay to kill a fully viable fetus! A fully viable fetus needs only to be removed from the womb to instantly become a baby: a person. Whether it’s internal or external is a mere technicality.
So what we have here is a person who cries out for the plight of livestock, yet has no problem with killing a fully viable fetus. How, exactly, does this person define words like ‘inhumane’, ‘compassion’, ‘humanity’, ‘morality’, ‘progressive’, or ‘reason’?
Cognitive dissonance much?
And finally, there’s the “toxic to the environment” argument. Well, insecticides, fungicides and synthetic fertilizers are also toxic to the environment. They are necessary to protect harvests and feed the world’s 7 billion mouths. It would be more accurate (and less biased) to say that food production – both veggies and meat – are toxic to the environment. But of all the environmentally harmful factors we must deal with, it ranks well below vehicular and industrial pollution (not that this means we can safely ignore the problem). ‘Green’ farming is a nice idea but can’t yet achieve the production levels necessary to meet demand.
Oh yeah, I almost forgot . . . the reason our predecessor species suddenly developed bigger brains is because they began supplementing their fruit, veggies, legumes, tubers, grains, nuts and seeds with meat. It wasn’t just our brains that got bigger; so did our bodies. Vegetarians and vegans need to ask themselves, if a vegetarian diet is so good for us, why did it take meat to make the difference in our intellectual capacity and physique? The switch from herbivore to omnivore is a major milestone in our evolution.
Vegetarianism/veganism is not a proper topic for proselytizing. If you prefer to just eat veggies, then good for you. Implying we are less moral or less humane because we eat meat is simply ignoring the facts in a futile attempt to foist your personal preferences on us. We don’t appreciate it. Humans are omnivores: we eat meat and most of us love it. That’s not going to change any time soon.
Get over it.