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On Vegetarians & Meateaters

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Why Vegetarians want to eat Meateaters..or..Vegetarians are crazy & Meateaters are stupid

Yesterday, another blogger popped into the comment section of my blog after having read the “About me” (where I casually mention that I don’t eat animals), and tried to pull me into a debate on the subject of vegetarianism. I personally hate this debate (not to suggest that it isn’t a debate worth having). I don’t try to convert anyone, because  in some ways I have given up on man kind, in other ways I don’t believe that such conversion is even possible. Still, there I was being goaded into an a discussion. There is a marked flippancy with which meateaters usually start this debate and it is annoying as hell to me. Not to say there isn’t a righteous indignation with which vegetarians approach it, that can be frustrating for meateaters.

I do see both sides, as in some ways I exist on both sides, but I think that vegetarians have it harder. The reason it is especially vexing for them to partake in this argument is that their opinions on the matter stem out of true conviction, to their core the suffering of animals disturbs them, they see the injustice and move against the status quo in order to incite change. If nothing else their is a noble cause. Meateaters however are just arguing to argue, and are only as invested in the issue as their dietary proclivities go, additionally they are in the unchallenged majority. They eat animals because of a life long habit & because they taste darn good on the grill, moral considerations do not inform their eating habits. All in all the levels of emotional and intellectual investment when it comes to this subject are starkly disproportionate between meat eaters and non-meat eaters. Which is why this debate is always ripe with an off-putting righteousness emanating from the vegetarian side and an annoying flippancy/disinformation spewing out of the meat eating side.

The three main reasons the vegetarian debate is an exhausting one for me are:

  1. I am not THAT informed. I know that entering a battle without proper weaponry and armor can do your cause  more harm than good. I wouldn’t want to give anyone the satisfaction of a false victory simply because I came unarmed and in my bathrobe, this would only cement their erroneous carnivorous convictions.
  2. What’s the point, when the mental block erected in the heads of most meateaters on this subject is almost entirely impenetrable by argument, no matter how empirically sound the data. Why? Because the culture of meat eating and use of animal products is as much a part of us as is religion or family. We are indoctrinated into it nearly since birth. To recognize that history as a problem, to reject it, is both dispossessing and divesting, it would require a sort of rebirth. 
  3. I love meat, I am the most struggling vegetarian of them all.

As Item # 3 states, I am one of the most reluctant, tortured vegetarians I know. I LOVE meat. I am a foodie. Before I evolved into a rather bad Vegetarian this year, I had spent many years contemplating the glaring wrongs of the meat industry. I worked on building the connection inside myself between those wrongs and the meat on my plate, and it hasn’t been easy. I knew that to break years of habit and dietary preferences I had to incite a change of heart and mind within myself. During those years I was not able to move myself beyond contemplation and to take action for change, I had my steak and ate it too, with a side of guilt. But what it really comes down to is self discipline and attrition. Recognizing the undeniable truth even if it hurts, even if it means depriving one self of a way of life, to be replaced by another.I feel I had to sacrifice a part of myself in order to make room for growth and what is right. What makes it so hard, is that what we eat is not merely about what we enjoy or what’s available; eating is often about culture and family, it’s about tradition and a connection to the past. Our food choices are closely intertwined with our sense of personal identity, and trying to change them can feel like a kind of self annihilation, loss and even disenfranchisement.

In my effort towards a vegetarian lifestyle, I had to push past my mental blocks by treating meat eating as a routine to be replaced with a ritual of abstaining. My greatest obstacle has been in that I LOVE MEAT, and am unable to make an emotional connection between animal suffering and a hot dog. I am like Dexter i abstain via routine, because otherwise I always just want to eat the hot dog. When it is in the freezer or in the skillet I don’t see the grisly death of its source animal at all, I just get hungry.

HUNTING

In fact as a vegetarian, you think I’d abhor hunting, but I don’t. I used to abhor it when i still ate meat and refused to acknowledge my own part in the rise and expansion of factory farming.  Not to say that I support hunting now, but a clean, quick death is a blessing to an animal, in comparison to how Tyson fills grocery store shelves with dead flesh. I now feel that the Animal loving community’s vitriol towards those who hunt is somewhat misguided and not necessarily rational, unless it is stemming from devout vegans. If we are condemning hunters, as morally bankrupt and cruel, then logically speaking we would have to extend this condemnation to every single person who shops for meat at a grocery store. Just because your average house wife doesn’t actively prey on animals in the wild, doesn’t mean that her impact on factory farmed animals is not equally as(or more) damaging. There is no doubt in fact that anyone who contributes to factory farming by shopping for meat at the grocery store is in fact supporting an industry of unmatched and abhorrent cruelty, one which far exceeds the violence of hunting in the wild. Every time we buy hotdogs, bacon etc, we fund a widespread culture of animal breeding for lifelong abuse, anguish and death.

First I’d like to offer the simplest explanation of why I think it is wrong to consume meat in the year 2014. In truth, as i indicated, my issue isn’t even meat eating, it’s the meat farming. It’s the treatment of animals raised or procured for food. It’s the apathy. In a word*, it’s FACTORY FARMING.The human capacity for torture, mistreatment and brutality of living things is hard to comprehend, the capacity to pretend like it’s not what’s happening is even harder to fathom. We read in horror about crimes committed in say, Africa, by people against people. We wonder how they can do such horrendous things as dismemberment of children, disembowelments, grisly maiming. How can they not feel compassion, take pity? Have they not hearts, no souls. Yet, around here, boiling lobsters alive, living creatures with long life spans and intricate social systems, is a completely common practice by decent, even animal loving folks?  How can someone see a creature struggle and writhe in a scolding pot, scrambling to get out, and not take pity I wonder, not feel like crying? We find it unconsciounable that in the middle ages people were often boiled alive, they would be slowly lowered into the cauldron by a rope. That wasn’t an uncommon form of execution or torture. It seems unconscionable now, like something out of a horror movie. Can you see the hypocrisy? That’s what really blows my mind. We are all no better than those rogues chopping up children in the less “civilized” corners of the world or the ancient people of the middle ages, in fact we are worse. For all our education, for all our purview of history and science, abundance of resources, ingenuity and claims on morality, we still can’t muster the obvious compassion due a boiling lobster or a factory farmed pig.

FACTORY FARMING at a glace

  • 97% of the 10 billion animals produced for food are tortured and killed each year are farm animals
  • In this country, roughly 29 million pounds of antibiotics — about 80 percent of the nation’s antibiotics use in total — are added to animal feed every year, mainly to speed livestock growth.
  • A typical supermarket chicken today contains more than twice the fat, and about a third less protein than 40 years ago.                                                                                                                
  • Sows are kept pregnant the entirety of their miserable lifespan in gestation crates – or sow stalls which confine a sow during her 114 day pregnancy and then the next and then the next. It is so small that she cannot even turn around, she is often chained to the ground as not to try and get up…her entire life.
  • Pigs, sheep and other animals have their tails docked (cut off) with a pair of pliers, without any anesthesia.
  • Pigs are often still alive, when being dropped into boiling water intended to clean/ soften their skin before butchering.
  • On average, to produce 1kg of animal protein requires nearly 6kg of protein in the form of feed grains.
  • Around 30% of the nitrogen that pollutes water in the EU and US is from livestock, more than 70% in China.
  • Male chicks are ground up alive

Don’t get me started on veal or foie gras.

Anyways, as I said, this list goes on and on, it is terrifying not only because of the glaringly barbaric treatment of animals, but also because of the crippling effects intensive farming has on the environment. In the end, it won’t be an atomic bomb that blows up the world, it will be intensive animal farming. Most people are blissfully oblivious of the horrors & impacts of animal farming. When there is an undercover video floating around Youtube or Facebook about Tyson Farms, they turn away, as not to get themselves too upset, as not to have their day ruined by disturbing images, then they trot over to the store and buy themselves a Tyson roast. This is willful ignorance and it is wrong. But blocking out the argument for vegetarianism is an infinitely easier than otherwise. It is a lot easier than living with the knowledge of where hotdogs really come from, what goes into them and the guilt associated with the brutality in which we have participated every time we chowed down on a juicy burger.

fa-factoryfarmpigs-0922117VB_7124067_orig

I don’t need statistics to know that factory farming is wrong, I know it viscerally, I feel it in my gut and and in my bones. If you feel compelled to protect a dog from an abuser, then you shouldn’t partake in the abuse of other, no less valiant or innocent beings. When I was 8, I heard stories of boys torturing frogs, they disturbed me deeply, I remember crying; when I was 10 I saw boys swinging a crab on a string and smashing him into the pavement, I pushed one of them off the dock, before getting punched by his friend (yes boys are the general source of all evil it would seem). It’s not the eating of flesh that disturbs me, it’s the suffering generated and endured in the process.

Meat eaters like to say that it’s a personal choice. Well of course it is, what isn’t a personal choice really? Kicking puppies and punching old ladies would also be personal choices. It being a personal choice doesn’t mean that it’s the right choice, the moral choice or even a choice equally as good as any other. Obviously a choice which in some way supports an industry of abuse is inferior to a choice which does not. At which point do we hold ourselves accountable? Maybe never, but if it’s never, then at least we, as meat eaters, should have some humility, acknowledge this reality versus argue against it.

Meateaters, don’t be flippant towards vegetarianism. I am not judging or perching myself above anyone, there is a broad spectrum of morality and I am not at the top of it at all. But I AM aware of my place on that spectrum, and I don’t wave off those who set an example of doing/being better. I do plenty wrong myself, my couches are leather, my shoes are leather, my car seats are leather, I am aware, I hope I can become a better person with time. Awareness is a necessary first step, if we are ever to make moves towards change, and every little move counts. It is not what it is, we should aspire to better. The platitude does not fit…

Now a quick summation of the annoying, clichéd arguments I hear all the time from the very flippant stupid meateaters who cheerfully accost me asserting that they could just never give up their pepperoni pizza.

1) If I wasn’t meant to eat it, I wouldn’t have canine teeth.

Answer: Most animals have canine teeth, herbivores and carnivores alike, and the most ferocious canine teeth actually belong to herbivores. One of such examples is the hippo, another is the guerilla…the list goes on.

Additionally, we are built for all kinds of violence, our capacity for causing harm has nothing to do with whether or not it is right.

pygmy_hippo_mouth  

2) A chick I knew became a vegetarian, lost all her hair and nearly died.

 Answer: A steak loving guy I knew had a major coronary incident at 38 and nearly died. Oh yea and he had gout. The fact is leading government and public health organizations worldwide agree that humans do not in fact require animal products to maintain optimal health! One can eat poorly and cause harm to their health whatever their dietary culture.

American Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics, the U.S.’s oldest, largest and foremost authority on diet and nutrition, also recognized that humans have no inherent biological or nutritional need for animals products: “It is the position of the American Dietetic Association that appropriately planned vegetarian diets, including total vegetarian or vegan diets, are healthful, nutritionally adequate, and may provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases. Well-planned vegetarian diets are appropriate for individuals during all stages of the life cycle, including pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood, and adolescence, and for athletes.”

vegan-chart

 3) My body craves meat, I am a man, I can’t ignore it.

 Answer: http://www.veganbodybuilding.com.There is a slew of top fitness athletes who partake in the vegan lifestyle, so that’s just nonsense. Vegan protein powders alone would completely eliminate your needs for the consumption of dead flesh. Your body has a habit, so does your mind, which is where the cravings come from, and if you wanted to break the habit you could, just as I am trying to do, not because it is easy or feels natural, but because it’s right.

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In conclusion, there is so much more that gets thrown around to defend the eating of meat, and it might have worked 300 years ago, but in the age of information, science and factory farming it simply doesn’t fly. And it’s all fine really, because regrettably the human race is not ready, just like we weren’t ready to recognize that black people are people and not slaves, objects or property until the 19th century. Just like we didn’t want to know about the Holocaust, allowing it to annihilate nearly 20 million lives of men, women and children, before the world decided to look up and take notice. Just like we thought homosexuals were mentally ill, disturbed, unequal or depraved until 2020. Today, we are still committing so many atrocities against each other, that animals don’t stand a chance…yet. But one day, if we hadn’t blown ourselves up, we’ll look on this age just as we look on the age of slavery or the Holocaust, with shame and horror. I am just trying to get ahead of the shame. 

lisa-vegetarian