No, I am not one of those militant vegan fuckers. I am a lacto-ovo-vegetarian. I don't begrudge anyone for eating meat. However, I think it is incredibly important that people think about what they're doing and actively decide they're comfortable with eating meat as opposed to simply doing it by default.

I've never been completely comfortable with meat. It's not a psychotic I-can't-stand-the-suffering-of-the-cute-animals thing. It's just the knowledge that something died so I could eat, but that I don't think I would be able to bring myself to kill it with my own hands unless I absolutely had to. And I don't absolutely have to, so I choose not to indirectly kill it through my diet.

I went to a conference a couple of weeks ago that almost made me ill, but definitely made me proud to be a veggie. The conference included a banquet, for which you had the choice of Prime Rib of Beef, Chicken Wellington, or Pasta Primavera. Relatively standard fare, but the kicker came when everybody got their meal tickets. People eating beef got little red tags with pictures of happy smiling cartoon cows, peacefully grazing in open pastures. People eating chicken got little yellow tags with happy smiling cartoon chickens just being hatched from their nice warm eggs. People eating pasta got green cards with vegetables, but that's beside the point. I personally thought the happy smiling creatures were a little bit sick, but I only really got disturbed when people started talking about how they completely and totally dissociate the animal from the food. That kind of admission is the only thing I see wrong with meat eating. Dissociating the animal from the food is a failure, and it's a cop-out.

In the end, I think it'd be amusing if people who eat meat were asked for their reasons even nearly as often as people who don't. And I wonder what most of them would say.

The rationale here seems to be that if you should never do something that is personally distasteful, but which you would be willing to pay someone else to do. While I have nothing against a vegetarian lifestyle, I must take issue with this premise. I hate folding my laundry. I really hate it. I could easily pay someone to fold my laundry for me, but I don't see where this is a moral cop-out. You could, of course, say that I must wind up folding my laundry anyway, so I can't possibly use that as a valid argument. OK--think of all the things you do during the course of a day that require the efforts of a third party and you'll find that almost everything you do is built on the labor of others. I could easily say that you should stay away from produce because some of it may be harvested by maltreated migrant workers. I'm more than happy to pay people to toil in the fields so I can have my can of beets, and I hope that my state's Congressional representation looks after the farmers (and if not I know what to do about that).

And before you ask, I will say that, yes, I have eaten animals that I've killed. Well, more specifically I've eaten chicken that I've gutted (you gotta watch out not to slice open the gall bladder when you open the chest, otherwise things get all green), and I once had pork from a roast pig on a spit that I helped my uncle clean. And it was really, really good. A tip to those meat-eaters out there: roast pig, after spending hours rotating above a heat source, is a treat that should not be missed. Bring beer.

Does all this count? And I can say that, having done this, I would not prefer to do it again, and am happy to pay someone else to get their hands sticky.

It was about a month ago that I came about with my final, end-all reason that I eat meat...

I'm an arrogant (as well as insensitive) SOB. That's right, I'm a human being, as a race we've out-smarted every critter on the planet so I'll be damned if I'm not going to bite into the side of some inferior animal. I'm the top of the food chain and I feel it's my responsibility to act that way. Hey! we're even smart enough that we've made it so that we don't even have to hunt anymore! Add to that the fact that most of our livestock animals have had most of their survival instincts bread out of them hundreds of years ago if a human operated meat packing facility didn't end the life of that cow with a steel bolt through it's head, it would probably be ripped apart still kicking by wild dogs (or some other such predator), and I'll be damned if some wild dogs are going to bogart my strip steak!

I'm arrogant, I eat meat because I like the way it tastes and because I can. It feels nice at the top. P.E.T.A. and other such organizations can go suck on a sogy lump of tofu if they think I'm going to let a lion or wolf eat better than I do. I mean what's the primary attribute of a cow?: It's Tasty!.

The advent of aquaculture and further scientific advancements in agricultural areas are making it possible for us to eat and live better than our ancestors ever had. I say dig in!
Rook, I think the point is not that one must personally slaughter and butcher the animals you eat, but you should be morally capable of it. If I am willing to eat a cow, I should be willing to kill it myself. That doesn't mean I have to - at this point in history most people are urban specialists, and the infrastructure for personal butchery of animals would be incredibly unwieldy, not to mention ineffecient due to wasted time - but that I could. The moral copout lies in being perfectly able to eat the meat while being unable to procure it for yourself and therefore paying others to do work you consider morally wrong in some way. It's not a viewpoint I accept, but it's one I can appreciate. I have gutted and filetted fish, but I would be morally able to kill a cow for my hamburger. For me, the important thing about eating meat or even plants is respect - the understanding that something gave its life for my nutrition, just as eventually my flesh will die and feed other things. As long as people realize the price of life, I have no problem with them eating anything.

While this is really a minor point in the United States and most of Western Civilization, the hypocrisy longwinter mentions is actually a serious religious problem in several nations. In Tibet, the butchers are almost unanimously Muslim, although they provide meat for the entire population. The Buddhist priests allow this because the Muslims are heretics who will be devoured in flames, so the state of their soul hardly matters. The not dissimilar examples of Indian dalits and Japanese burakamin shows the problems with condemning others while profiting from their work. There was an excellent science fiction story written along these lines, where the engineer in charge of sewage and waste disposal for a space station was held apart from society. For a more Western example, imagine the surgeon, the abortionist and the executioner. I wonder how many people who approve of their work would do it themselves, assuming they had sufficient knowledge, or even invite them in for dinner.

We're omnivores, we can eat meat or anything else for that matter, the morality of eating meat doesn't really come into it. If I need to kill another living thing in order to survive, I will. I have done so in the past, being a muslim, I got taken to a farm when I was 16 and asked by my father whether I would like to kill the lamb I was going to eat for dinner. I hesitated, thinking it through, and then I prayed for it's soul to enter heaven, as I am supposed to do, and then I killed it in the most painless way possible. I will admit that it was a strange feeling, but I must also say that it felt totally natural. I watched the blood spill away, and then got to the task of skinning and gutting the animal. Afterwards, I even helped chop up the meat and we took it home and put it in the freezer. The lamb dinner that night tasted more intense, but no worse for that. At least I know now that I can kill an animal for food if it comes to it.

But to be forced to ask yourself why you eat meat? Isn't that a bit, well silly? It's like one of those political games that people play with each other to make us all feel a bit more guilty about being human. After all, we have been killing animals for meat for millenia, long before we started farming. The violence, and the genetic make up is within us. Don't get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with variety in your diet, and I will readily admit to having a largely vegetarian one, but I don't feel it is appropriate to ask me why I choose to eat meat. I just do. It is part of who and what I am as a person, and a human. As a muslim, I don't really have the crisis of conscience that most people are forced into by longwinter's assertion, because we have rather strict dietary laws, and also codes of conduct when dealing with other living things, and especially tight ones for the welfare of the animals that are to be killed for food. It saves me from a lot of heart ache.

Still, even if I wasn't a muslim, and I met longwinter at that so called banquet and he (or she) leaned over to me and said:

"So, why do you eat meat, Jaez?"

I would answer (after properly chewing my food of course...)

"Same reason I eat anything, nutrition longwinter... now be a dear and pass the apple sauce."

I don’t eat meat at this time in my life because I don’t like the taste, plain and simple, and the last time I ate meat inspired my first ever bulimic inclination. Eating meat makes me feel guilty, I don’t know why but what is the point of figuring it out, I ask you? Let’s face it, the world will be a better place if I do not eat meat. Let me list the reasons, but let me also tell you these are not my reasons for being a vegetarian (I don’t even consider myself by any word), they just reinforce my choices should they ever be confronted.
  • I personally can’t handle the idea that a living creature could suddenly be slaughtered, and yet I walk about gleefully and ignorantly, and then sit down and have a lovely dinner where I might mention something as inconsequential as Angelina Jolie’s latest tattoo, chewing on my little pieces of dead thing. I have tried to like protein foods, I swear. But the very texture makes me want to throw up. For a while, as I was younger, I wanted to try fish but could never quite get my head around how I could explain the ethics of that one. Voila, a little hippie girl made a speech in English class about how fish aren’t specifically reared and bred in little pens to be eaten; they are just swimming around, it is random, and if we didn’t eat it, a shark would. That was enough justification for me. But I don’t like the taste anyway. And for those who say that if I don’t like the idea of killing anything, why do I eat plants? I have thought if this one. I don’t want to I feel bad even about eating plants. Although we all seem to do a good job pretending anything that doesn’t move or show its pain, isn’t a live. Id love to live solely on fruit (and no, you do not have to kill anything to eat fruit, in fact you are doing the plant a favour).
  • I don’t like the idea of contributing to the problem of overconsumption. It is true that I am not doing much about world poverty, but I am very glad I am not (quite selfishly) chowing down to my little slab of meat, knowing how many tonnes of grain were fed in a cows lifetime to produce a few family’s with a little carnivorous joy. That grain could solve world hunger.
  • I don’t want to add further disease and yukky things to the earth. The idea of an abbatoir freaks me out. The idea of tall smoky industrial buildings kills me. I long for a planet where everybody looks after each and every square of the soil.. where we make sure nothing is uncared for, nothing is ugly or festering or dangerous. On this earth, everything’s okay if we don’t have to see it everyday.
  • lastly, I know it is not good for me. There might be a whole lot of you predisposed fuckers out there who will tell me it is essential to a healthy diet, and all, that bullsh!t, but I say, fuck off. What evidence is there that vegetarians live a shorter, or less healthy life because of their absence of meat’s godly nutrients? This is just another one of those cases where the typical, non thinking humans that society pumps out, decide to make their choices feel better by attacking people who choose to think with their non substantiated views. “Meat is good for you”, says who? The same man who says this will probably die of cancer or something tomorrow.
    Okay, now I am being just as defensive. The point is, I just don’t want to. And what’s healthy for one person might not be healthy for another. If you have ever heard of the Blood Type Diet, apparently people of different blood are supposed to have varied diets.. for example people with Type A blood descend from primarily farmer types, and are therefore better off, genetically, subsisting on a vegetarian diet.
    The people who say there are certain nutrients in meat you cannot get anywhere else piss me off. Yes this might be true, but we also may not need these nutrients. The tendency of society to spread disinformation also means that we sometimes miss the point when coming to decide how healthful a food is. For instance, milk. “It has a lot of calcium”. Yes it does, but this does not make milk good for us. In fact, it is downright terrible. Allow me to deviate now, as I tend to do, to prove my point:
    The Orientals and Africans knew this; they have traditionally avoided milk (except as a purgative). All we have to do is look at nature to see why; I mean we see that the young feed exclusively on milk until weaned away from it with other foods. The natural disappearance of lactase (the milk-digesting enzyme) from the human system upon reaching maturity proves that adult humans have no more nutritional need for milk than adult tigers or chimpanzees. In fact, what happens is that milk curdles immediately upon entering the stomach, so if if I may get all technical here, there is other food present the curds coagulate around other food particles and insulate them from exposure to gastric juices, delaying digestion long enough to permit the onset of putrefaction. Today, milk is made even more indigestible by the universal practice of pasteurization, which destroys its natural enzymes and alters its delicate proteins. If any of this is insufficient proof of the ill effects of pasteurized milk, take note of the fact even that newborn calves fed on pasteurized milk taken from their own mother cows usually die within six months, a fact which the commercial dairy industry is loathe to admit. Women worried about osteoporosis should take note of these facts about pasteurized milk products. That such denatured milk does not deliver sufficient calcium to prevent this condition is abundantly evident from the fact that American women, who consume great quantities of pasteurized milk products, suffer the world's highest incidence of osteoporosis. Raw cabbage, for example, supplies far more assimilable calcium than any quantity of pasteurized milk, yoghurt, cottage cheese, or any other denatured dairy product. It is found that to prevent osteoporosis we should really be looking toward the element boron. Where is this found? In fresh fruits and vegetables, especially apples, pears, grapes, nuts, cabbage, and other leafy vegetables, where we also find calcium. Nature has already provided abundant sources of all the vital nutrients we need in synergeticc form, but man insists upon cooking and processing them to death.
    Basically, if a baby stops needing milk from its mother, what then brings us to think, oh, not only will we keep feeding it milk, we will start feeding it milk from another species? I’d love to have been around to see how the first cow milk drinker justified that.
    The point of my milk rant was to show you how ill informed our society really is when it comes to health, and the way in which people can be carried away with how many ‘nutrients’ are in something, just to justify eating it, without even giving notice to the damage it might actually too. Meat for example (since this is the topic of the node) is considered healthy.. why exactly? I have forgotten. Iron? Okay. So it has lots of iron. And protein. It is also pervasively contaminated with antibiotics and steroid hormones. About 40% of all the antibiotics produced in the USA are fed to cattle and other livestock, and this is passed on the consumer in every hamburger, steak, and other food products made with US beef. This daily dietary intake of antibiotics depresses the human immune system and is an important contributing factor in Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome. US cattle are also fed synthetic hormones to accelerate growth, increase fat deposits, bring entire herds of cows into heat at the same time for breeding, increase milk production, and induce abortions in pregnant cows scheduled for slaughter. These hormones are suspected as a major cause of the high incidence of breast and ovarian cancer in American women, as well as premature puberty in American children. Since steroid hormone's cause cattle to grow fat fast, it also stands to reason that they cause obesity in humans who consume the meat and milk of such contaminated animals. US cattle also absorb all the herbicides, pesticides, and chemical fertilizers used to grow the feed crops on which they are forced to gorge, and a high percentage of these hapless creatures arrive at the slaughterhouse riddled with cancerous tumors and tuberculosis. All this poison is passed directly on to the consumer, so if you like to eat beef, be sure it has been organically raised without drugs and hormones, and preferably range-fed than pen-fed.

So we can now see how meat is actually probably a pretty bad choice of food. Of course, so is basically everything else and yet we are all still eating so..

Whenever we debate things like this there is always going to be a large degree of hypocrisy on both sides, although some cannot help it because of the world we were actually born into. I mean, make it possible for me to eat nothing but fresh organic fruits for the rest of my life and I goddamn will :) Until then I am force to eat things I deem less than healthful. But by god I will eat as healthy as I can. Of course, this coming from me is blatant hypocrisy.. I am worried about my health and yet I have a variety of health problems, and I have depression and I do silly things like starve too much or binge too much or cut my arm or something. I don’t like to kill things but I will eat plants. I don’t like taking any food from an animal but I occasionally eat dairy. I don’t even want to eat dairy. I even consciously go against what I want. I don’t like overconsumption and yet I waste water, use too much paper, buy too many things, etc. We’re all terrible really.
Give me time, I say :)
After all this thinking it is clear that its all confusing and hypocritical but I maintain that we must make choices about these things, we must be informed. It is simply not good enough for intelligent human beings to let ourselves be ignorant to these things, and yet still fore opinions in others faces. I don’t give a f*ck who eats meat. I’d love very much for a world where no one ate it but I wont go around telling everybody. It appears that some meat eaters hate vegans (arguments from other nodes) plainly because they don’t like the feeling that somebody is making their choices seem wrong, don’t like the feeling that someone else, some group of people are rising up and claiming their superiority simply through a, what they consider to be, better diet. Yet it still does not justify some harsh treatment. Yes there are miltant vegan pigfuckers. Whats the point in being militant back? No one else’s opinion on this matters. Diet is a personal thing, I merely think we each need to be informed (not preached to) and make the correct decision for ourselves. A decision, not a habit.

Note to Jaez:
I don’t feel that asking yourself why you want to eat meat is a question which should make us all feel a bit more guilty about being human. I mean, if you choose to eat meat, stand behind it, we all have priorities. But not thinking something over for fear of feeling guilt is kind of irresponsible, or at least ignorant. Don’t you want to know what you really think? After all this type of thing does affect the entire world, and even if one out of two people decided, you know what, I don’t want to eat meat (or so much meat) anymore, a lot would change. I had an argument once where someone said “Humans are the most intelligent species so we are higher up on the food chain”. Yes we are, apparently. But we should use our intelligence intelligently, yes no? Nobody, nobody can deny that
(a) we do not need animal flesh, we simply want it, and if we needed to, we could live without it.
and (b) the world would be lovelier if we did not eat it. In many ways.
So if some of us would make a more global choice rather than individual, the earth could go a long way.Somewhere along the line we shall have to start thinking in a less selfish manner. I admit that a number of things I do are as selfish as the rest of you, but I will try where I can to see that this is not the case. I want our world to be dazzling, not dystopic :)
These are choices we can all make, and can all be conscious of. That’s why I think its important.


the facts I have included in this writeup are derived from hps-online.com (Helping People Survive Online), Daniel Reed’s book “The Tao of Health Sex & Longevity” and my own divine memory. This is a long wu, forgive me, kind soldiers.

/me closes eyes, holds breath and dives into the swamp of a highly opinionated-type node...

Just the facts, ma'am.

Vegetarianism is not NECESSARILY environmentally friendly

Yes, McEvils cut down rainforests for cattle pastures. Yes, abbatoirs and processing plants can spew out some heftily toxic effluents.

The fact, however, is that agriculture is the single biggest cause of environmental degradation in Australia.

It's worse than mining

It's worse than grazing

Sorry kids

Hell, I didn't want to believe it. Surely evil, capitalist bastard mining companies do far, far more damage than kindly farmers who bring us healthy, leafy veggies? Surely those acres of vibrant green sugarcane are much friendlier to the soil than smelly great cows roaming about a dusty pasture?

Nope.

Growing food crops, particularly in a country like Australia (not exactly famed for it's rolling grasslands and nutrient-rich soil) has a scary list of side effects:

Salinity problems
Acid sulfate soil exposure
Nutrient stripping
Heavy metal contamination from fertilisers and organic soil amendments
Algal blooms in rivers from nutrient runoff
Pesticide and herbicide contamination of soil, water and air
... shall I go on?
Goddamn, now I've got to node half this stuff...
Even organic farming causes nasties, as a great many organic amendments (used instead of commercial fertilisers) are over-used, and often contain high heavy metal concentrations.

This does not mean that grazing has no negative impacts. It does not mean that in some parts of the world, the soil cannot easily support intensive cropping for the next 500 years. This is, however, the case in most of Australia.

Personally, I couldn't care less what people decide to eat. I'd just like them to make their choices with all the facts on hand.

Note to Australians: If we really wanted to make the best use of our country's resources, not to mention caring for our health, we'd be chowing down on roo at most meals. Australian kangaroo populations are out of control and require culling, but in their wisdom certain environmental groups who should have known better lobbied to stop large supermarket chains from selling meat from the cute little critters.

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