It's de rigeur
for certain personality types to go full contrarian
when hearing about alternate lifestyles
. Religion and sexuality are no longer fair game in most circles, but diet... well, that's good pickins'.
While I hear exactly the same comments as TheAnglican, I have a somewhat different set of responses. Mostly, to be honest, I just nod and agree that yes-you-are-clearly-superior-to-me-thank-you-for-pointing-that-out, because I do not have the patience to talk to most people about most things, and most especially things like their lunch. But if someone is generally interested and willing to learn, but for lack of previous thought on the subject they start to spout the classics, here's what I tell them.
But what if you were on a desert island and only had animals to eat? If I found myself on a desert island, I would try to eat plants first. If that did not work, I would eat animals. If that did not work, I would eat you. This is an established policy, and there is no point in lobbying against it.
See these canines? Meat. Well, no. But you do have a point that humans hands, posture and digestive system are totally evolved over the course of millions of years for getting and eating meat. However, while you were knapping stone flints, my ancestors have cunningly spent the last 10,000 years building a global agricultural complex based on GMOs. Have fun with your bow and spear.
But we've been eating animals for thousands of years! Yes. Cars, antibiotics, veganism, and computers are new. Avoid these at all costs.
But I read somewhere plants feel pain too! If you are suggesting a salt-and-oxygen based diet, please try it out for a year and get back to me. I am very interested.
But I'm an apex predator/head of the food chain! Cool. But it turns out that that's totally optional, so I'm not.
If we didn't eat all those animals, they would die anyway. Yes, but without forced breeding programs the next generation would not be born, and fewer animals would be killed in the future. Do you really feel strongly that cow #89,334,567,765 is very important, and must be born no matter what the delicious, delicious cost?
Where do you get your Vitamin B12 from? Actually, I almost never hear this question. But if you are interested, I take B12 pills to make up the difference, which I have not found to be a great burden.
What about all the worms and bugs killed by farming for vegetables? This is very sad. If you can provide pesticide-free veggies, it happens that there is a big market for that. In the meantime, I am not going to starve over a bug. Please refer to my desert island policy.
God wants us to eat meat, and gave us dominion over the animals. Your god is a piece of crap that thinks having dominion over something gives you permission to kill it for pleasure. I am much better than your god. (Warning, this almost never convinces anyone).
If people stopped eating meat, lots of people in developing countries would starve.
Those people should not stop eating meat.
If people stop buying meat, the economy would take a massive hit. Don't worry, no one, not even I, has the power to turn the world vegan overnight. The markets will slowly adjust, just as they did when horses became passé, the telegraph industry collapsed, icemen were replaced with refrigerators, milkmen were replaced with... also refrigerators, and countries full of cottage laborers were replaced with roving luddites. Yes, the world will be a terrible place, but with less pollution, more forests, and fewer nasty films about chickens being mutilated. I think we'll manage.