This column will help answer questions that meat eaters throw at vegetarians in an attempt to make them appear uninformed and irrational and force them to justify or even change their eating style.
Q: In nature, animals kill and eat other animals. So how can it be wrong for people to eat animals too?
A: In nature, animals often eat other animals while they are still alive. Animals sometimes rape each other, steal each other's food and homes and kill each other's children. Do you really base your ethics on what animals do? The animals that we choose to eat are not carnivores anyway. We tend to pick peaceful, gentle domesticated animals like cows, lambs and rabbits to kill for food, partly because they are more easily controlled.
In addition, modern factory farming doesn't just slaughter the animals. It involves their absolute enslavement from birth, the removal of their children at tender young ages and the total denial of each being's physical, social, and psychological needs. They are usually chained up in dark solitary pens in the interest of creating the most meat in the shortest time as cheaply as possible. This lifelong torture, for purposes of profit, culminates in an impersonal assembly-line death handled by machines. The animals are not just simply killed as by predators.
Q: If you give up eating meat, how can you ever get enough protein?
A: Actually most Americans get too much protein in their diet as the human need for protein is much less than most people realize. And excessive animal protein intake can result in serious illnesses as well as overwork the kidneys. Even the US Government dietary guidelines recommend that we eat a diet based on grains, beans, fruits, and vegetables with less emphasis on protein from meat and milk.
What little protein is needed is fulfilled by eating beans, nuts, and soybean products like tofu. Even dairy products are not necessary in a reasonably balanced vegan diet.
Q: If you don't eat meat, fish, or poultry, then you have to kill and eat plants. Isn't that just as bad as killing animals?
The person asking this is not really interested in the welfare of plants. It is a trick question meant to catch you off guard.
A: Plants do not have the complex nervous systems of animals. For that reason, as well as common observation, there is little evidence that plants suffer or experience pain or anxiety. Animals, on the other hand, feel pain every bit as much as human beings and may even suffer more because they don't understand what is happening to them.
If you are truly interested in saving plants, you would still eat vegetarian. To create meat, an animal must consume many times his own weight in plants. It has been estimated that the inefficiencies of meat production are such that each pound of meat results in destruction of at least 10 pounds of plants. Therefore, a human will kill many less plants by eating them directly than by eating animals raised on plants.
Arthur Goldberg owns Veggie Singles Events at http://www.veggiesingles.com
Insert date: 2009-05-16 Last update: 2009-05-16