The Path of the (Quasi) Vegetarian
The concept of vegetarianism has always appealed to me. Like many to-do items, I have procrastinated, but it is now clear that (Quasi) vegetarianism makes sense on three massive fronts: Personal Health, Environmental Degradation and Morality. The word “quasi” is not used as an escape root, but rather a warning. In my attempt to move towards a flesh (all animals – including fish) free diet, the most challenging thing has been the inconvience of it all. When you are at friends, a French restaurant or a seaside town – the options are limited. Even the Dalai Lama (Buddhists are vegetarians though not vegans) admits that when offered meat he accepts to avoid waste, I agree.
I try not to preach an evangelical vegetarianism, where I scorn carnivores, but rather to educate people around me to the potential benefits. Just as I think smoking is bad for you, it seems meat consumption is also detrimental to your physical, mental and moral health.
People must make their own decisions, but the corporations who control and mass market food have activly deceived the public with regards to the personal and societal costs of eating a meat rich diet. Below are a few ideas on why we should avoid (too much) meat.
It is very, very, very, established that eating red meat and other meat in excess is bad for you. Notice how young girls and boys are hitting puberty earlier? Scientists agree that it’s linked to the hormone injected chicken nuggets in their happy meal. Need I cite heart attack rates in the West? The list is long and deep, but eat more fruits, vegetables, and a little organic meat and you will live longer and better – guaranteed.
A solid TED Talk on the general reason for eating less meat – by a well-known chef.
If we assume that everyone is in agreement on the current situation: global warming, the non-sustainable exploitation of resources and the rising cost of food, then we can also agree that too much meat is being grown and consumed. The UN warns that the oceans’ will hold little more than jellyfish by 2050. Chew on that!
Here is a very scary report on the largest porc producer in the United States. Another interesting article on the rising cost of meat from the International Herald Tribune and another one on the discrepancy between your government sanctioned diet and farm subsidies.
Meat is a tremendously inefficient way of getting protein: imagine everyone showering in Evian water, hunting polar bears and driving hummers. Not the best use of resources you say?
This one is probably the toughest sell. But ask yourself this: do you regularly kill, clean and cook an animal? If so, you are in the very small minority of the developed world.
I think everyone can agree that factory farming is wrong. Therefore, eating meat from a factory farm is wrong, yes? Vegetarianism is a form of protest against the exploitation of animals (see great article here).
Religion, the moral compass for many, is fairly clear on this issue. The ten commandments (Islam, Judaism, and Christianity) state, “Thou Shall not Kill” – it does not say “Thou Shall not Kill Humans”, it says “Thou Shall not Kill”. Buddhism is even clearer and preaches not harming sentient beings. We should do as little harm as possible to others implying leaving our fellow animals to their pastures.
If only schoolchildren were taken on a hunt. Buying chicken breasts at the supermarket is not the same thing as taking a live chicken in your hands, ringing it’s neck, and turning it into dinner. I have nothing against hunters, in fact I support them, they are often ardent conservationists and have a great respect for nature.
If we all touched the source of our food – perhaps we would choose a different way.