For all of you who ask me: “Why are you a vegetarian?”, here are the reasons:
Eating animals is cruel
First, the way animals are raised and slaughtered is absolutely horrifying, and enough videos like the one below have done the rounds that by now everyone should be aware of this:
Of course, the situation is at its worst in the USA. In Switzerland, animals are probably more humanly raised and slaughtered. However, industrial farming is by definition cruel to the animals, because it treats them as products that have to be manufactured at the lowest cost possible.
That reason should be enough in itself.
Eating animals hurts the environment
Here is the damage to the environment eating animals causes:
Animal agriculture makes a 40% greater contribution to global warming than all transportation in the world combined; it is the number one cause of climate change. J.S. Foer, Eating Animals.
For those who don’t believe in global warming, there is the even larger short term threat of fresh water shortage– it is one of the biggest historic and probable future causes of conflict. This is happening already; it’s not a fringe theory. What does that have to do with being vegetarian? Simple. Around 15,000 litres of water is used producing a kilo of beef. Chicken is a lot better at around 4000 litres per kg… or at least better for meat. High protein soybeans see a drop down to 1800L/kg while the potato uses only 900L/kg. So being a vegetarian means having a much smaller water footprint… therefore a reduced likelyhood of conflict. More details here.
Eating animals is unfair
The injustice of food shortages can’t be ignored. Rich people eat meat that was fed grain that could have instead fed ten times as many poor people. With every step through the food chain, a huge amount of ‘food energy’ is lost in meat production… energy that could have gone to feeding humans. Hardly fair.
Eating animals is unhealthy
Finally, it is also healthier to be a vegetarian. What Wikipedia says:
Vegetarians tend to have lower body mass index, lower levels of cholesterol, lower blood pressure, and less incidence of heart disease, hypertension, type 2 diabetes, renal disease, osteoporosis, dementias such as Alzheimer’s disease and other disorders.
One typical question is: “Where else do you get the proteins?” Well, that has also already been said, but you can find proteins in countless food like cereals, beans, tofu, quorn, seitan, nuts, seeds, dairy product and more. Well cooked, this food is, to my taste, delicious, while definitely healthier than meat. And don’t get me started on all the antibiotics, hormones, and shit that animals are fed.
I am not talking about vague ethical or philosophical reasons here, but raw facts that one cannot pretend to ignore anymore.
Eating is not only about taste and tradition
Of course, there are all the other reasons why we eat meat, and why I occasionally do. As I said, I am trying.
The main reason why I am occasionally attracted to eat meat is its taste. I like it. It would definitely be easier if I was disgusted by it. However, even if a cat was the most delicious food on earth, I would probably restrain from eating it. It is a question of costs/benefits kind of analysis. On one side, it tastes good, and I want to eat it. On the other side, an animal was probably tortured for the sake of my pleasure, the environment was damaged, and it is bad for my body; the choice seems easy. The same reasoning leads me to avoid smoking, or drinking too much. Of course it is good, and it feels good to do so, but is it really worth it?
The other reason is tradition. Turkey for Christmas, roasted meat on the Sunday family gathering, sausages for summer barbecues… not only does it taste good, it also gives a warm feeling of being part of a group, a family, a religion at times, and society in general. So sometimes, I don’t feel like being the annoying one to eat something else or to ask for another meal: the pressure is too strong.
Should it be so? Last Christmas, I asked my mom if we could try to have a vegetarian dinner. She agreed and we ended up having a great time. We actually felt less heavy than usual at the end of the meal, and nobody complained about it. Traditions can evolve, and I feel that our generation has a duty to adapt them to our contemporary lifestyle.
My goal here is not to turn everybody into a vegetarian, but I do hope that eating animals becomes a conscious decision.
Next: a year later, I have to admit that I failed at being a vegetarian.