What’s the point? Vegetarianism

Cows were once wild animals that roamed free and took care of themselves. Now, many centuries later, the thought of a wild cow is absurd. How could a cow possibly fend for herself? They have become domesticated animals that rely entirely on humans to take care of them. And torture them. And eat them.

So now that these animals are domesticated anyway, we might as well just continue to eat them, right? After all, meat, to a certain extent, is good for us. The problem, however, doesn’t arise from eating meat. Rather, it comes from the way in which we harvest meat and the excess degree to which we consume it.

Most people would be appalled to know how animals are treated on mass-producing factory farms. Chickens are force fed so that they become so fat so fast that they can’t walk, they are debeaked and they are packed into cages so tightly that they can’t even spread their wings. Cows are made to stand in their own feces, pigs are shoved into battery cages and many lambs never leave their crates and see the light of day. This, perhaps, is the most extreme of cases, but is not by any means uncommon.

This treatment of animals also affects the quality of meat that humans consume. That is, the nutrition content of meat is decreased due to the animals’ poor quality of life and the way in which the meat is produced and prepared.

On the other hand, this could also be said for vegan food, as some food considered vegan is also produced in less-than-ethical ways. Vegan food, however, doesn’t inflict direct pain and suffering on living things. It is for this reason – animals have the capacity to suffer – that they should not be treated this way.

Furthermore, the mass production of factory farmed cows produces an excess of methane gas, a chemical compound that is linked to global warming.

In fact, in regards to global warming, methane is 23 times more powerful than carbon dioxide.

It follows that, for these reasons, we ought to minimize our support of factory farms by becoming aware of where our food comes from and eating less meat.

In the words of the animal rights activist Linda McCartney, “If slaughterhouses had glass walls, everyone in the world would be a vegetarian.”
– Laura Sedgwick

As a person concerned with decency and morality, am I obliged to feel guilty every time I sink my teeth into a mouthwatering McDonald’s cheeseburger?

At the most basic level, an animal did have to die solely for the purpose of feeding myself and a handful of other meat-eaters. And, coming from a fast-food restaurant, I can be pretty confident in assuming that this animal in question lived in less-than-humane conditions.

On one hand, there are the hardcore vegan and animal rights crowds that will tell me I am doing something fundamentally wrong by eating any animal at all. They have a right to that opinion.

Convincing these people otherwise is a monumental task, but I would simply contend that it must be either extremely self-righteous or hopelessly tiring to view the vast majority of the population as bad people.

On the other hand, there are moderate vegetarians – they won’t eat meat themselves, but neither will they criticize others for doing so. Many of them simply claim that the way in which our society mass-produces meat products is not only revolting and inhumane, it is detrimental to the environment and to our own health.

I can’t argue with this. Factory farms are bad. I know that they’re bad, yet I tacitly support their existence whenever I buy most meat products.

It is this set of critics that get to me the most. I would have no problem eating meat if it was all organic, farmed free-range and healthy. The animal-killing itself doesn’t bother me much. Eating meat in reasonable quantities has significant nutritional value and is a natural function of our species.

The way I see it, there’s only one way to get around the factory farming issue. Either I can feel guilty every time I eat meat, I can deny myself the pleasure of meat in most of my meals and I can put in a great deal of time and effort to ensure that food consumption meets a high ethical standard or I can stop stressing over it and eat a goddamn cheeseburger.

It may not be a satisfying answer – it may even be lazy and irresponsible – but the truth is that I, like most people, just don’t have the energy to be political every time I get hungry.

I care about ethical treatment of animals like any normal person. I would very much like to see an end to factory farming and a redefinition of the way we produce meat. But, at the end of the day, I’m not going to eat a veggieburger.
– Dave Shore