What's the point of being vegetarian?

I figured that this belonged either here or in the Pit, but since it’s not really an attack on anymore (at least I hope it’s not perceived that way :smack: ), I suppose this is the best place to debate the matter.

This question is not aimed at people who are vegetarians for health and dietary reasons; it is aimed at those who are vegetarians because they are against animal cruelty. My question is; what’s the point? Yes, the manner in which cattle are slaughtered is horrible, but personally boycotting the act will not result in any fewer cattle being slaughtered each day.

If I was told that by staying clear of beef, I could prevent poor calves from being made into veal, I would consider it. But the thought that every person in the world would one day come together and say “we don’t want anymore meat” is completely illogical.

If anything, aren’t you just causing the animals’ deaths to be meaningless, seeing as how instead of all the meat being consumed (thus the death actually serving a purpose) more of it will just go to waste?

So, seeing as how protesting won’t really do any good, and beef and pork products are oh so delicious (don’t try to deny your carnivorous instincts :wink: ), why not just grab your fork and dig in? :smiley:

attack on anyONE. :smack:

If you think something is wrong, not doing it is a perfectly good end in itself.

So if I murdered you tomorrow and then ate you, your death wouldn’t be as much of a waste? [I’m not equating human and animal killing here, I’m just asking.] That doesn’t make any sense. Whether the animal is eaten or not isn’t relevant.

I never have and never will protest people who eat meat.

I don’t want to, and at this point I find the thought kind of gross.

This is pretty weak logic. “If you think something is wrong, but you can’t stop other people from doing it, why don’t you just do it too?”

I think killing a PERSON and eating them is a whole other discussion. We can talk cannabalism another time. As for eating meat, my teeth are enough proof that humans are evolved (as are all other carnivores/omnivores) to do so. Nay, we need to. Our bodies only produce a certain number of amino acids on their own. The only way to get the ones we lack is to intact protein from other animals (I’m sorry, but soy is not a sufficient substitute for my tastebuds :smiley: ).

And I’m having a really hard time getting my thoughts out tonight.


This is a really tired discussion, and, sorry to say, Soapbox Monkey, you’re not exactly bringing anything new to the discussion. Next, I’ll expect you to say that “Plants have feelings too!” (Like we haven’t heard that one a million times before. :rolleyes: )

Why do some of us become vegetarians? Because we want to. Do many of us not miss the meat? Yes, many. Including me.

In fact, becoming vegetarian was the best answer for me. I became more and more picky and found more types of meat (and different preparations of it) disgusting. It was too pink! It was too tough! It was too greasy! It got to the point where I could have only eaten tuna, Kentucky Fried Chicken and perhaps hot dogs. The rest of the time, I was looking for ways to beg off eating really disgusting stuff that I was “expected” to eat (when dining at a friend’s house, etc.). And one day I decided that if I gave up meat, I’d be off the hook and never would have to eat something icky and too pink or too greasy again.

It’s been so worth it. And yes, it’s nice to know that I’m not eating the muscle of an animal. Doesn’t mean that my consumption doesn’t still cause animal death, but this way, it’s a little less. That ain’t bad.

And it’s also nobody else’s business. I don’t want to preach, I don’t want to convert, I just want to eat my veggies in peace. But I so often hear people tell me how “You’ve gotta eat meat!” And, “But meat tastes so good! How can you deny yourself?” And so forth and so on.

Frankly, I believe that many people are defensive. I’m not sure of why all the time, but some of them may feel guilty, (just some), some may feel that my not eating meat in their presence means somehow that I’m “judging” them (I think this is the reasoning for many), or whatever. I don’t care what their reasons are, I just want them to shut their yaps about it.

If 15 per cent of a population swear off meat, then, by the laws of supply and demand, will it not result in 15 per cent less cattle slaughtered?

Would it? If supply and demand dropped 15%- a long term drop, not just a temporary one - do you think that farmers would just keep on caring for the same number of animals? Fewer would be breed in the long run, of course, but until that balance was reached I think that there would be a number of animals slaughtered not for meat, but to avoid having to pay for their upkeep. To me that seems worse than killing them for food, but then I’m a meat-eater who is against hunting/making clothes from animals that aren’t eaten, so my POV is probably very different from a vegetarian’s.

SM: but personally boycotting the act will not result in any fewer cattle being slaughtered each day

Sure. But when a lot of individuals join the boycott, as marky says, it will make a difference. Over the past few decades, vegetarianism has significantly increased in the US:

Over the same time period, beef consumption decreased significantly:

Of course, consumption of other forms of animal foods such as chicken and fish went up during this time, so obviously the correlation isn’t completely causal. But I think it’s self-evident that the personal decisions of large numbers of vegetarian individuals can and do affect the aggregate demand for meat.

And although I’m not a vegetarian myself, I completely agree with y-babe that these stupid attempts to taunt vegetarians with the alleged instinctive allure of meat are one of the most idiotic and annoying forms of “nutritional harassment” ever seen. "Oooh baby, c’mon, you know you want it! Yummy meat, honey, you gotta love this meat, everybody loves this meat! C’mon babe, it’s irresistible, don’t fight it, you want it! :smiley: " Meanwhile, the victim is thinking “Oh God, can’t this asshole just go away?”

Nothing makes you look more like a loser than trying to convince people they really want something they’ve already decided they don’t want.

Gee, I didn’t think of that. Where’s the steak? (I’m sorry, yosemite is right.) Obviously we’ve evolved to be omnivorous, so you can eat meat. Tell me how this relates to the fact that you should (much less need to) and we’ll be set.

I didn’t know I was malnourished. Because, you know, I’m not, and I’ve been a vegetarian for a little more than three years. I have a friend who was raised a vegetarian, so he’s never eaten meat (he’s 20 or 21). I’m not a doctor - but hey, that didn’t stop you from making your pronouncements - but he’s doing fine. There are plenty of vegetarians who are much more on the ball than I am regarding getting all their vitamins and minerals from a vegetarian diet. And compared to some I’m not even that strict a vegetarian, since I eat dairy. But my health is fine.

What do your tastebuds have to do with anything? A minute ago you were talking about protein and health. Now you’re admitting we’re only talking about your tastebuds - which I don’t give a crap about, and neither do most other people.

Since the hamsters ate my post, I’m going to post a shorter version :
1)Your line of reasonning is basically “If I don’t do it, someone else will, so why bother”, which I deeply dislike. You could use the same reasonning for cheating on your taxes, speeding on the road, torturing prisonners, or whatever else. For instance, let’s assume your friends want to engage in a gang rape. You disagree, but they’re going to do it anyway. So, you could as well say “since she’s going to be raped anyway, I could as well have some fun too”.

2)Assuming that if you don’t eat meat, the animal will be nevertheless slaughtered and the meat wasted : still, by not eating meat, you refuse to engage in / be responsible for an action you find morally unnacceptable. If you do accept to participate, it means that either you don’t really think it’s moraly wrong, either that you don’t care about acting morally

3)I disagree with your idea that not eating meat has no impact. A significant number of people are vegetarian. It certainly has an impact on the meat market. Either less meat is produced, either the price of meat drop and someone else eat the meat. In any case, the meat isn’t wasted, and you’d have to show that what happens is the second option (lower prices) which applies to prove that as many animals are slaughtered anyway.

4)You think that there’s no way people will stop eating meat. I wouldn’t be so sure of this. Vegeterianism is now quite widespread, which shows that the message of vegetarians is being heard. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if, in the long run, a majority of people would find that eating meat is gross and cruel. One should be very cautious when using words like “never”.
And by the way, I’m not a vegetarian by any stretch of the imagination, and have no moral qualm with veals being slaughtered so that I can eat their meat (the only issue I could actually have is related to the high consumption of ressources and water required to raise these animals). It’s only with your reasonning that I’ve an issue.

One thing I’ve always found somewhat ironic about those vegetarians who do not eat meat because they believe it is cruel to animals to be slaughtered for food is that they totally ignore the fact that modern vegetable farming involves very large machines that will most definitely kill any small animals in the way of them.

Unless we all do subsistence farming, there’s really no way to avoid using these giant machines on big farms and killing animals in order to grow vegetables.

I’m missing the irony. It’s unfortunate, but I don’t see how it’s avoidable. And even if the farming equipment is killing small animals, more vegetarians would still result in the death of fewer animals in the long run.

You don’t miss the irony in a self-righteous vegetarian who claims that their choice to be vegetarian means the animals don’t have to suffer, that they’re not responsible for the death of animals benefitting from a farming system in which many, many animals are torn limb from limb by combines and plows?

Course, they don’t really have many other options except to die when their habitats keep getting cut down.

Instead of being wasteful and letting bodies rot in the fields, I’ll keep supporting the slaughter of animals that will not be wasted.

No. Partly because I actually know what irony means, and partly because people need to eat vegetables anyway, so the “responsible for the death of animals” bit doesn’t make sense to me. If you can prove to me that more animals are killed on the balance not just by farming equipment but by the increase in farming equipment used due to the decisions of vegetarians, we might have something. But I tend to doubt that.

Also, you didn’t think to mention all the bacteria that are being killed. :rolleyes:

I was a (non-proselytizing) vegetarian for ten years, and one of the reasons I stopped was I saw the futility of the whole pursuit-of-absolute-purity thing. At the time I was working on an organic farm, and knowing that most organic farms fertilize with manure, blood meal, and bone meal – much of it by-products of the meat industry – made the whole thing much more complicated in my mind. Keep in mind also for you dairy eaters that something is happening to the half of each generation of dairy animals that are born male, and it’s generally not “run around in pastures and die of old age.”

But whether it’s a result of mellowing with age, or just getting some distance from new-convert zeal, I find that most of my long-time vegetarian friends no longer get on their high (tofu) horses about how few animals their lifestyle kills versus mine. There are always exceptions, but I find that most mature people are not that interested in what others eat. Or have grown the sensitivity to keep quiet about it. It’s easy to characterize all vegetarians as ridiculous by pointing to the extreme examples, but it’s like trying to characterize everyone who’s Christian by pointing to Jimmy Swaggart and saying, “Look how silly.”

As far as the OP goes, if you refuse to throw garbage out of your car window, you can’t expect to notice any difference on your local highways in a week or a year. I wouldn’t take that as a sign that it’s pefectly fine to throw trash out your car window. Or that by not devoting your life to keeping other people from doing so, you’re somehow being hypocrticial and not doing enough to fix a problem. You could play this game with just about any moral decision you choose to make: you’re polluting by driving a car, you’re still contibuting to pollution by taking the bus, an electric car is still made by a plant that pollutes, the highway infrastructure causes toxic runoff and destroys habitat, x number of people die every year maintaining the electrical grid, etc. In my mind, tempting through it may be, you can’t view this stuff in the Manichaean world of sin or purity and nothing in between. It’s all gray, and you do what you can.

When it comes to woodchucks under the combine, it’s hard for me to see what the option would be, besides starving to death, or an extreme Jainistlife style where you’re only eating fruit that’s fallen off trees and wearing a veil so you don’t breathe in any bugs by accident. Believe me, subsistence farmers defend their crops against animals with whatever weapons they can get their hands on.

I don’t eat meat every day, and I try to buy organic meat and free-range chicken when I can get it. Ten years ago it was hard to find; now just about every supermarket I go into has chicken raised without antibiotics, eggs from free-range hens, and some kind of non-feedlot meat. So your individual choices can change how agriculture is produced, even if it takes years.

I spent a year as a “bug-eye vegetarian” (the least demanding type, the type that eats fish and fowl). I did it to see if I’d benefit from eating less fat, and I think I did. I don’t relate to Vegans and I’m not particularly sentimental about critters, but a week off of beef and pork products and I felt better than I had in years.

I once again eat beef and pork–but not nearly as much.

IANAV, but appreciate the fact that there are good ethical and health reasons to cut down on meat intake, especially red meat.

But just there’s no way I could give up meat completely. It’s too tasty; and besides that, I would feel so restricted if the half-dozen restaurants and delis within walking distance of my home were off limits because they don’t have suitable vegan fare. I see this with my stepdaughter. With all that we have literally around the corner from our apartment, she has to get in the car and drive to get to an acceptable vegetarian restaurant.

Vegetarians tend to doubt that their decisions result in the death of animals just as much as those of us who eat meat. Is it that hard to deal with the fact that animals die so that you can continue living?

That is the way things work, after all.

Manure is one of the best fertilizers out there. Where would the vegetable farmer get manure? Cattle farms are a pretty good place for it, and even if it’s a dairy farm, in most cases almost every male calf will be sold for veal. These cattle never would have existed at all if there were no market for the meat or milk they produce, so vegetarian hands are still not clean when it comes to supporting dairy and meat farms.

Then the proselytizing vegetarian can reap benefits of meat or dairy farming while condemning someone like me for actually eating meat. I suppose that is more hypocritical than ironic.

Krokodil- I am waiting for the pile on :stuck_out_tongue: - many vegetarians don’t like that term being applied to anyone who eats any meat- in fact they are starting to not want the term applied to those who consume eggs & dairy. :rolleyes: (that last smiley refers only to the last group, not the former)

Getting back to the OP- there really isn’t any “health” reason to go vegetarian. By cutting back your meat to only a 3oz serving or so per day (which isn’t a lot) you will optimize your dietary health- assuming you also eat plenty of grains, veggies, etc. It is healthier to eat very small amounts of meat that to forgo it entirely. That being said- since vegetarians generally do watch what they eat- which the average American on his “see-food” diet doesn’t- they are somewhat more healthy. If the best way for you to cut your junk-food intake is to go vegetarian, then that’s fine also.

Even if 2% were vegetarians, it is likely that wouldn’t effect the "meat market :smiley: " significantly (if it did do anything, it’d lower the price, which means “carnivores” woudl just eat more meat). Right now, it seems that beef has increased back again, what with the Atkins thing.