Thoughts on food: Part 2 (Thinking about turkeys lately…)

I recently read this article:

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/22/opinion/22steiner.html

I frequently read things like this. I’m going along, so SO agreeing to some things, and yet drawing such a very different conclusion. I preface the rest of this post by saying that I do not mean to offend anyone- I’m just long confused by this issue and am thirsty for some answers- primarily from my vegetarian/vegan friends, and anyone else who has any thoughts on this matter.

For those who don’t want to read the article (although it’s an easy, short read), it’s basically a guy who makes the case that it is morally wrong to kill/use animals for human ends- regardless of the way that they were raised and slaughtered. He talks about how animals are able to feel suffering, also whether or not humans have the moral right to use animals for their pleasure, etc. I don’t think he makes a great case, although, it got me thinking seriously about the debate between vegetable based/omnivorous diets, and I’m really in the market for answers, here. So here goes my ramble.

Of the reasons for becoming a vegan/vegetarian, here are the ones I’m familiar with-

a) It’s healthier.
b) In protest to animal cruelty and the meat/dairy industry.
c) Religious reasons.
d) Environmental reasons.
e) Ethical objection to the taking of an animal life.

I’ll just go down the line.

It’s healthier.

The argument that a vegan/vegetarian diet is healthier- This is surely true in comparison to your average Western diet. Laden with chemicals and preservatives and hormone-filled meats, it does not surprise me in the slightest to look at statistics of how much healthier a veggie diet is. However, the thing that I so often see glossed over is the fact that a diet that is void of animal products is lacking. The talk about how a person can find all the nutrients they need in plant form is misleading- what about our ability to absorb and use those nutrients? Animal fat plays an important role in our health, from the absorption of essential nutrients to the development of brain cells. Our relationship to those essential nutrients is a much more complex one than we think. There are so many reasons why we evolved as omnivores- and it’s a shame there’s so much shotty information out there about nutrition. My research tells me that it is far healthier to eat lots of vegetables paired with pastured, completely natural meats, using all of the animal (meaning, ground beef and chicken breast is not a good representation of a healthy omnivorous diet. I’m talking about one that uses the whole animal, consuming organs and bone broths as well as the more common cuts.)
I assume it’s no secret that a vegan diet requires some supplementation to be healthy. Face value, that just seems unhealthy to me. I would much rather rely on whole foods than require supplementation to get by- not to mention the fact that the diet itself seems unnatural to me as a whole. I do think that it is much more possible to be healthy with a vegetarian diet, but only with the inclusion of whole dairy (preferably raw from pastured animals) and good eggs. However, when I think about that, I have issues with the sustainability side of it, along with the idea that it’s okay to keep animals for their milk and eggs, but just not for their meat. It seems a justification to me and I don’t see why, if we’re okay with the idea of raising animals for food, we don’t just eat them as well and receive the added benefits of a more varied, healthier diet (again, I must clarify, this is NOT based on a modern Western diet!). Eating dairy and eggs seems to acknowledge the necessity for animal products in our diets, and I figure, if we can find a good way to do that- why not? If anyone is interested in the specific details on why animals are so important for our health I’m happy to give more info- it’s just too much to include here.

*I’d like to add to this section to say that I acknowledge that there are some exceptions to this rule. There are those that truly benefit from a meat-free diet due to various health issues. I do not believe this is the norm, but I do believe it happens.


In protest to animal cruelty and the meat/dairy industry.

I absolutely oppose this too! There’s no way I’ll try to justify that industry. I am of the mind that these animals are here as equal beings on this planet- and should be treated as such, with great respect. The fact that we’ve hijacked every available space for them to live and roam is something I think we should remedy. It’s horrifying and unnatural, what they do to these animals. I don’t condone the industry in the slightest. However, I’m not sure why the lack of support for the industry results in the abandonment of an entire food group- and in the case of pastured livestock, they actually benefit the land and our vegetable growing efforts. Fact is, you don’t have to eat meat that supports that industry. Now, buying the right kind of meat takes some research, often times a little more money, and usually a little more rationing as a result, but it seems like just as much (if not less over time) effort than the switch to a plant-based diet. One does NOT have to support corrupt industries to have an omnivorous diet. It will likely be a more modest omnivorous diet, but I’m for that anyway.

Religious reasons.

Obviously, I can’t really say much on this one. I can’t debate about why someone’s god commands them to eat a certain way, so this one gets my thumbs up. It doesn’t seem sustainable to me, but I’ll get into that next.

Environmental reasons.

This was the one that almost got me going all veggie. On the surface, this seems to make a lot of sense. All the stuff you hear about how so many pounds of grain translate to so many pounds of meat is certainly true. However it’s only true in terms of unsustainable and unethical practices. Cows aren’t even supposed to eat grain. It makes them sick. That aside, the toll that the agricultural industry takes on the environment is nothing to scoff at. Large scale production of grain and veggies can come at a very high environmental cost, and without the use of animal inputs to help build up the soil, it requires loads of fertilizers and chemicals and pesticides to keep these plants alive and producing. The other thing is that a plant-based diet requires that food be transported from elsewhere, at least during the winter months. I’m looking at the entire infrastructure, and it’s not exactly environmentally friendly. I can much more easily eat an organic, local diet with the addition of a modest amount of animal foods. I assume that the idea is that a plant-based diet is supposed to be more sustainable, in addition to being able to feed more people. That may be true (the feeding more people part), but not without the help of toxic influences and the need to transport food all over the place and the inevitable consumption of loads of natural habitats.
Here’s where I start to sound really crazy… I’m not so sure that we SHOULD be trying to feed an ever-expanding population. I’m not saying I want people to starve, but I am in favor of working within our means, and a non-localized food system is making us delusional. Plus, it makes our food systems mostly reliant on the influence of big business, which we all know does not have our best interests at heart. I recently heard a story about how in starving parts of India there was a rice surplus, and rather than feeding the people there, they dumped the surplus into the ocean. Why? Because it wasn’t going to be bought.

Ethical objection to the taking of an animal life.

This one is tough. I’ll try to explain my issues with it as clearly as possible. I guess I understand that those that take this stance believe that the taking of an animal life is wrong, because they are sentient creatures and can feel suffering and pain. I believe that those things are true, they most definitely are sentient and can feel a whole host of emotions. Although, I suspect that it’s a uniquely human quality to look on death as being tragic and cruel in these circumstances. We don’t begrudge a wolf for catching a rabbit for his dinner. A wolf is just an animal like a human is an animal. We eat what we eat. We might feel a pang of sadness and mourning for the zebra that lost the race with the lion on the nature channel. Some make the case that humans are special in this way and are uniquely able to take this moral high ground because of a higher level of consciousness. Initially I get this argument. I mean, you kill something, that makes suffering and pain. Although, I sort of think that’s just life. I mean, the taking of a life is necessary for survival. Everything feeds off of something. And sure, you could make the case that a zebra can feel more suffering than a tree, but I’m not so sure. I’m starting to think that this kind of thinking is just further evidence of our separation from the land base and our own human nature. I think it’s unhealthy on both ends. On the one you have the guy eating burgers from a fast food joint every day, unwilling to care about the fate of those animals he so willingly consumes. On the other you have the person who is so appalled by the very idea of eating "flesh" that they act as if it was never a natural practice and was always rooted in cruelty.
As someone who has experienced some pain in my life, my reflection on it is this: pain and suffering is not always a bad thing. There is a distinct difference between pain with a natural purpose, and pain that is caused because of cruelty and exploitation and greed. This is the distinction that I believe should be made. So, ultimately, I see this utilitarian viewpoint as being somewhat dishonest in its nature. Whether you know it or not, the comforts and pleasures you experience come at a cost. I don’t really believe that you can experience and be grateful for all this peace and happiness and pleasure without having an understanding of the pain that it’s bound to. The killing of an animal for food is something that is very natural and purposeful. I also think that people would be far more grateful for their food and less likely to take it for granted were they able to really see the cost of it in a spiritual sense. This does not seem tragic to me, this seems like the design of life.
This brings me to my next point. How is veganism/vegetarianism really benefiting animals? If we were to all convert to a plant-based diet, how much more habitat would be lost? How many more insects and small animals would suffer as a result of the agricultural industry? How many water creatures would suffer because of industrial runoff? What should we do with all of the existing animals that were formerly used for food? How do we allow these animals to live their natural full lives without a place to live it? If cattle take up so much space and eat so much grain to survive, are we proposing to kill them off? What about the lack of plant diversity and the resulting disease in the plant world? Don’t the animals suffer and die for these things? What about the fact that our entire way of life is, in one way or another, fucking up everyone’s chance to live on a clean and healthy planet. Why is the act of killing an animal for food morally abhorrent, and yet continuing to feed and perpetuate civilization is just fine? It’s just so short sighted to me. I don’t claim to know the answers to all these questions, I am by no means an expert, but I’m challenging this perspective by asking just a few more questions. I mean, is it actually doing animals less harm to not kill them for food? I mean, as long as one is making the distinction between need and exploitation, I’m not sure we’re doing animals (or ourselves) any favors by abstaining and claiming that it’s the moral thing. Just to throw it out there- what if eating meat were to actually be more sustainable (and I don’t mean in terms of being able to feed everyone on the planet, I mean in terms of being able to feed local people local food. Thinking about really eating within our means.)? What if that’s the case? Wouldn’t the animals appreciate a clean planet to live on, in plentiful numbers, rather than one that allows them to live in a toxic and dwindling environment for a few more years? Is death really the worst thing for them?


That’s all I can think of to write on the subject. These are just my personal thoughts, but for so long they’ve been rattling around in my head and I never seem to get any real dialogue on the subject from my vegetarian/vegan friends (who I greatly respect). Please, I know you might be tired of defending your choices to others, but I really see myself as being on the same side… I just seem to have come to a very different conclusion, and that makes me thirsty for answers. Anything you can contribute to help clarify things for me would be appreciated. At the very least I’m interested in what your reasons are for being vegetarian or vegan, and if you think I’ve missed anything.

Gracie
Gracie

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Comments (54)

  1. pearlstreetdiva

    this stands out to me the most:
    How is veganism/vegetarianism really benefiting animals? If we were to all convert to a plant-based diet, how much more habitat would be lost? How many more insects and small animals would suffer as a result of the agricultural industry? How many water creatures would suffer because of industrial runoff? What should we do with all of the existing animals that were formerly used for food? How do we allow these animals to live their natural full lives without a place to live it? If cattle take up so much space and eat so much grain to survive, are we proposing to kill them off? What about the lack of plant diversity and the resulting disease in the plant world? Don’t the animals suffer and die for these things? What about the fact that our entire way of life is, in one way or another, fucking up everyone’s chance to live on a clean and healthy planet. Why is the act of killing an animal for food morally abhorrent, and yet continuing to feed and perpetuate civilization is just fine? It’s just so short sighted to me.

    because as a vegetarian i dont do it thinking that realistically EVERYONE will be or SHOULD be vegetarian….so the idea of this happening is not thought about. I don’t say “hey i should eat animals cause if i don’t they will take over the land”

    I think eating meat if you hunted it is the absolute most humane way to do it. Next step down is buying free range “happy” meat. Mostly I can’t imagine digging my teeth into an animal. and of course a quote from ani to always guide my thoughts…

    “the mighty multi-nationals have monopolized the oxygen, so it’s as easy as breathing for us all to participate”

    until the world ends and we can possibly start over….i’m just minimizing my impact, even if it sacrifices some part of my complete health. We don’t eat lots of veggies in the winter cause we won’t buy them which challenges us to preserve more, support greenhouse winter farmers, & grow in our own greenhouse!

    We do rely on the transport of beans/legumes and a little tempeh/tofu. oh also grains. definitely buy those that are available locally first and always trying to find new sources.

    Reply
    1. Gracie (Post author)

      I was really thinking of you when I wrote this- and I was hoping you would respond. The way that you and your family eats seems like a very interesting exception to me. I want you to know that I really really respect you guys and what you do. πŸ™‚

      That’s interesting, what you say. I have thought about the distinction between raised animals and hunted ones, and I agree with you. I’ll have to think more about what you’ve said and I will comment a little later when I have more time. And for the record- we should be so lucky to have animals take over this land! πŸ™‚

      Reply
    2. Gracie (Post author)

      Okay, I have some more time. So, if I’m getting this right- your reasons for being vegetarian are not rooted in the idea that it would be more sustainable for everyone? That was just an assumption that I made about it. I guess in my own life I don’t expect people to make the changes that I have made, but I do think that if they were to it would create a more sustainable world.
      I actually think the way you guys eat is great- and I think you tend to be an exception to what I am familiar with. Most of the local eaters I know feel like they must include meat (many of them were former vegetarians) in order to do it. Sounds like you guys are able to do it without meat. πŸ™‚

      Reply
      1. pearlstreetdiva

        ok- i have not joined the institution of marriage because it exempts a ‘lifestyle’ that i totally agree with and see as unfair to them. However if the laws would change then I owuld consider joining……or not cause I am comfortable and it seems like no big deal.

        4 or 5 years ago when I made the choice to be vegetarian it was for ethical and dietary reasons. I considered sustainability an additional bonus although I never researched those details. Turns out that my change of diet resulted in NO MORE EXPLOSIVE LOOSE STOOLS LESS THAN 5 MINUTES AFTER EATING. (no i was not yelling that!) I stopped having awful intestinal problems although farting still stays with me….

        I have considered eating meat again with further information coming into my life. but I’m comfortable and I just can’t imagine digging my teeth in. Plus I don’t crave it at all. My body is getting plenty of protein and we don’t buy a lot of stuff. Plus we get lots of free things.

        So until there is a HUGE change in the world or a significant decrease in the population then I owuld consider saving her (earth) without destroying her by growing tons of food or something….whatever you’re saying or trying to say up there. I just don’t see our simple diet as hurting the earth and if it ever came to a point where EVERYONE started doing it then I’d reconsider……..

        like before we are all doing some damage, its impossible to . It seems like you’re looking for a rebuttal against where your research has lead you…unfortunately I don’t have that information to have the discussion.

        Reply
        1. Gracie (Post author)

          Thank you so much for giving this post some attention. I was thinking about you guys last night, and I think that the way that you guys eat is just great, and I do think it’s probably lower impact than the way that I do. I just really want to clarify that I greatly admire what you guys do and how you eat. I don’t think your simple diet is hurting the earth. πŸ™‚ Although, you are not the norm, just like I’m not the normal meat eater. I’m skeptical about veg. diets being able to sustainably feed everyone, but the fact is that we don’t live in a sustainable world yet.
          I suppose part of my motive in eating meat now is to learn to ration and use meat in creative ways, to learn about hunting/raising animals and killing them- things that are somewhat unnecessary right in the present, but that I hope to pass on to my kids as a valuable skill. Honestly, if I were trying to be as low-impact as possible, then I’d likely eat how you do. So really, you get my praise.
          When I wrote this I was thinking about all the blogs and articles I read like “50 reasons to become vegan” and stuff like that, that just seem to be filled with misinformation. But truthfully, whenever I’d read something like that I’d think, “but then there’s Lindsay and Isiah…” and I’m sure many other people out there. I really admire you guys, and I hope to learn lots from you in the future. I see us as being on the same team, and whenever you want to help found an eco-village with me, I’m ready! Also, a serious “Yay!” for no more explosive stools.

          Reply
  2. unicorntapestry

    I don’t have a meat icon.

    “Obviously, I can’t really say much on this one. I can’t debate about why someone’s god commands them to eat a certain way, so this one gets my thumbs up. It doesn’t seem sustainable to me, but I’ll get into that next.”

    So why doesn’t keeping kosher seem sustainable? As far as I can tell, it cuts out a few things and just separates the other food groups, as in “don’t eat these together.” Just curious, not defensive. πŸ™‚

    Also, I totally agree with your first point. I’ve always thought that humans were omnivores for a reason and that cutting meat out entirely could have some side effects, despite supplements.

    Reply
    1. Gracie (Post author)

      Re: I don’t have a meat icon.

      I do think keeping kosher can be sustainable. I only meant in the context of an all plant-based diet (I was thinking of Hindus). Sorry, should have specified.

      Reply
  3. vianna_dufaye

    First. As you know. I’m a vegetarian. I have no choice in the matter as my body naturally does not produce substantial amounts of certain enzymes, making it difficult for me to consime most animal protein. I also do not agree with vivsection, and when shopping tend to favor brands that I know do not experiment on animals and are not owned by companies that do. (Although I’m not always the one that buys things for the house)
    Second. Regardless of a person’s cause, extremeism is above all, acting as if their views are superior to a point of neglecting to believe that any other judgement or thought may have any grounding. It is one thing to live life with certain set path and morale, it is another to force others into it, without educating them without bias and allowing them to make their own judgement.

    This is how I see it in terms of food consumption:
    My cat ate meat because that is what her body needs. Mufvyn was a huntress and killed her own food. I couldn’t tell her not to eat what her body instictively knew was food.
    Humans eat food too. And require a specific regemine of nutrients to keep their bodies functioning. We come with a specific set of enzymes and specific tastes. In general, most human bodies function best on an omnivorous diet. Their bodies instictively know that, and naturally wish to consume an omnivorous diet. Its simply human nature as Mother Nature granted us to be omnivorous.
    Cruelty to animals would be defined as being cruel to animals. Not in eating food.

    Reply
    1. Gracie (Post author)

      It sounds like you and I agree, really. When I wrote this I knew it could come off in a preachy kind of way, but I meant it as an honest exploration of the issue from my point of view. I’m not sure what you meant by your second point. I agree with you- is that how I’m coming off here? I meant this as an honest and candid exploration of my thoughts and confusion on the issue- not to be taken as trying to “force” anyone into my lifestyle.
      Honestly, I find that most veggie folks that I talk to about these things don’t actually help me to understand those issues I mentioned above, and that’s frustrating, especially because they tend to be doing it for the same reasons I do many things. So should I hop on board? I can’t seem to get any real answers from them, and that was all that this was an attempt to do- to get some answers.

      Reply
      1. vianna_dufaye

        In the end, you are the only one who knows what is right for you, your body, and your path.
        What do you believe is right?

        β€œWaste no more time arguing about what a good man should be. Be one.”
        ~Marcus Aurelius

        Reply
        1. Gracie (Post author)

          I mean, I’m trying to figure that out, here. You know me, and for the most part I’m a woman of action. It does take some thought though, and having some thoughts and not understanding some things is something that I think is important to pay attention to. I’m not a relativist- I can’t just say “Different strokes for different folks” in every area. This is one area I feel needs clarification. The way that we should eat is a big deal to me. I’m not claiming to know the answer- merely asking for some real dialogue about this stuff to try to figure it out.

          Reply
          1. vianna_dufaye

            But the truth is, different bodies require different sets of nutrients, which would thus come from different sources.

            Quite often, your body will tell you what it needs on its own. For example, I used to crave pepper a lot, and it turned out my diet was otherwise low in zinc.

            A body builder would need a different regimine then say, a monk. A child would need different foods than an adult.

            My partner has difficulty digesting large amounts of vegetables. Hes mostly a carnivore, because his body craves meat and he get sick if he eats much of anything else. His body rejects it.
            I’m exactly the opposite. My body rejects meat.
            If we were forced to eat only a specific set of food because of morale or some such, at least one of us would die due to malnurishment.

            Its a matter of what the body needs and a matter of survival. Nature built humans to be omnivores. Nature did not build humans to enslave the planet.

            Do you believe your diet is enslaving nature?

          2. Gracie (Post author)

            I’m not sure that I understand the points you’re trying to make. Or maybe I am. I agree that sometimes people are built differently- but I feel pretty good about being able to generalize about basic nutritional needs. You happen to be an exception here, and I am happy to include an amendment to my section on health. There’s a comment below yours that says something along the same lines, and I won’t try to argue that some people are built differently.

            I have to say, I’m totally confused by your last question. It seems to me like you’re trying to say something and sort of skirting around it- throwing questions back at me as if I’m not being honest enough with myself. My motives are very clear here. I’m not trying to rationalize my actions- I’ve dealt with myself in that area, and I feel good about the way that I eat (working within the confines of a corrupt system to begin with, like we all are). I’m also not looking to judge anyone else or tell them how to live- I’m, frankly, grateful that veggie folks are doing anything and thinking about the world and what they consume. This makes us very similar, but the points I mentioned above have caused me some confusion for a while now, and if I can appeal for some answers then I thought I might.

          3. vianna_dufaye

            I don’t skirt around anything Grace. I’m not like that, and should shouldn’t even have to question that.

            The point I’m trying to make is that different things suit different people.
            If you feel it would be better for you to be a vegetarian, if you feel it would be better to raise your children vegetarian, by all means do so. But its something that each person finds their own reason to do or not do. Only you know whether or not it is right for you.

          4. Gracie (Post author)

            I think I get the point that you’re trying to make, it’s just not the reason for this post, so it’s confusing me. Sorry I thought you were skirting the point- but I suppose I’m a little bothered by the fact that I wrote this to get some responses to the points that I’ve made, because I really respect my vegetarian friends and care about their reasons for doing things, and I think some of this stuff would matter to them. Despite my efforts to clarify over and over, I’m still getting what I seem to always get when I try to talk about this stuff. Like I said, I’m pretty sure I know what’s right for me and my family, but I’m still in the market for some more thoughts/information on the things I’ve written. I apologize, though, because I must be really unclear.

          5. Gracie (Post author)

            I just re-read this comment, and I don’t want it to come off as snippy in any way. I didn’t write it feeling that, it’s a shame how written language leaves out so much (or puts so much in!). Anyway, I will thank you for being concerned for me and wanting to impart your wisdom on the subject.

          6. Anonymous

            I think when I originally responded, it was based on your original intent. A debate/discussion is usually not posed as anything more than that.
            But when you expressed that it was because you couldn’t decide if you should “Hop on board”, I found myself responding to that statement instead.

  4. purerandomness

    In my mind, we evolved as omnivores. Therefore, humans need some kind of animal product in their diet to live as we were meant to. At the same time, the way that we’re getting our animal products (the majority of Westerners) is not the best way and a lot more people are realizing it.
    It takes small changes to get the ball rolling, right? So why does the NYTimes author look down on people who buy free-range eggs when maybe that’s their first step in a more sustainable diet? If everyone bought free-range eggs, well then maybe the next step would be grass-fed beef and then local meats only and then… it could be incredible!
    I think everyone needs to be exposed to all kinds of lifestyle choices and know the pros and cons of each, then make their own decision.

    Reply
    1. Gracie (Post author)

      I like this perspective- I think it’s undoubtedly a good thing that people are working towards sustainability. There was one thing, though, that refreshed me about this guy’s writing. It was so… no nonsense. He seemed really convicted and just began asking about whether or not we are just appeasing our consciences. In that case, I don’t really agree with him, because I don’t think that taking the life of an animal for food is wrong, but I think he’s on to something. I’m not trying to tell people how to live, but I think there’s a place for calling out people’s denial and going forward with what we believe is the right thing. Anyway, I’ll give him that much. πŸ™‚

      Reply
  5. wolfteaparty

    I’m a vegetarian (aside from the occasional non-vegetarian “treat”) and used to be vegan. Going vegan did wonderful things for my health. I have polycystic ovarian syndrome, which means I’m overweight and can hardly lose weight for the life of me, and eating a normal diet makes me fat. I’m also pretty much infertile (even though I would like children someday, and it’s a depressing thing to think about) and stuck with constant acne and male hair growth and fatigue. After I went vegan, the weight started to really drop off, my fertility came back pretty much instantly, and my other symptoms really improved too. So I was mainly doing it for health reasons, but the other reason was that I had found out some horrific things about factory farming and hormones. To make up for what I was missing out on in my food, I took certain supplements.

    I fell off the vegan train and haven’t been able to get back on since, because whenever I try, I get addicted to cheese again. πŸ˜› Sadly, all the things that went away came back, like the excess weight and the infertility. Veganism seemed to be the only real solution, even after doctors had put me on other diets that were supposed to essentially “cure” me. (It would really help if somebody would finally put me on Metformin, the drug that’s supposed to help us, but they seem to think I can handle this disease without it just by eating low-carb…) I’m still a vegetarian because I am uncomfortable still with factory farming, and while I know you can find meat not from sources like that, it’s just a moral/comfort issue for me and I think it does make my diet lower in fat. I do get food for my cat with meat products in it, because cats are carnivores and I don’t feel comfortable taking a gamble with my cat’s health trying to make him a vegan, and he already has GI issues.

    So my reasons for past eating behavior? Mainly health reasons, but also vague moral and environmental reasons. πŸ˜›

    Reply
    1. Gracie (Post author)

      Thank you for this! You have prompted me to amend my first section on health- there are definitely those with actual health issues and would benefit from a vegetarian diet. πŸ™‚

      Reply
      1. wolfteaparty

        It’s quite possible that the only reason I benefited from the diet was because it was lower in calories than any previous diet and allowed me to finally lose enough weight for my health to start to turn around. But I guess I have to eat fewer calories to lose weight than normal people.

        Reply
  6. Anonymous

    These are some observations.I could be totally off, and perhaps too blunt, if so I apologize in advance.
    We are conditioned to believe that eating meat is beyond reproach. That vegetarians are weird deviants and that we need meat to be healthy Americans.Most people are threatened by the idea of going Veg. I applaud you for even taking the time to examine something that is so ingrained in our culture.
    Sounds like eating meat is creating some dissonance for you, as evidenced by this whole discussion. When I read your post my immediate thought was nice rationalization, and I can relate. Rationalization is what I tend to do to make myself feel better when my beliefs and my actions are not in agreement and I have no intention of changing my actions. So, you can either continue to rationalize eating meat,or stop. It really is that simple. The decision to not eat meat does not have to be the result of a long, drawn out cognitive process. The cost/benefit analysis in which you are engaged seems to me like an exercise in futility. Do you want to be a person who eats meat or not? If so, embrace it, sink your teeth in to it, chew it up and swallow it down. If not stop. Either way you have my respect.

    Reply
    1. Gracie (Post author)

      No need to apologize, I’m just not sure you really read what I wrote. I feel good about the way that I eat now, and I’m constantly working to improve it and be more sustainable. I’m glad you’re concerned about my conscience, so thanks for that. πŸ™‚
      I guess I’m disappointed by comments like this, because you seem to not even give my points a nod (and I’m sorry you see them as empty rationalizations- I think they really matter), which is what I so often get when I try to bring up any of my issues here. For instance, thoughts that pops into my head like “If everyone was a vegan, then we’d all be reliant on petroleum products, and that’s not good at all… I wonder what a vegan would say about this…” And yet, you have nothing to give me but a somewhat self-righteous speech on how I’ve got to just simplify and do what feels right. It’s just not how I roll…

      Reply
      1. Anonymous

        Hi its me again,
        So, I really was not trying to be condescending. I appreciate your points, but none of them resonate with me in terms of my dietary choices. I guess where I am coming from is that my decision to not eat animals has little to do with the points you made regardless of their validity. I just do not want to eat animals, it really is that simple for me. I would not eat meat if it was healthier, I would not eat meat if it was better for the environment, I would not eat meat if god said it was OK, I would not eat meat if somehow it was better for animals to not eat meat. You and I seem to be on different pages about the dietary thing and that is OK. I do agree that it is important to live a sustainable life and it sounds like you are really trying, so am I. We are each doing it in our own way. The supplement thing is news to me I have not eaten meat in over 20 years and my Doc. says I’m fine πŸ™‚ Peace

        Reply
        1. Gracie (Post author)

          I suppose it makes sense that none of my points would resonate if you just don’t like to eat animals. It’s cool that it is so simple for you- but I think it’s not fair to assume that it should be for others and make those kinds of judgments. If you have any thoughts on my actual points, I’d be glad to hear them. I’m glad you’re healthy, and working towards a sustainable future, and that makes us pretty similar. πŸ™‚

          Reply
  7. 93_millionmiles

    Wow, I’m really surprised by most of the responses here but when I was bouncing back and forth between a vegetarian and vegan diet, I suppose I was a tiny bit sensitive about it as well.

    My responses to most of these points would have been a lot like yours; although, I don’t think I’ll ever truly be able to understand religion as a reason for anything.

    Reply
    1. Gracie (Post author)

      We should really do coffee soon, yes?

      Reply
      1. 93_millionmiles

        Yes, we should. πŸ™‚

        Reply
        1. Gracie (Post author)

          What are you doing Friday morning?

          Reply
          1. 93_millionmiles

            Hanging out with you. πŸ™‚

          2. Gracie (Post author)

            Great! Say, 9 am at Beezy’s?

          3. 93_millionmiles

            Sounds good. I’ll be there.

  8. Anonymous

    Human beings are the beneficiaries of unearned privilege. We use our privilege to oppress other animals. Meat eaters are the dominant group in this hierarchy, they make the rules, set the norms, dictate the bias and define the construct. Meat eaters, like other dominant groups, have a hard time seeing the world from any other standpoint but their own dominant one. Vegetarians have unearned human privilege, but they are still marginalized by the dominant group, meat eating humans. Vegetarians have to deal every day with people questioning and minimizing their beliefs, stereotyping them and taking jabs at something that many feel is as much a part of their identity as their religion or orientation.The point is that being Veg. is to many people one of the most important and sacred pieces of their identity, it is at the core and it is not up for debate any more than chopping off an arm is or having intercourse with a member of the same or opposite gender depending on you orientation . Some people may roll their eyes or laugh when they read this, which further proves my point.
    Other animals are the oppressed, they have no say and no rights beyond the ones that we give them, they are completely at our mercy. We are obligated to consider their rights as highly as our own. We have evolved to the extent that we are destroying the planet. We have also evolved to the point where we have the freedom to make decisions to do things differently. We are not bound to live off of other animals.
    Participation in the killing and oppression of other animals is inevitable for members of the human race just as participating in racism is inevitable for white people in our society. We can try to minimize our impact by using our privilege with integrity, but that does not make it go away. The impact that eating or not eating meat has on our health or the environment is of primary importance only to the extent that it may impact the lives of animals either directly or indirectly. We are faced with choices every day that impact other living things and there really is no way to avoid doing harm. Armed with the truth we must own our oppression of other animals and work against it in our own lives.

    Reply
    1. Gracie (Post author)

      This was nicely put, and I not once rolled my eyes. I agree with everything you say here.

      The thing I don’t seem to be getting across- if I found some issues/untruths with some of the things that people say (whether talking about vegetarianism or anything else), then I feel like it would be a good thing to get some open dialogue about it- without defensiveness or accusations or judgement. I’m trying to figure out how to live a moral life, with other humans on my team, teaching me along the way. I want to understand why people draw certain conclusions, I want to learn from them. I also think it’s my responsibility to bring to light misinformation, if I see any. If someone asks me why I make some of the choices that I make, or if they were confused by something that I did and found it to be contradictory, then I’d feel obligated to talk openly with them to try to either clarify or work to become more consistent. I’m finding that whenever I try to broach this particular topic with people, I’m met with a great deal of defensiveness or indifference. Perhaps that’s what I’ll have to accept on the matter, but I wasn’t satisfied with that.
      My motive is not to debate someone’s lifestyle, it’s to understand it and see why we really disagree. That doesn’t seem to be happening for me, and I think it’s unfortunate that vegetarians/vegans deal with so much prejudice- it seems to have left me with a disadvantage in terms of how to approach these issues.

      Reply
    2. lilpeace

      The thing that gets me with this idea of “we’ve evolved enough to choose not to live off of other animals,” is that it seems like you’re suggesting that we’re “above it” or that eating other animals is not an evolved way to eat. It strikes me as elitist. Humans are predatory animals in the same way that a lion or a wild boar or a dog is a predatory animal.

      Would you say that a bird is oppressed by cats? Gazelles oppressed by lions and tigers? Are hunting and gathering societies oppressing the animals that they depend on for protein? I wouldn’t say that, because that would be imposing Western systems and beliefs onto another species (or culture, in re: to indigenous cultures), which I think is pretty anthropocentric. How do we know that eating or not eating meat is even related to a moral system outside of that which we create ourselves? Does natural law dictate it? As far as I can tell, natural law dictates that there is a food chain, and that depending on a species place in that heirarchy, they participate in mutually beneficial relationships with other species. Part of that relationship involves feeding each other and controlling populations.

      Certainly, humans that are a part of Western civilization have pushed that natural law out of balance, and should work to rectify that (which, unfortunately, will necessitate our population declining significantly). But that doesn’t mean that the eating of other animals is inherently oppressive. Indigenous cultures have eaten meat and/or other animal products for thousands of years without throwing off the balance of their ecosystems. I agree that “We are faced with choices every day that impact other living things and there really is no way to avoid doing harm,” except that you assume that human consumption of other animals IS doing them harm, as a species. I’m inclined to think that we are a part of a cycle of life and death that just IS, that is amoral, and that can be beneficial for all species involved if we understand our responsibility.

      Reply
      1. Anonymous

        lilpeace, I like what you have to say it is thought provoking. I’ll be honest, I do believe we are above it.I am constantly dumbfounded by the fact that so many of the people who I greatly respect and consider much more intelligent than myself just don’t see it. Our predatory instinct is outdated and dysfunctional, it does not serve us anymore, and it probably hasn’t in at least a century. That combined with our over sized brains is definitely contributing to our destruction. Our power separates us from other predators in a very definitive way and mandates that we behave in a way that other animals couldn’t, shouldn’t and wont. We have the unique ability to transcend our instincts, and we do when we see it as convenient for us. I have no problem with indigenous cultures living as they have for eons, nor do I have a problem with animals hunting. Natural law is survival of the fittest,our society has laws that are intended to protect those who might be victimized.Our evolved brains and lazy asses are now an intricate part of the cycle of life. A part that needs to be factored in to the equation.

        Reply
        1. lilpeace

          A century, as a period in the span of human history and our future, is likely a very insignificant blip. Species don’t evolve out of a way of being in a century. It doesn’t strike me as very wise to consider a diet “above” others when it has basically never had any meaningful place in the whole of human existence, and which requires artificial supplementation to be nutritionally complete. There have never been and are no fully vegan traditional societies, which I think is telling.

          I don’t understand your comment, “Natural law is survival of the fittest,our society has laws that are intended to protect those who might be victimized.” Do you mean that we have had to impose laws to protect the potentially victimized, in an attempt to escape or transcend natural law? In any case, I think we have grossly misinterpreted natural laws.

          Our downfall will be that we believe ourselves to be above other animal species and more “civilized” than traditional societies.

          Reply
          1. Anonymous

            I was referring to evolution not only in a biological sense.Our society has changed more in the past 150 years than in the thousands of years before, and is therefore in some ways more significant. You and I disagree about some things, to me not eating meat is akin to not eating my neighbor. I guess I have no idea what your definition of natural law is. Human beings have been committing violent acts against each other since the beginning of time, and many of these acts have nothing to do with survival. We are now capable of committing these acts on a larger scale, including genocide of animals.
            I have no clue what our downfall will be, but the fact that we may potentially play a part in it is unique to our species.It seems that we are on the wrong path and have been for some time. Perhaps we do agree that the fact that we have no vegan societies is telling, but we have come to different conclusions about the story it tells.

    3. Gracie (Post author)

      I just wanted to add something to what I previously wrote. On the one hand I agree with most of what you say here- and yet I’m still able to draw a different conclusion. That’s what prompted this whole post, and I’m glad to get some discussion on the matter.

      The one thing I didn’t mention before that confused me is what you say about vegetarianism being an orientation of sorts. I can’t argue that someone may have been born with no desire to eat meat- but I think that is rare. Overall, I think we are born as omnivores. Fact is, being vegetarian is a choice, and I can’t see it being comparable to sexuality or something- over which one has no control. So, I’m willing to accept that it’s a very personal issue and is sacred to many people, but I don’t think it’s beyond discussion in that way. Asking to understand the choices people make is a lot different than asking for an explanation for why someone is gay or straight.

      Reply
      1. Anonymous

        I do not intend to contribute to stereotypes and homophobia, you are right it is a choice, which orientation is not. But who we have sex with is a choice and being vegetarian may be as integral a part of ones identity as their orientation. I identify as straight, but I would have sex with a man way before I would eat meat. Perhaps I should have compared it more to religion, but that makes me uncomfortable for personal reasons. I am grateful that I am privileged enough to be able to afford to eat the kind of food that I feel good about eating and that I do not have to have sex with people I am not attracted to in order to survive.

        Reply
  9. Anonymous

    http://www.3quarksdaily.com/3quarksdaily/2009/12/scientists-grow-pork-meat-in-a-laboratory.html

    SCIENTISTS have grown meat in the laboratory for the first time. Experts in Holland used cells from a live pig to replicate growth in a petri dish.

    Environmentally sound and cruelty free?

    Reply
    1. Gracie (Post author)

      Ew. I don’t think we should be eating that way. If you read my post above, you’d see that I’m for a way of eating that is working within our natural means (of which I don’t believe this kind of thing is). I also think that humans have become really exploitative and this would just feed that beast.

      What’s your opinion?

      Reply
      1. Anonymous

        I wont even do GMO soy or corn, thats just way over the top

        Reply
    1. Gracie (Post author)

      Thanks for this article, but it’s the same old rhetoric, unfortunately. The two things that I see addressed are a) the issues of plant calories vs. animal calories, and how wasteful that is, and b) the assumption that the death of an animal for food is intrinsically bad and inhumane, comparing it to hanging and lethal injection.

      I address both of these issues above, so I’ll just quote it:

      “…the thing that I so often see glossed over is the fact that a diet that is void of animal products is lacking. The talk about how a person can find all the nutrients they need in plant form is misleading- what about our ability to absorb and use those nutrients? Animal fat plays an important role in our health, from the absorption of essential nutrients to the development of brain cells.”

      It’s misleading to tout all calories as being equal- different foods do different things for us. Meat plays an important role in our health. I wouldn’t exactly call that wasteful. I’m also only in favor of grass-fed beef and pastured animals, which he even exempts from his argument- “But they are, of all the animals we eat, a very rare exception.”

      And then on the issue of killing animals being inhumane:

      “…I suspect that it’s a uniquely human quality to look on death as being tragic and cruel in these circumstances. We don’t begrudge a wolf for catching a rabbit for his dinner. A wolf is just an animal like a human is an animal. We eat what we eat. We might feel a pang of sadness and mourning for the zebra that lost the race with the lion on the nature channel. Some make the case that humans are special in this way and are uniquely able to take this moral high ground because of a higher level of consciousness. Initially I get this argument. I mean, you kill something, that makes suffering and pain. Although, I sort of think that’s just life. I mean, the taking of a life is necessary for survival. Everything feeds off of something. And sure, you could make the case that a zebra can feel more suffering than a tree, but I’m not so sure. I’m starting to think that this kind of thinking is just further evidence of our separation from the land base and our own human nature. I think it’s unhealthy on both ends. On the one you have the guy eating burgers from a fast food joint every day, unwilling to care about the fate of those animals he so willingly consumes. On the other you have the person who is so appalled by the very idea of eating “flesh” that they act as if it was never a natural practice and was always rooted in cruelty.”

      Reply
    2. Gracie (Post author)

      continuing the above response…


      and to quote the lovely lilpeace above:

      “The thing that gets me with this idea of “we’ve evolved enough to choose not to live off of other animals,” is that it seems like you’re suggesting that we’re “above it” or that eating other animals is not an evolved way to eat. It strikes me as elitist. Humans are predatory animals in the same way that a lion or a wild boar or a dog is a predatory animal.

      Would you say that a bird is oppressed by cats? Gazelles oppressed by lions and tigers? Are hunting and gathering societies oppressing the animals that they depend on for protein? I wouldn’t say that, because that would be imposing Western systems and beliefs onto another species (or culture, in re: to indigenous cultures), which I think is pretty anthropocentric. How do we know that eating or not eating meat is even related to a moral system outside of that which we create ourselves? Does natural law dictate it? As far as I can tell, natural law dictates that there is a food chain, and that depending on a species place in that heirarchy, they participate in mutually beneficial relationships with other species. Part of that relationship involves feeding each other and controlling populations.”

      Certainly, humans that are a part of Western civilization have pushed that natural law out of balance, and should work to rectify that (which, unfortunately, will necessitate our population declining significantly). But that doesn’t mean that the eating of other animals is inherently oppressive. Indigenous cultures have eaten meat and/or other animal products for thousands of years without throwing off the balance of their ecosystems. I agree that “We are faced with choices every day that impact other living things and there really is no way to avoid doing harm,” except that you assume that human consumption of other animals IS doing them harm, as a species. I’m inclined to think that we are a part of a cycle of life and death that just IS, that is amoral, and that can be beneficial for all species involved if we understand our responsibility.”

      Also, to directly address what this guy says about lethal injection and hanging- it’s not a fair comparison by a long shot. On the one hand you have the death of an animal for food- and on the other you have the death of a human being perpetrated by members of its own species for subjective reasons that can’t even be compared to the need to kill for food. I can’t possibly equate the two.

      I’m starting to wonder if folks even took the time to read what I wrote.

      Reply
  10. robinbronwen

    Holy smokes! The reply content is overwhelming here! I did read your actual post and I thank you for writing it. I could see you being a journalist having your own column in the paper about the environment and food. You’re a great writer and super organized in your thoughts.

    Reply
    1. Gracie (Post author)

      Oh no! I didn’t mean to overwhelm… I guess there is a lot of info. haha. Hey, thanks for saying that! I don’t feel all that organized most of the time, but it’s good to hear that it comes across that way. πŸ˜‰

      Reply
  11. frogfarm

    For reasons of both personal health and environmental impact, I eat only from the animal kingdom. In terms of personal health, Viljhalmur Steffanson’s “The Fat of the Land” and the associated “Clinical Calorimetry” research was enough to convince me. Regarding environmental impact, sustainability and ethical dilemmas, Lierre Keith’s “The Vegetarian Myth” (written by a 20+ year vegan) is an excellent resource.

    Reply
    1. Gracie (Post author)

      Whoa, you eat only from the animal kingdom? You don’t eat any vegetables?

      I’m actually really wanting to read “The Vegetarian Myth” – I’m a huge Derrick Jensen follower and he really recommends it. I’ll definitely check out your sources, you’ve got me curious.

      Reply
      1. frogfarm

        Oh hai, merry Christmas. Wasn’t expecting a reply that quick cause of the holidays πŸ™‚ “Fat of the Land” is available here for free as a PDF:

        http://www.zerocarbage.com/library/FOTL.pdf

        The “Clinical Calorimetry” stuff is referenced in footnote 1 here:

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/No-carbohydrate_diet

        I’ve been mostly meat, some eggs, and a little bit of butter and cheese for about six months. Just turned the big four oh, and feel better than I have since high school! Hoping to get a few tests done and numbers run this year, just for curiosity’s sake.

        There’s a thriving community at

        http://forum.zeroinginonhealth.com/

        with the overwhelming majority experiencing greatly improved health. Oh, and two of my favorite “independent” ZC bloggers: Jezwyn, at

        http://girlgoneprimal.blogspot.com/

        and Danny Roddy at

        http://www.carnivorehealth.com/

        Anyway, that’s enough science spam, but I’d be happy to bore you with share more details on my own personal journey down this path. Didn’t mean to proselytize, but I came across your post linked from Nourishing Days (I think it was) and since I use my LJ for the occasional ZC post as well as fangirling and ficcing…

        Thanks for the original post — from what I can see, it’s inspired some great discussion above!

        Reply
        1. Gracie (Post author)

          Thanks for the links, I’ll definitely look them all over. It’s hard for me to believe that a diet without veggies is healthy one, but I’m really glad you’re feeling so good. I’m definitely interested in whatever you have to share on the subject. πŸ™‚

          Reply
          1. frogfarm

            Cool! I’ve tagged my ZC posts on LJ, and there’s also my Delicious health bookmarks which includes some “contrarian” views πŸ™‚ Basically there are plenty of folks (Michael Eades, Kurt Harris, etc) who recognize that ZC isn’t bad for most people, but who also believe that such “radical” carb restriction isn’t necessarily mandatory except for those with the most severe health problems. I’m sure that’s more than enough for you to chew on for now, so I’ll try to remember to check in again after the holidays — best wishes to you!

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