Get Vegucated: A Moral/Environmental/Health Argument For Vegetarianism
“Non-Violence leads to the highest ethics, which is the goal of all evolution. Until we stop harming all other living beings, we are still savages.” – Thomas Edison
Thomas Edison is one of many that put our consumption of meat into perspective. The status quo in our society has become to consume meat as the main portion of our meals with two side dishes, typically a carbohydrate and a vegetable. I think it’s time that we truly reflect on the implications and morality of this norm. Let’s begin by examining our diet in a historical perspective.
For thousands of years, hunting and gathering food was our primary means of survival. We primarily consumed nuts, fruits, vegetables and, when we could, meat. It is worth noting the mental capacity of humans at certain periods of evolution to reflect on their decisions. We were primal creatures, focused on survival, and remained so for the majority of our existence. If there was an opportunity to eat meat or kill an animal, we would do so to ensure our own survival. We have only recently begun eating the way we do today. We’re now privileged with an abundant food supply, at least in developed nations. We produce more food than we could ever consume; our survival is no longer dependent on finding and consuming food. Which brings us to this point: If we no longer need to consume meat to survive, why do we continue to do so?
“A man can live and be healthy without killing animals for food; therefore, if he eats meat, he participates in taking animal life for the sake of his appetite. And to act so is immoral.” – Leo Tolstoy
Leo Tolstoy accurately places the burden of meat consumption on our selfishness. We are simply consuming it for taste preference; we have alternative means of meeting our nutritional needs. The most common concern amongst non-vegetarians is eating an appropriate amount of protein, when realistically this is of little concern. Vegetarian diets are one of the healthiest diets you can adopt. Plant based diets are healthy and natural, and provide adequate protein. Despite the fact that we can easily consume the amount of protein necessary to sustain life through natural sources like nuts, legumes and vegetables, we additionally have the resource of protein supplements that ensure we can consume the amount of protein our body requires to repair itself. Vegetarian diets are actually healthier than meat based diets and are known to fight obesity and reduce the risk of cancer, high cholesterol, cardiovascular disease, hypertension and diabetes to start.
To amplify the already immoral act of unjustly taking life, today’s factory farms force animals to live the majority of their lives in horrible conditions. Convenience, struggle nor traditions are justifications for causing unnecessary pain. These animals are shoved together, thrown around, fed food to make them too fat to even support themselves, forced into cages and to live amongst their fellow species’ feces and dead bodies. To say they are ignorant to their conditions is apathetic. We need to be compassionate beings as a species.
“The question is not, Can They Reason? Nor, Can they talk? But, Can they suffer” – Jeremy Bentham
All animals are sentient creatures. Our society has come to value certain animals more than others because of their appearance. We are aghast when someone mentions eating a dog or cat, but continue to eat a pork sandwich for dinner. We shouldn’t determine whether something lives or dies because of its appearance. We are essentially saying, “I’m sorry pig, but despite being more intelligent than cats or dogs, I find them more ascetically pleasing, therefore I’m going to slaughter you.” Are these the values we want our society to adopt? We preach “It’s what’s on the inside that counts” but contradict these decisions each time we sit down for dinner.
“Nothing will benefit human health and increase chances for survival of life on Earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet.” – Albert Einstein
It is tough to argue against the beneficial influence truncating meat consumption and therefore production will have on our environment. This infographic does a great job capturing the effect meat consumption has on our environment. To summarize the infographic, meat diets cause 7x the greenhouse gasses as vegan diets. In a time of pressing climate change, any effort we can make to increase our planet’s sustainability is crucial. Climate change is now proven to be expedited by our culture of consumption; we need to do what we can to reduce our footprint.
The beneficial health and environmental effects, coupled with my moral philosophy provided enough reason for me to embrace a vegetarian diet. I was inspired by a friend to take the plunge, and I hope my rationale and framing of the environment and moral implications meat consumption poses causes you to reflect on your dietary choices. You don’t need to dive head first in for your actions to have an impact, try reducing the consumption or becoming a weekday vegetarian. Don’t turn a blind eye by taking the easy route and denying the implications of your actions. Make a change for the better, I promise it’s easier than you think. It’s a truly rewarding feeling to know my actions reflect my values and I’m personally not causing unnecessary suffering. I hope you join me.
“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated”