Over the past couple of days there has been a subject that has been on my mind. I’ve seen a few discussions and debates and indeed heated arguments between carnivores/omnivores VS vegan/vegetarians. I (try) respect everyone’s points of view and decisions that they make, regardless whether I agree with them or not. But the whole vegan VS carnivores, I believe, is a deeper subject than just meat VS veggies.
I am an omnivore. I have been eating meat as long as I remember and I enjoy the taste of it. I am also a hypocrite. Perhaps one of the biggest issues vegans and vegetarians have with meat eaters, is the cruel way in which animals are bred to just become food. This is where my hypocrisy comes in to play. I too don’t agree with how animals are treated and unnaturally kept in order to keep our bellies happy. We have all seen those pictures that flood the social media in an attempt to put you off eating meat. I’m even guilty of sharing such pictures, not to shock someone out of eating meat, but more to spread awareness of what the food industry is like. This makes me a hypocrite. I hate being a hypocrite. So what are my options? Well, vegans do make very good arguments with regards to diet and the way our bodies are constructed – we don’t need meat to survive. We can live quite easily and efficiently without meat at all in our diet. So I guess becoming a vegan would be an option. I wouldn’t eat meat, thus my conscience will be free of supporting a cruel, inhumane industry. The thing is, I like meat. I enjoy the texture and taste of it, so the question is am I willing to totally exclude meat from my diet to ease my conscience and make a personal stand against the meat industry?
If I have meat in my diet does that make me a bad person? I know the inhumanity that goes into getting me meat. I know animals suffer because of my preference for a more carnivorous diet, I know this and yet I still eat steaks, burgers and chicken. Yes, I even eat Macdonald’s from time to time. Does this make me bad? Lets draw some similarities between this and piracy. How many of us have illegal movie DVDs and music? We know piracy is bad, yet millions of us still do it. Again, I’m a hypocrite. Does this make me bad? The short, black and white answer would be yes. I am guilty of supporting piracy and liking meat, and the fact that I buy and support them means that I am also supporting their work ethics and giving them more business so they can do more of it. There is a huge question of morals that come into play and the answers are not always black and white, much of it resides in the grey area.
I believe freedom of choice is something we were born with. Choice is how we learn and navigate through life. Surely if meat was my preference I should be allowed that choice, regardless whether it is right or wrong, or whether others agree with it or not.
Many vegans and people would say that any animal killed for food is wrong, but is it? The fact is, to a large degree, right and wrong is a personal and subjective perception. What one person finds is “right” isn’t necessarily what another perceives to be “right”. I don’t think that eating an animal is cruel, what I do think is cruel is the way our corporate, capitalistic meat industry treats and “preps” animals to become food. In supporting this system I am wrong. Is there an alternative for the meat that comes out in bulk from the meat farms? Can I afford it? Or is this alternative an alternative to making money out of the meat-eater who has a conscience? I’m also pretty sure I would be arrested for giving thanks, then slaughtering a cow for food at a residential home – not that I would. Native American Indians hunted for food and gave thanks to the animal that they captured and killed. They lived in harmony with nature, does that make them wrong for slaughtering an animal for food for their community?
Although I am aware that we don’t need meat in our diet and that in fact the way our teeth and digestive system are, suggest that meat was never intended for human consumption, the fact remains is that we have been eating meat for millennia. Does that still make it right to kill an animal for food? Many people see animals as beneath us, lesser beings than the great human who dominates the world and is on top of the food chain. I love animals, and if it were not for the animals, ecosystem and food chain, this earth would not survive. It is one big balancing act and I am sad to say that it is out of balance. I think the main beef (excuse the pun) vegans have is with the farms and companies that run the highly unethical treatment of animals for food, and not necessarily with your choice of diet. If there was an alternative to the mistreatment of animals on farms, would vegans be happier with carnivores and omnivores? Or does it seem to them that we are the barbaric animals, unforgiving and uncaring for other life? We as humans have an awareness, and we should be able to see and make a call when something doesn’t sit morally with us, is this one of those subjects?
Like I have said before people have different views and perceptions. There is just too many of us and I think that is the problem. Everything is done is such massive, mind-blowing numbers which really makes this topic even more of a sensitive one. If we weren’t so over-populated, no doubt things would be different for the better. At the end of the day we are going to have to respect each others perceptions without theirs effecting ours. Our existence is based on a duality, a balance. To deduce everything into a “right” and “wrong” is impossible. It’s what makes our physical reality, and we were given free-will to experience it all. If we are unable to allow each other free-will then does it even exist? Having said that, have we not evolved enough to not mistreat a living creature and not give into our selfish preference?
Perhaps us humans are just animals. A lion will eat a zebra and a shark will eat a human. It happens in nature, animals will hunt and kill for food. Why would it be different for humans? Maybe it is natural for lions and sharks to eat meat, but it is also natural for man to make tools, build homes and use ingenuity to broaden perception and reality. We are animals at the end of the day and we are slaves to our animalistic tendencies, but perhaps our evolution will take us beyond that. Maybe we will evolve to love all living things, with no need to cause pain and hurt to eat and no need to be a hypocrite…
P.S. I am very aware that some of the points I brought up can be discussed to massive depths and there are both arguments for and against. If you argue this long enough you will end up full circle, right back at the beginning. There needs to be improvements made to the meat industry, but it is also up to us to make that difference, whether it is being an activist against the cruelty of the animals, you becoming a vegetarian or trying to spread awareness to the people who may not know what the industry is like. I guess the point is that we have to WANT to make a difference and we have to WANT to be vegetarians/vegans. Maybe one I day I will be able to disregard what I want and I end up doing what I believe is right.