Tonight’s episode of Celebrity MCSA featured alternative protein in the form of rabbit, pigeon, guinea fowl, blesbok and crocodile. This brought an inevitable sputtering of agitated tweets from vegetarians, which made me decide to tackle this topic once and for all.
Let me start off by saying that I do not mind vegetarianism (for the sake of brevity, I am not including veganism; but the argument can be applied to them too). If you do not want to eat meat, that’s your prerogative. I do not judge you, think less of you or loathe you for it. What I don’t appreciate is when vegetarians don’t afford their counterparts the same respect.
So for vegetarians who wish to throw me cock-eyed looks of derision, here are a few of the arguments against your dietary decisions:
While there are benefits to a vegetarian diet, there are disadvantages too. Clinical studies purport that vegetarians suffer from a lack of vitamin B12, which is important for cell growth and the formation of blood cells. In addition, vegetarians may receive an insufficient intake of calcium and vitamin D, which can lead to the reduction of bone tissue and bone mineral density.
Vegetarians also don’t get the necessary omega-3 fatty acids, which are important for visual and neurological development in infants; may lower triglyceride levels (high levels can lead to heart disease); improve the efficacy of anti-inflammatories, and help lower levels of depression.
2. The Environment
Meat production does harm the environment, but vegetarians aren’t off the hook on this one either. The cultivation of fruit and vegetables can be harmful since many farms still make use of pesticides and insecticides that leak into water supplies, causing harm to both humans and animals. Farming vegetables also requires a great deal of water, which can lead to shortages and drought; while the burning of agricultural waste contributes to the Earth’s air pollution.
Furthermore, as an agricultural example, in Australia wheat, rice and pulse agriculture calls for cutting down native vegetation, leading to the deaths of thousand of animals.
Food is an intrinsic part of culture. Cuisine and the way we consume it varies from country to country, and if you’re a keen traveller, you may come across unfamiliar culinary customs. In certain African homes, for example, turning down a meal (which often includes meat) is considered an insult; thus when encountering new customs and cultures, you may need to check your prejudice at the door.
4. Animal Love
Want to save wildlife and protect the planet? Become a conservationist. I rarely come across vegetarian conservationists – they’re so rare, that the term is practically an oxymoron. And while we’re on the subject, here’s a tongue-in-cheek tidbit from David Attenborough about what a plant-based diet will do to you:
5. Animal Hate
Some vegetarians wax lyrical about all life being equal, and I can go along with that. What I can’t go along with is placing animal life above humanity, or treating animals as if they have no vices. I don’t condone the inhumane treatment of animals, but it’s certainly not a beaviour that is exclusive to human beings.
Saltwater and Nile crocodiles are fast and frightening predators who will not think twice about their meal. The Saltwater has a vicious and versatile diet that includes tapirs, monkeys, kangaroos, jackals, orangutans, water buffalo, turtles, dugongs and humans. The Nile’s diet is just as versatile, and they’ve even been known to chomp down on threatened species such as African wild dogs and cheetahs, as well as not-so-threatened species such as humans.
In the ocean, you have leopard seals, who merrily club penguins to death for their main meal. Piss them off, and they’ll do the same to you. In the air there are cattle egrets, who kill infant siblings while their parents are away by chucking fellow siblings out the nest in a bid to get all the food their parents bring home.
We could weave further strands of biology, culture and mortality into the argument, and it could continue without end. Ultimately, it’s a choice and neither side should judge the other.
However, in conclusion I must, as is my wont, leave you with sage advice from a film clip offering insight into the moral profundity of why it’s natural that certain animals (including us) eat meat:
Originally published on Dinner and a Movie.
Follow me @ClaudiaHauter