Why you shouldn't be a vegetarian

Why you shouldn't be a vegetarian

This is a partner article to Why you should be a vegetarian

It is very easy to find reasons to not be a vegetarian if you address some of the more shallow reasons and apparent motives for being vegetarian. For example you shouldn't be a vegetarian if;

You're only doing so to appease friends or family or otherwise.

Their opinion should have nothing to do with your choices

You want to appear superior, in a way, to others.

OK this is a point which will annoy a lot of vegetarians but the simple fact is that as a group vegetarians seems to assume some moral high ground. They almost treat it as a badge of honour and it becomes something which other have to accomodate while they will rarely return the favour. Host a barbecue and invite a vegetarian and it seems you are obliged to make extra effort to cater for them. Go to a vegetarian barbecue and will they return the favour? Of course not they don't give a damn about your preferences, an arrogance that is justified on some spurious basis that vegetarianism is inherently good.

You were frightened into it (ex. because you were afraid to die young or of cancer because some say that's what will happen eating meat).

No. If you give up meat eat nothing but fats food veggie burgers and coca cola you are not going to have a better diet than someone eating wild game and organic beef. The fact that your diet is vegetarian or carnivore has little to do with how healthy or otherwise that diet is.

You want to appear "cool" and "sensitive" with animals.

What is cool about not caring for animals? "Not caring"? yes exactly, imagine a vegetarian world and every animal species currently kept for meat is destroyed. It's not as though every farmer is suddenly going to turn their fields over to vegetables and keep their cows as pets.

Well that's all very clear and is a good reason to dismiss those arguments but surely there are good practical reasons to be a vegetarian? Well, maybe there are but it would be nice if any advocatinf vegetarianism would use them. For example a quick google on the subject "Why you should be a vegetarian" turns up the following list of reasons.

"Avoiding meat is one of the best and simplest ways to cut down your fat consumption. Modern farm animals are deliberately fattened up to increase profits. Eating fatty meat increases your chances of having a heart attack or developing cancer"

Even if true that's a reason so be opposed to some intensive farming techniques, not a reason to be opposed to meat. One might as well argue that wearing shoes is immoral because some companies use cheap labour.

"There are millions of cases of food poisoning recorded every year. The vast majority are caused by eating meat"

Again, even if true, that's an argument against how people cook and handle food, not against the food itself. One might as well argue that all cars should be banned because some people drive badly.

Or perhaps you would prefer the main reasons from the British Vegetarian Society?

"It’s better for animals. Around two million land animals are slaughtered every day in the UK alone, just so that people can eat their flesh."

and yet those animals would never have lived in the first place if they were not being farmed for meat

"It’s more sustainable. Growing grains and pulses to feed to animals is much less efficient than eating them ourselves. The livestock industry uses huge amounts of land, water and fossil fuels"

And arable farming doesn't use huge amounts of land, water and fossil fuels? Sustainable production has far more to do with the methods of production than what is produced.

"It’s a healthy option. A balanced vegetarian diet is one of the healthiest diets around."

Absolutely no objection to that. Of course we do notice that you have not referred to a "vegetarian diet" but a "balanced vegetarian diet", exactly the same argument could be made for a balanced omnivorous diet.

All of which illustrates that a lot of the spurious, but unfortunately common reasons for being vegetarian are just so much nonsense. Are there any positive reasons for retaining a carnivore diet?

Positive reasons to eat meat

It's good for you

If you want a healthy diet you need a balanced diet. Few people, vegetarian or carnivore would disagree with that. However there are a number of proteins and amino acids which are conspicuously absent in a vegetarian diet. Particular examples would be vitamin B12 and folic acid. Now it's true that this is more of a problem for vegan than vegetarian diets because of their refusal to eat even animal by products. There are vegetarian sources of B12, for example full fat cheese, milk and yoghurt. Of course if part of the argument for vegetarianism is a healthy diet then that's stopped you eating those.

It's good for farming

Yes, it's good for farming, particularly organic farming. Part of a typical crop rotation will include a period laid over to pasture. This is not just to fatten the animals set to graze but because they fertilise the ground on which they graze. Even if you never ate the animal you'll still find they have a place in organic crop rotation. Of course if you've got the animals there anyway then why not make use of them for food. That will lower your overall impact as you can use less land for the same food production.

It's good for the environment

There are two reasons for meat production being good for the environment. One is already covered above in th 'farming' bit. A second and more contentious reason is because one source of meat is hunted meats. Hunted meats require no artificial input whatsoever but do require the preservation of a natural environment. If you only want to grow corn then yes you can grub up all those hedgerows and woodlands and turn it over to thousand acre monocultures. If you want the occasional rabbit, pheasant or venison pie then you'd better keep some of the natural environment in tact.

It's bad for chldren

Another contentious one but I'm afraid the evidence is quite clear. Unless you are an astounding nutritionist the chances are that a vegetarian diet will lack something, zinc, iron, B12 etc. This is not generally a major problem for adults but for children it can cause problems. Now these can all be provide through artificial supplements or extremely careful selection or vegetarian foods but the simpler option is the inclusion of meat in the diet.

So you are advocating a carnivoire diet?

Yes but his is not to say that people do not eat too much meat. There is, particularly in the developed world, a tendency to prefer meat rich diets. Diets as rich in meat as people appear to want are generally only possible if people are willing to accept intensive farming and ignore all the problems of a diet which contains an excess of meat. What is needed is a balanced diet including much less meat than we currently eat but of higher quality.

See also : Why you should be a vegetarian