Yesterday, we started rolling out the results of our contest, “Calling All Herbivores: Tell Us Why It’s Unethical to Eat Meat.” Today we are publishing the fantastic essay of our second of four runners-up (followed by the winner, whose essay will be published this Friday). Remember, the runners-up are listed in no particular order. Today’s essay is by Joanna Strittmatter.
by Joanna Strittmatter
“It sounds like propaganda.”
I raised an eyebrow at such a statement. It’s not as if I had just been selling the idea of going to war. In fact, I had not been selling anything. Turning down meat products is an easy way to stick out as a vegetarian. And as a vegetarian, the burden of explaining yourself seems to meet you around every corner. I always attempt to keep responses as short as possible, in the hopes of having an enjoyable night out while leaving heavier discussions for a more appropriate time. But this time I was caught off guard. While giving my general response of health and personal values, I was intrigued by the accusation of my reasoning behind not eating meat as being propaganda.
For one to truly raise the question of ethics regarding a socially accepted and commonly practiced activity, it must be clearly stated as to what the issue really is. Although it is not the only problem, this essay addresses the ethics involved in consuming meat because it is customary and seemingly enjoyable. The fact is, in our country, meat is not a necessity in order to preserve life. It is simply a profit-driven industry and an extravagance that humans are unwilling to live without, regardless of its effects on health, environment and the livelihood of conscious creatures.
While this sounds like so many other industries in the world, the subject at hand is the ethics of consuming meat. Moral principles must be considered when any thought is given to the process of bringing meat to your plate. By simply researching the subject, it is easy to realize that the meat and dairy production industries are cruel. One could research veal production, foie gras, humane-slaughter regulations for poultry (non-existent), the de-horning process for cows, gestation crates for pigs, the cruel confinement of battery hens, and countless more subpar standards that are a sad reflection of man’s superiority. If evolution or man’s ascribed status in the food chain is the culprit behind these acts, then perhaps it is prudent to consider that something may have gone awry in nature.
Arguments made for the necessity of meat in our culture are ill founded. Converting over to a vegetation-based diet has proven again and again to improve general health, reduce risks of disease, improve symptoms of existing ailments, and with an appropriately balanced plan, lead to a healthier community. The China Study provides a strong correlation between diet and disease by documenting the relationship between a vegetation-based diet and lower rates of various cancers and degenerative heart diseases.
In addition to health issues, meat consumption affects many global, social and economical factions as well. Between the methane gas output assisting in the destruction of the ozone layer, the rainforests that are being torn down to provide land for grazing cows abroad and the large amounts of grain fed to cows to produce small amounts of meat, animal agribusiness proves time and again that the driving force is in the almighty dollar.
If this still “sounds like propaganda,” I encourage everyone to research the topic at hand. The notion that “it tastes good” or “we were made to eat meat” can no longer be accepted. The burden of education falls on humans and should be exercised in all aspects of life. If it is preferable to not know how your dinner makes it to your plate then it begs the obvious realization that it shouldn’t be there.
The real question then becomes whether or not it is ethical to keep looking away.