This post comes delayed from its original set date mostly due to school work again, and for that I apologize. I’ve also been playing around with the style of this blog and its format, and have been considering some possible changes to make the site more visually appealing and navigable. However, I did intend to write this out before, so it does need to be said. I am not a vegetarian, nor do I think I ever will be. I also oppose vegetarianism on various grounds. For some reason, this seems to be an “oddity,” for a leftist to not be or at least support vegetarianism. But here, I intend to explain why, and likely gain the ire of my fellow leftist colleagues along the way. But I’m willing to take those blows for now.
First, I must qualify my argument. I do not absolutely oppose all vegetarianism. If you are not eating meat strictly for religious reasons (if you are, say, Hindu) then I do accept that and would not argue against such a practice. If vegetarianism is somehow a part of your culture or traditions, I will not keep you from practicing vegetarianism in that case either. In fact, I’d be very much interested in learning about such a culture that I have not heard of before. I also am in favor of bettering our treatment towards animals, specifically those which we eat most like chickens and cows. We should not line chickens up in cages and give them hormones and do all sorts of horrible and immoral things in order to gain profit or create a more “appealing” product. I also believe we should not excessively hunt any animals, and that hunting should be primarily for sustenance rather than for sport. If you kill a deer in the woods, you should eat it, whether you very much want to or not. You should also be using as much of the dead body as you can; waste not want not, and all that jazz. We should not be killing endangered animals as well.
However, if you are simply vegetarian because you don’t want animals dying so you can eat, I don’t condone that. Let’s start with the facts, shall we?
Animals have populations in the wild which are hopefully in a stable size. In order for such a stable size to be maintained, there must be a food source which also must remain stable. There must be a birth rate which combats the rate of death and predation, but does not cause excessive growth of that animal’s population. However, human intervention or the lack thereof in certain animal populations can very drastically help or harm said population, and this cannot be avoided due to the extreme amount of space which humans have occupied at this point in history. Take, for example, the deer population around Maryland. Here, there are so many deer it often seems ridiculous, and they have become monstrously overpopulated. On the surface, it sounds like a good thing for an animal’s population to be high and rising, but the opposite is true. Overpopulation often leads to severe competition among a species for resources, leaving many animals to starve and die in horrid conditions. There are many of these animals starving and suffering because of this overpopulation.
Now let’s say that we stop eating cows and chickens. These populations are already enormous due to our breeding of them, and so removing them from our diets would also end the only source of predation for both of these groups. We would instantly see overpopulation and starvation, making the quick deaths we see on the farm seem gentle compared to the suffering a starving cow will go through for days on end before it dies. This provides us with a good reason for not cutting meat out of our diets quickly; by doing so, we would be doing the animals we are trying to help a huge disservice, and would thereby be treating them even more poorly than we currently do. If we ever had to absolutely cut out meat from our diets, it would likely take a very long time and would not be a very cost effective process, and would also be met with fiery resistance. All in all, the effort put into saving these animals would not be worth our time and would likely endanger their populations in the process. Animal populations follow a graph very similar to an economy; if the population retains a steady process of growth and death, it will remain safe. However, if the population explodes in growth too quickly, it will crash and burn in a very unhealthy fashion.
Now, in the case of hunting animals, some things are quite different. Hunting for deer is not quite as widespread as is the butchering of cows, so I have to treat the situation differently. I’ll be taking deer hunting in Maryland as my example once more. As I stated earlier, the deer population in Maryland is simply enormous for the state’s relatively small size, and as such a set of hunting regulations are in place for hunting these deer. As one can see, there is no limit to exactly how many deer may be taken per day, as long as they are in season and the hunting occurs during permitted hours. The main reason why Maryland has so many deer is because the state used to regulate hunting more strictly, and eventually the deer population exploded years ago. As such, these regulations were dropped in order to better control the population and prevent the rampant spread of disease among the deer. However, there are simply not enough hunters to bring the deer population down to its original levels, and while starvation among the deer has been mostly conquered through hunting, I doubt that it doesn’t happen anymore. I’m sure you can see my point by now, in that hunting can prevent populations of certain animals which are prone to excessive growth from exploding and damaging the species as a whole. While hunting may not be the entire solution to such problems, it is an important part of it. And lastly, to hunt these animals and then not eat them would be entirely wasteful; plus, there would be far more deer corpses for people to deal with.
And now, we come to the secondary portion of my argument, which is more grounded in my political leanings and my treatment of other cultures. Being vegetarian, at least in a first-world country simply because you don’t want to hurt animals, is a very privileged thing to do. Let me explain. In many parts of the world, like the Amazon Basin for example, meat is very much a part of the culture that has not changed for a long part of history. Let’s say you, a vegetarian, decides to visit said region and are offered a meal which contains meat by your Brazilian hosts. If you deny the offering on the basis of “I don’t eat meat,” well that is frankly like slapping your hosts in the face. Not only are you turning down their generosity without a good explanation from their point of view, but you are also essentially telling them that their culture is a barbaric one and you are superior to them.
“But what if I never go to a place where meat is the culture?” I’m sure some of you are asking that. You might not be insulting people straight to their faces, but you are still indirectly making a mockery of how many people choose to live their lives. You are also making a mockery of how many people are forced to live their lives. In many countries, meat in the diet is not just a part of the culture, but it is a necessity. It is often the case that without meat, significant portions of the human population could not survive or prosper at all. I am certain that a starving man will not turn down a burger because it is “cruel” or “immoral.” He will scarf it down hungrily, and thank you with all of his heart. Do you know why? Because that man does not have the privilege of choice in his diet, and therein lies my most direct qualm with vegetarianism. Choosing to cut meat from your diet, choosing to say “I can do this, so I will,” is a very improper thing to do that can be seen as very insulting. Most vegetarians and vegans live in countries where the ability to cut meat out of your diet is easy. America, for example, is a fairly rich country with tons of food options beyond meat that won’t cost much. It is comparatively easy to be a vegetarian here than, say, in Ethiopia. Just because you can be a vegetarian without drastically changing your life, does not mean you should. And just because you provide a righteous justification for your means, those means do not justify your ends. By becoming a vegetarian or vegan, you are shoving your lifestyle into the face of others and declaring it to be the superior way of life. I don’t know about you, but I’d rather not be looked upon with severe ire by many of my fellows.
That is all for this two-part post, and I hope I’ve made my explanation concise for all of you. Once again, I encourage comments here to provide feedback for me. I am available through my email at firstname.lastname@example.org, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and Steam. Good night, and this is KnoFear, signing off.