It’s crazy what this world can get away with making you feel guilty about. If you let them. For a pescatarian like myself, on my way to denounce meat completely, I’ve spent less time in promoting my good health, and probably more time feeling helpless under unwarranted attacks! From the meat-arians of course. Clearly, killing my favourite animals was not good enough, but now they feel the need to attack my views and beliefs too, with absolute disregard.
National Geographic’s Top 10 National Dishes and Time magazine’s Best Restaurants in the world are both heavily dominated with ham/prosciutto and of course, wine. And if you were to say to the large portion of the Western world, you have never eaten a hamburger in your life – I can only imagine sheer disbelief! They are bound to tell you that you are missing out on the finer things in life. But if the conversation was directed at a Muslim, on both accounts of ham and wine, how do you think it would be received?
Ham, pork and bacon are things considered worth missing by practising Muslims around the world. The same applies for meat and strict Hindus. Somehow religious opinions are more acceptable and let go off to avoid the obvious controversy of the conversation, but not any other set of beliefs, that are perhaps more individualistic.
Neither my religious identity nor any other part of the hybrid me have come under as intense a scrutiny as when I quietly decline meat at a dinner table. I have to be fair that a lot of people have been kinder and more polite, and have engaged in a discussion about whether it’s due to my religious beliefs or my animal friendly outlook. Some have even gone as far as to ask whether it was to reduce the carbon footprint on the planet. I’ve been impressed and have participated. But those conversations have been the slim minority. Majority of the people resorts to attacking with, “But plants have lives too you know..”. Today, I want to address those “concerns”. Those very “considerate” and “respectful” concerns.
- Have you ever seen a plant scream, cry, protest and eventually bleed to death to make it to your plate?
Probably not. But even so, let me ignore the fact that you only use this defence to somehow justify to your heart and mind any ounce of discomfort that eating meat brings to your conscience. And let me assume that for argument’s sake, you are in fact a plant-lover. Fifty-six million acres of arable land are dedicated to growing hay for livestock production, whereas only four million acres are used to grow fruits and vegetables for people, in the United States alone. According to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, the amount of grain fed to livestock in the U.S. alone could feed about 840 million people, roughly eleven times the number of people who die of starvation every year.
“If one is legitimately concerned with mitigating the amount of suffering in the world, then there is simply no way to justify eating meat, especially if one believes that plants also suffer.”
That killing and eating animals causes them to suffer is undeniable. That eating plants also causes them to suffer is a proposition, not as clearly demonstrated. As far as I know no reputable study has ever shown that plants can “feel pain”. They lack the nervous system and brain necessary for this to happen. A plant can respond to stimuli, for example by turning towards the light or closing over a fly, but that is not the same thing.
But these are data that I present for argument’s sake. My point is by trying to prove plants have feelings is an illogical way to justify eating animals. You have all the more reason to reduce your meat intake, if you are really in love with plants.
- Am I overly emotional and unrealistic because I love animals?
This section is fonder to me than the previous because it talks less about scientific facts and more about emotions. Emotions, which I believe should be given a much more rational status than currently accredited.
I know most people are in the habit of making fun of things they don’t understand. I am 99% sure that the people who freely mocks me when I decline meat, and expects me to find humour in that conversation, will perhaps not take it lightly at all if I offer them pork to eat. Because most of these people I’ve come across came from a similar religious background. But in hindsight, I realise it has nothing to do with religion or culture. It has more to do with grappling the unknown.
I am not in the habit of taking offence from people I love, so this is not entirely a rant. But it’s sad that people might find it funny or abnormal that the idea of killing and taking life of a sentient being, makes me sad. Shouldn’t the reverse be more commonplace? The fact that the greed of my taste buds have less priority in my life compared to the lives of many, somehow seems more rational to me. How this makes me a “sissy” or a “loser” is beyond my understanding.
- Have you ever bothered to read up on why after knowing it’s bad for your health, you continue to make meat your main?
Last year, a $1.25 trillion coalition of investors has urged global food companies to reduce over-reliance on meat by sourcing more plant-based proteins. The reason meat has made it as a main, while salad remains a side dish, is because it is in the profit of giant food industries to culturally keep it that way. Over the years, unless prohibited and rejected by the religious population, the culture of meat-eating has been promoted as the norm by people who financially benefit from it.
Apart from that, livestock production is responsible for 14.5% of all man-made greenhouse gas emissions, which is more than the transport sector! Did you know Denmark is considering a meat tax to curb meat consumption, and China’s health agency has urged citizens to reduce meat consumption by 50%?
All the health and environmental concerns aside, tell me again, why you feel you have the right to attack the “abnormality” in my refusing to bleed a walking/feeling creature to death to appease my tastebuds, and I have no right to feel offended? What should be a more natural, a more humane reaction to your jokes? I think as a responsible citizen of the world, we owe a civic duty to question everything based on how it makes us feel. Sometimes, when we feel something is wrong, it doesn’t have to be scientifically proven to be admissible as a reason to do or not do.
Sorry but I’m not sorry.