- Pages: 13
- Word count: 3013
- Category: Vegetarianism
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The moral argument of animal rights has been discussed for decades. There are many types of cruelty to animals, including vivisection and animal testing, eating meat, hunting and farming. Campaigners risk their lives to protect animals, but some people are totally opposed to the idea of rights for them. Should we eat white meat and not red? Should we stop breeding animals for food? The fact is that although more than 25% of the British population doesn’t think eating meat is safe or healthy, only 4. 5% actually avoid it. The arguments for vegetarianism include cruelty, health matters and taste.
But there are almost as many good arguments against it for the same type of reasons. This essay will weigh up the various disputes over vegetarianism, concluding with my personal opinion. What is vegetarianism? The dictionary definition is someone who doesn’t eat meat. But this is not the case with over 24% of the Great British citizens belonging to vegetarian groups. Many call themselves a “veggie” but eat poultry, seafood and use animal based or tested products. Some vegetarians choose fish burgers at fast food outlets as a meat-free option.
Such people will claim not to eat meat for whatever reason, then perfectly happily devour a McChicken Sandwich with added Barbecue Sauce (containing gelatine – animal fat). One particular word that could be used to describe these people is hypocritical. Why do they eat one meat and not another? It is a fact that chickens are the worst treated out of all farmed animals, especially battery hens bred for eggs. If the reason is because they do not like the taste of some meats, then they cannot be titles vegetarians.
This point aside, there are a handful (4%) of vegetarians that do abide by all the “rules”. These are generally called vegans, and do not use any animals related products. This includes leather, milk and obviously meat. Avoiding meat is a lot harder than one may think. Many types of pasta, for instance, contain egg which is from a chicken. All dairy produce derives from animal milk, meaning they cannot, or will not, eat yoghurt, cheese or butter. But doesn’t this just inconvenience themselves as well as others?
Apparently not. “Most people become vegetarian because they believe it is wrong to slaughter animals. ” – The Vegetarian Society. This is a true point, most people believe it is not at all acceptable to kill an animal for food. But they believe it is right to slaughter an animal to find a cure for disease, or to kill an animal for its skin. What I am trying to say is, if you are going to not eat meat for one reason then you might as well at least think of another reason. Animals used in laboratories are worse kept than any farm animal, so why do they believe this is right?
Because it is not directly affecting the people. They see meat in shops, and think of the animals being slaughtered. But when they see a cured person walk out of a hospital, or they find their headache has stopped after taking aspirin, they do not see a mouse with growths on its legs dead in a bin. I am trying to say that there is no point in just not eating meat, this is not going to help stop cruelty to animals.
In fact, vegetarians alone are not doing any good at all. As Carla Lane, a writer and animal welfare campaigner, said, “It’s no good crying out against the [calf export] trade if you are going to have milk. She is a vegetarian. Many communities live on meat. The Massai tribe of Africa is a good example of this, as in drought seasons they thrive on every part of the cow. After milking, the cow is slaughtered, then the tribe eat the meat and use the milk and blood together as a beverage. The bones are used to build structures and houses.
They seem to find nothing wrong with this; the word “barbaric” does not enter their minds as this is their only means of food, especially if the crops are not growing well. The cow is considered sacred in these parts of Africa, but still eaten. 2% of the British population eat meat more than five times a week, according to a 1998 poll. This means that although some people will refuse to eat meat, the traditional approach to “Meat and two veg” is still kept up in most households.
In the same poll, 86% of people still have the custom Sunday dinner with chicken, lamb or beef. If vegetarian campaigners were to have their own way and stop the world from eating meat, not only would many people starve, but a considerable amount of workers would go out of business: Butchers shops are found on many a high street.
This traditional method of buying meat is preferred by lots of people who believe that the best cuts of meat available are from an independent business. This is probably true, as many supermarkets have now branched out and include meat counters. The meat is generally mass produced from abattoirs, and each piece is not always taken so much care over to ensure the best quality. If all the butchers shops and counters were closed down, every single worker and skilled slaughterer would be out of a job. Abattoirs are huge warehouses that slaughter and treat meat before it is sent to a butcher.
Even smaller abattoirs have at least 24 workers each. Farmers are the other large group of people that would lose jobs or even businesses. Many make their livings from selling eggs, milk, cheese and skins from their livestock, and selling the actual animals at markets and fairs. The stoppage of meat eating might even put some EHO’s out of a job if they didn’t have enough food complaints about meat and animal products. The promotion of vegetarianism in the media is more than expected after research. There are over 200 national organisations which campaign for animal rights, and numerous international groups.
These are publicised by the media and supported by a number of celebrities. Celebrities with strong opinions cleverly make use of the fact that the press hang on to every word they say. Vegetarian celebrities make the most of their fame and try to convert others by preaching about their ideas. This is, in a way, negative as many meat eating parents may have children who look up to these personalities and want to be like them. Paul, Linda and Stella McCartney, Mark Owen and Tony Blackburn are all popular vegetarian icons.
Their faces are plastered all over the front of every vegetarian magazine in the country. I cannot see how this helps the animals but they get paid a lot. An amusing aspect was included in resources sent to me from The Vegetarian Society, stressing the point in a child-friendly leaflet that the Teletubbies were vegetarian. It brings to mind four coloured creatures dancing and singing, “Tubby-Tofu. ” They must have been desperate for names if they included fictional characters from an early morning infantile television show. It is basically becoming fashionable to not eat meat.
There are no popstars or TV personalities that are actively working against vegetarians. Every single resource that I have been sent from vegetarian societies and organisations has been promoting vegetarianism in a good light. After numerous searches through post and internet, I have found that there is not one group actively working AGAINST vegetarianism. If there is then they have not promoted themselves very well because I haven’t found them. It seems that there are so many arguments against the consuming of meat that nobody has the heart to argue for it.
I, Katherine E Mann, have decided to try and prove these people wrong. I have come to a conclusion that for every opinion in the world, there must be one against it, no matter how wrong or politically incorrect it may be. The arguments for vegetarianism are interesting, as many leaflets offer practical help for vegetarian dieting instead of trying to convince people how right they are. The BSE scare has put more people than ever off eating meat. It isn’t just beef that some people have been avoiding, it’s other meats as well. They call this, “A precaution. ” Why?
I ask. There had been traces of BSE in very few lambs, but that’s no reason to stop eating meat altogether. I found many quotes whilst studying this topic, both for and against vegetarianism. There were over 40% more quotes urging me to stop eating meat though. One particular point against vegetarianism that was put over was: “I am at a loss to see how vegetarians would maintain their food supplies without the millions of tons of shit produced by the overwintering of beasts. ” – Alan Owen. Mr Owen is a part time farmer, so he knows what he is talking about.
It is a good point, that if we do stop breeding so many animals for meat, there will not be so much manure to nurture the crops which the vegetarians would eat. So, by not breeding the animals, we are stunting the growth of millions of plants which vegetarians would in turn want to eat. But what does a vegetarian have to offer to contradict this? “We can keep the animals, but just not breed them for food. ” But then, surely, wouldn’t the world be over populated with animals? Britain itself is very crowded, it would make it ten times worse to keep every animal we bred.
We would have to find somewhere to put them all. “But you find somewhere to put all the people,” says the vegetarian. We don’t though, not all of them. If she were to go homeless now, I suggest, wouldn’t she prefer to have a house built for her by the council instead of having to live on the streets because there were animals on all the land they could possibly build on? The vegetarian goes quiet. I have found that this point wins the argument for this particular part of the discussion. Another argument is that it takes half as much land to grow crops for vegetarians than it does to keep animals.
Two points contradict this: Firstly, where would all the animals be kept whilst still alive and not being bred? Secondly, once all the land was used for growing crops for vegetarians, there wouldn’t be enough of it. Especially if everyone in the world stopped eating meat, there would be more than 150% of the land in use if possible. But this isn’t possible. Following the discussion with The Vegetarian (she isn’t meant to sound like an alien), I have decided to examine meat eaters opinions of vegetarians, and vegetarians opinions of meat eaters.
Vegetarians generally don’t see eye to eye with meat eaters on this topic. They do have more arguments, the word moral being frequently used. But are they necessarily right? Obviously, the meat eaters say “No,” and the vegetarians say, “Yes. ” Vegetarians often see people that eat meat as people that would gladly kill an animal, have no conscience, dislike animals apart from for food, and barbaric. However, only very few meat eaters are actually like this. I have never met one. They do not generally like the idea of killing an animal, they do care about it and most usually like animals.
But the vegetarians say that if they do care, why do they eat meat? Well… it tastes good, humans have been eating it for millenniums, it is widely available, it is a healthy part of a staple diet… But a meat eaters opinion of a vegetarian is usually one of two things. Firstly, a very thin person who does not eat any meat at all and every meal time consists of a carrot. Secondly, a person who will only eat the vegetarian option if they decide not to like the normal option. They will eat some meat, and eat meat if it’s the only thing available. Hypocrites?
But they are not necessarily hypocrites, they just have opinions. If they chose not to eat meat, why shouldn’t they? People chose to wear different clothes and worship different gods. This is OK for most people, they understand it. But when meat eaters start to dislike it is when the vegetarians call them cannibals, or barbarians. If it inconveniences people organising buffets or meals, then that is where it can get annoying. How would you like it if nobody had mentioned to you that a guest to your party was vegetarian and you were having a pure meat barbecue?
Fortunately, many people ask if their guests have special dietary requirements nowadays. But still, why should we cook special foods for them? If most people are eating one thing, why can’t they just go with the flow and join in? They can go back to vegetarianism the next day. If a family of four had bought a box of four lamb chops and one person was vegetarian, what would happen? I commented on this to someone, who kindly put it into practice. The vegetarian wouldn’t eat the meat, but there was still a chop left. This chop couldn’t be eaten by the other people because they had their own, so it was just thrown away.
If it was going to be thrown out, they could have eaten it anyway. No difference made. The vegetarian claimed it was against her rights. Is the vegetarian option more healthy than meat? Most research shows, yes it is healthier. This is where the vegetarians point and laugh, and the meat eaters kick themselves. Meat is a valuable source of protein. But, a vegetarian diet can reduce levels of cholesterol, plus keep up levels of protein and iron. A point put across in a Viva! Leaflet was that vegetarians were no more likely to suffer anaemia than meat eaters. So?
We wouldn’t expect them to. The page also stated that zinc levels are ‘normal’ in vegetarians. Nobody would even dream of thinking otherwise if they had any idea of becoming a vegetarian, or they shouldn’t bother. It is a scientific fact that vegetarians are half as likely to suffer from cancer, hypertension (high blood pressure), diabetes and strokes. There is no argument against this. The same leaflet also pointed out that 95% of all food poisoning comes from animal and meat products. According to Pauline Kirby, an EHO from Sutton Council, the figures most probably aren’t that high.
Many of the cases are actually from animal products like eggs, but all are because the people preparing the food don’t work hygienically enough. If people could be bothered to cook their foods properly then there would be no cases of food poisoning from meat products. Saying this though, the world as a whole is getting lazier when it comes to food. The vast range of ready cooked meals in supermarkets is a good example of this. Many people just do not have the time to cook themselves a meal every night, and meat needs slightly more preparation than other foods as it is very high risk.
People say that vegetarians find it easier to cook using no meat. I can verify that this is not always true, after extensive research. I have watched a vegan prepare tofu and cannot see how this is simpler than meat. Tofu is, admittedly, a lower risk food than any meat, but when treated and cooked properly with no extra effort meat is perfectly fine. Tofu. Most people have heard of it, but how many know what it is? After a brief questionnaire around my classmates at school, 9 out of 46 people knew what it actually was.
Most people knew that it was a vegetarian alternative to some foods, but 6 of the 9 people that knew were actually vegetarians themselves. I have found that tofu was invented in Japan and quickly spread to the rest of the world. It is vegetable protein, and hardly contains any fat at all. The good point about meat is that it looks reasonable even when it’s not dressed up or with anything. Most people love the look and smell of freshly cooked meat and it is universally recognised. Tofu, on the other hand, needs lots of preparation for it to appeal.
Apparently the taste on its own is disgusting, but there are numerous books and websites of recipes for tofu. It can be fried, stewed, marinated, anything the consumer wants. When I asked for an opinion from a strict vegetarian on what tofu looked like, it was compared to, “A soggy sponge. ” Would you like to eat something that looked like a soggy sponge for your dinner? This description says it all. I have taken the liberty of including a picture of some tofu (pictures are surprisingly hard to come by) and a picture of a sponge to illustrate my point:
From all these points and views, reasons and arguments put together, I have concluded that there are so many arguments for and against vegetarianism that most people find it easy to choose a side. Most people choose to be for it, but still eat meat. Personally, I like eating meat and am not considering stopping for the sake of the Teletubbies, hysterical animal rights activists and cute little furry creatures with “hearts and feelings. ” I find the fact that vegetarians lecture people about eating meat when most of them have been cruel in another way to someone or something else dull and rambling.
Humans have been eating meat for thousands of years – why stop now? It would only break traditions. I know we don’t need to eat meat anymore because of all the alternatives, but then again we don’t need to buy designer clothes when car boot sales sell old ones. But we do. Why don’t we eat cats or dogs? It would be an interesting concept. As for changes my opinions as a result of this project, it has only made my feelings stronger towards meat eating. Whilst petting my cat I am now going to eat a steak.