I’m sick and tired of vegetarians thinking they are somehow doing animals a favor by not eating their flesh. Now I’ve got no beef, pun intended, with vegans. You’ve got to respect people who are able to abstain from all animal products, and as long as they can do it in a healthy manner, I see it as a positive way to fully and truly avoid the cruelties of commercial animal production. For that matter, I have no problem with people becoming vegetarians because of personal preference, health, or environmental concerns. While I do think that meat production done right can in many instances help the environment,* and that meat is very healthy when consumed as part of a balanced diet,* I can still respect people choosing to abstain from it for legitimate considerations. What I absolutely cannot stand is when someone becomes a vegetarian because of animal welfare. The fantasy that simply going veg helps animals is a lie, it hurts animals, it harms society, and I will not keep quiet about it any longer.
My biggest problem with the vegetarian movement is that people use it to escape from responsibility. Individuals stop eating meat and think that suddenly they don’t need to worry about any of the animal products they eat. Let’s take egg-laying hens as an example. Egg layers are probably the worst treated animals in the world. They are kept in cages where they can’t spread their wings or turn around and regularly go insane from these excruciating living conditions.* Even so called organic, cage-free and free range hens almost always live in massively overcrowded barns,* undergo painful beak trimming, and are all eventually killed using horribly inhumane methods. That’s right, every egg you eat came from a chicken that will one day be killed and eaten. Another fun fact is that for every hen in existence, there was once a baby male chick that was killed when he was only a day old because farmers had no use for him. The egg industry has deeply imbedded and systemic problems that cause horrendous animal welfare issues, but instead of the people who supposedly care about animal welfare really trying to do something about it, they just stop eating meat and pick up an extra dozen eggs at Safeway or Whole Foods instead.
Even if you eat eggs from a farm with the best animal welfare around, you still need to come to terms with the fact that killing is part of the system. Farm animals did not come from a magical world with no predators and where populations could go unchecked. The way we raise animals must mimic their wild roots. Just as birds living in the wild had predators that culled their flocks of weak animals, so too must we act as this force when breeding poultry. Just as chickens’ ancestors had external factors to control their numbers in the wild, in farming we must control their population. If we do not take on this role, then animal agriculture will not only become prohibitively expensive, it will also become environmentally unsustainable.
If you are a vegetarian, instead of complaining about meat eating try to focus on buying the best eggs and dairy available instead. A great way to find these ethical animal products is in the resources section of my blog. The vegetarian lie is that if one simply stops eating flesh then death goes away and we can wash our hands of all responsibility. This lie hurts animals, it hurts society, and we must not keep quiet about it any longer. To create change, we need to stop focusing on what we don’t eat and start focusing on the things we do consume.
About the blog:
Welcome to The Kosher Omnivore's Quest! My old blog on kosher slaughter, kosher meat, and animal welfare. For new content check out my new website, The Kosher Cut™. There you'll find: blog posts about shechita and related topics, educational slaughter presentations, kosher slaughter training, and a selection of high quality professional kosher slaughter equipment.