I am not a vegetarian or a vegan. This post is not intended to promote vegetarianism or veganism (or, indeed, meat-eating). Its purpose is to point out that some of the things many meat-eaters say about vegetarians and vegans are really stupid. And they should stop saying them, because they’re embarrassing the rest of us.
Here they are (I’m sure you can think of more):
But other animals eat meat!
The stupidity of this should be obvious. Are other animals good moral examples suddenly? If another animal does something, is it therefore OK to do it? Have you watched how cats mate?
There’s a slightly more sophisticated version of this argument, where it’s pointed out that vegetarians are more concerned with human morality than with actually reducing animals’ suffering. If they were really concerned with the latter, the argument goes, they’d try to stop other animals eating meat too. This is a better argument, but not much. Most meat-eaters tend to agree that torturing small rodents is bad, so they don’t do it and are quick to condemn others who do so. But very few of them form vigilante groups devoted to saving mice from cats. We’ll also note in passing that stopping obligate carnivores like cats from hunting mice and eating meat is itself rather cruel (ooh, a dilemma. Why don’t our brains explode?).
What would you do if you were starving and the only available food was meat?
Well, what would you do if you were starving and the only available food was human being?
If you visit vegetarians/vegans, you have to eat vegetarian/vegan food. If they visit you, you have to make them vegetarian/vegan food!
Curiously the people who make this argument seem more tolerant of friends whose diet is restricted on cultural or religious grounds. Which is rather silly. I’d rather accommodate to life choices that are based on ethical considerations than tradition or old books. In any case, the argument’s stupid. It seems to be trying to imply that non-meat-eaters are being selfish. If anything, it’s the reverse. How many meat-eaters eat meat because they think doing so is ethically preferable to not eating it?
I don’t feel as if I’ve had a proper meal if it didn’t contain meat!
Then your diet probably isn’t very healthy. And you either have little experience of good vegetarian food (plus an impoverished imagination) or you’re very fussy. The problem is all your own.
We evolved to eat meat!
At least this is about us, not other animals. It’s still a bad argument though. We evolved to be able to eat meat. This doesn’t mean we should, or that it’s unhealthy not to. We evolved to do a lot of things we don’t do now.
I don’t understand vegetarians who eat fake meat products. Why don’t they just eat meat?!
This is a bizarrely common question. It’s also a really really stupid one. Weren’t these people paying attention? If someone thinks eating meat is wrong, then they’re right not to eat it. And if they miss the experience of eating meat, then it’s entirely reasonable for them to choose something meat-like to eat. You might as well ask, “I can’t understand people who chew nicotine gum. Why don’t they just smoke a cigarette?!” And anyway, what if you just happen to really like nicotine gum? Seitan is pretty delicious.
That’s it for now. I may think of more. Also look out for upcoming posts on stupid things vegetarians and vegans say. It turns out no one has a monopoly on saying stupid things about diet.