A close friend asked me a question that I now realize is central to the miscommunication between vegetarians and omnivores. He asked me if I would eat an animal raised on an ‘old-school’ grass farm like that described in the book “Omnivore’s Dilemma” by Michael Pollan. I responded that although I personally would not eat it because I know I don’t need to and I see no reason to kill needlessly, I am not opposed to the killing and eating of these humanely treated animals. What? Yes, you heard me right:
I am a vegan and I am not opposed to eating meat.
No this isn’t an oxymoron, and no it isn’t rare. It is not meat eating that most vegetarians and vegans are opposed to, but the inhumane treatment of animals while they are alive. I am not opposed to the killing of animals (everyone’s gotta die, right? And it’s rarely pleasant), I’m opposed to infliction of unnecessary suffering. I do in fact support grass farms where animals get to live out lives free from intensive confinement, constant pain, suffering, abuse and neglect before they are killed and eaten.
Why, then, am I a vegetarian?
Unfortunately, 98-99% of the meat in this country is produced through factory farming (Peter Singer, “The Ethics of What We Eat”), so ‘humane’ alternatives are very difficult to find. Truly humane meat is almost impossible to find. Labels such as “free range” “humane certified” “organic” etc. are deceiving and in reality mean very little. “Organic” meat and dairy, for example, often comes from animals that suffer more than non-organic animals, because they are kept in the same conditions but are not given antibiotics and treatment that the others are provided. Ultimately, unless I raised the animals myself or visited the farms I purchased meat from, I could not trust that the animals were humanely raised.
For anyone interested in this subject, I highly recommend the book “The Ethics of What We Eat” by Peter Singer. It’s an eye opener about the meat industry and its relation with this country. It is an incredibly well researched book, and sheds light on the practices and the labels (“free range” “humane certified” “organic” etc.) without being preachy.
“Great Cheese Comes From Happy Cows”
Do you really believe that?