A Little Bit of Everything

Okay, I’ll explain the ‘don’t’ part first because it’s easier to explain.  I do not judge people based on any particular trait such as race, gender, sexual orientation.  Choosing to be a vegetarian falls under that umbrella.  I just don’t see how anything like that could have anything to do with their personality.  It’s trivial in light of actually talking to and getting to know them.

Now that that’s covered, I’ll explain the reasons why I don’t agree with vegetarianism.  In relation to what I mentioned above, I normally wouldn’t bring this up unless somebody was trying to guilt me into becoming a vegetarian, but hey this is a blog and blogs are for opinions, right?

I strongly believe that any and all possible arguments that a vegetarian can make can be refuted with three words.  We are omnivores.  However, since that’s not enough for most people, I will go on.  In the logical progression from that first idea, if we were able to survive on a diet of only vegetation, we would be herbivores.  That’s the way the world works.  Deal with it (sorry, a little bit of snark aimed at the vegetarians who piss me off by being all holier-than-thou).  Something we learn in high school biology is that nature does not waste time and energy creating something that is not necessary.  So basically, we don’t just have canine teeth and the capability to digest meat, just for the heck of it.  We have those things because meat is necessary for our survival. 

A few more detailed biology facts is that not only is an herbivore’s intestinal tract longer than ours but it usually has multiple stomachs that contain a lot of an enzyme called cellulase.  Cellulase is the enzyme that breaks down cellulose, the main form of carbohydrates found in plants and actually the most abundant form of carbohydrates on earth.  Too bad humans have very little cellulase in their stomachs.  Yep, you heard me, humans have a very hard time getting any energy from plants.  That doesn’t mean plants aren’t good for anything since we DO need nutrients which plants have a lot of but at the end of the day, it’s energy that keeps your body functioning.  Also note that the B12 and iron vitamins that are specifically tailored to plants, are of no use (or little use, in iron’s case) to humans.  I know, I know, we get told that plants like beets give us tons of iron but that’s because they’re absolutely PACKED with iron so that although it’s difficult for us to get iron out of plants, it raises our chances of getting some when there’s lots of iron in the plant.

I also believe strongly that we have a responsability.  As omnivores, we are predators and have an important place in maintaining the balance of a fragile ecosystem.  We keep herbivores in check and if the whole race of humans suddenly stopped eating meat, the balance would definitely be thrown out of whack.  Herbivores would reproduce like mad, there would be less predators because we have killed a lot of them off and eventually the herbivores would eat all the vegetation.  Have you seen how quickly horses can strip a couple acres of its vegetation?  It would not be long until there is no vegetation left.  Then we would all starve.  That’s not an exaggeration; you don’t want to play around with ecosystems.

I would also like to address supplements.  People trying to promote vegetarianism like to talk about how you can just take them to get any nutrients you would normally get from meat.  The thing is, science is advancing every day and it’s very likely that the supplements that are produced today will be proven to be inadequate in a couple months.  How do we know scientists have even discovered all the vitamins that we need?  Why rely on something that could change any moment when you could just eat the correct portion of meat and know that you’re getting the right nutrients in about the right amounts?

Last but not least, why should animals not be eaten and plants should?  They’re living creatures too.  Why don’t we just starve ourselves? After all, that seems to be the only logical progression of vegetarianism.

-Daine

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Comments on: "Why I have a problem with vegetarianism even while I don’t" (4)

  1. utterpretension said:

    As something of a “fledgling” vegetarian who was previously against the logic behind the diet and who has, since “turning” so to speak, been constantly forced to defend his reasons for doing so, I feel inclined to comment on this.

    Appealing to nature is, unfortunately, not a strong argument. I doubt “nature” intended for humans to abuse the environment the way we do. We developed an omnivore’s digestive system by chance of evolution, not because nature wanted to give us carte blanche to dominate other ecosystems to the extent that we do.

    Similarly, to say that we are the only thing upholding a fragile ecosystem by eating meat is a bit ignorant. Humans, dietary habits notwithstanding, are the single most destructive force on the balance of any ecosystem in the world. Our various addictions have stripped the planet of a large part of its natural resources, both flora and fauna. Our excess meat consumption requires us to cut corners and poison both the animals being consumed and ourselves, the consumers. Being as you are a biology major, I’m surprised you didn’t make a comment about that, as well.

    (As an aside, of course if we all as a species “suddenly” stopped or started doing something, we would wreak havoc with delicate balances. If we all decided to “suddenly” eat exclusively chicken, or “suddenly” get all of our paper from maple trees, we would likely cause damage worse than what you are suggesting. Change of that magnitude comes gradually, not overnight.)

    Your supplement argument also doesn’t hold up under its own weight. By the same logic, we could discover that there are vitamins crucial to our life’s longevity that no portion or type of meat will provide in sufficient doses. Now – supplements are not always the most viable way of getting the vitamins that you need, and it is generally better for you to consume foods where the vitamins naturally occur. But to say “why rely on something that could change at any moment” is a bit silly – we as humans rely on a medical science that is constantly developing, improving, and phasing out old practices. Besides, it’s a bottle of supplements, not a lifelong commitment.

    To comment on your last point, and as I briefly touched on before, vegetarianism is largely about reducing one’s impact on the world around us. It’s not about refusing to harm any form of life on the planet – that would be very literally impossible, as it would require us, among many other impossibilities, to somehow not combat bacterial infections within our own body without causing the deaths of our own cells. It is more a conscious refusal to participate in some of the more egregious offenses humanity commits against our planet. Call it pretentious and holier-than-thou if you will; I call it part of self-preservation.

    • Well, on the subject of ‘reducing our impact on nature’, I have to mention that we would probably have just as much of an impact on the earth, if not more by turning to vegeterianism. The land that we use for pastures, we would need to turn into crop fields and then we would probably need to cut more trees down to plant more crop fields. This is because, to get the adequate amount of energy needed for our body to function, we would need to consume copious amounts of grains and potatoes. Although vegetables certainly contain a lot of energy in them, most of that energy is not digestible to humans. This is because the most abundant source of carbohydrates on earth is cellulose. Cellulose is a very complex molecule that can only be broken down by the enzyme cellulase, which is present in large amounts in herbivores’ stomachs and intestines. We, unfortunately, only have VERY trace amounts of it. The only plant carbohydrate we can digest well is starch, which is found primarily in potatos and grains. Meat is very dense in carbohydrates so can give us the amount of energy we would need a large amount of grains for. Other vegetables give us nutrients but no real energy, which is what our cells primarily need to function. So, you see, if humans were to switch to a vegetarian diet, we would need to cover the majority of the earth with crop fields which would most likely mean we would have a bigger impact on the earth than we do now because we would need to cut down more trees and invade more animals’ habitats to do so.

      • utterpretension said:

        I’m not really sure why you’re so convinced of the “vegetarians eat only x” argument. My food choices have just as much variety as yours; the only difference is I don’t count meat among them (with some exceptions; I try not to consume gelatin or cheese with rennet in it, and so on.)

        I can get adequate sustenance from nuts, lentils, chickpeas, milk and cheese, dried fruit, tofu, soy, mushrooms, and so on just as well as from grains, vegetables and potatoes. Thus, we wouldn’t really need to “cover the majority of the earth with crop fields” as you rather humorously suggest; let’s be honest, jumping to bizarre conclusions like that doesn’t do your argument any favours.

        How about researching food methods or soil methods that would allow us to grow food on non-arable land instead of relying on over-produced, over-processed, and toxin-filled industry meat? Or hydroponic gardens? It’s not outside of our reach, and it’s not going to require that we cut down forests and invade habitats (I really don’t know where you got that idea) to do so.

  2. The following is a good article. Don’t mind the title, it was probably just created that way because the person (who has a PHD) who wrote it was tired of taking crap about eating meat.

    http://www.rexano.org/ConservationPages/Vegetarians_Muley_Kay_2010.pdf

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