Vegetarian's guide to talking to carnivores

Discussion in 'Science & Society' started by James R, Aug 29, 2011.

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

    Nice article from

    A vegetarian's guide to talking to carnivores
    Wednesday, Aug 24, 2011 13:01 ET
    by David Sirota

    Link to complete article

    Following my recent column about vegetarianism, I received a wave of hate mail from meat eaters. This came as no surprise -- as food has finally become a political issue in America (as it should), some carnivores have become increasingly aggressive toward anyone or any fact that even vaguely prompts them to critically consider their culinary habit.


    Carefully Consider Your Public Explanation Before Speaking

    .... Today, there are three levels of explanation that generally generate three distinct reactions from carnivores on a sliding continuum that runs from completely accepting all the way to belligerently hostile.

    The first -- and safest -- public explanation is personal health. With science telling us that meat eating is linked to heart disease, cancer, obesity, E.coli poisoning, Salmonella poisoning, Mad Cow disease and other such ailments, this rationale is the one that's most easily accepted by angry carnivores because it doesn't imply judgment. It allows meat eaters to rationalize their flesh consuming fetish by telling themselves that what may not be healthy for you is perfectly healthy for them. It probably isn't, of course, especially if the meat eater you are talking to is an average American consuming the typical (and unfathomably huge) 194 pounds of flesh a year. But that's beside the point.

    The second public explanation you can offer is environmentalism. Again, the science is clear and overwhelming.

    Meat protein takes an obscene amount of energy to produce compared with vegetable protein. As Cornell University reports, "Animal protein production requires more than eight times as much fossil-fuel energy than production of plant protein while yielding animal protein that is only 1.4 times more nutritious for humans than the comparable amount of plant protein." Meanwhile, meat production generates huge amounts of toxic waste (Google "hog farm" and "lagoon" for a taste). This is why the United Nations has called the meat industry -- and therefore, meat eating -- "one of the ... most significant contributors to the most serious environmental problems, at every scale from local to global."

    However, with the environmental rationale, you are likely to get at least some vitriol from carnivores because it does imply a level of judgment. When you say you are a vegetarian because you want to do right by the planet, it implies that the person across the table who is happily shoving that bloody steak down his throat doesn't really care about the environment.

    The third public explanation you can use (and the one I use because I feel so strongly about it) is morality -- but beware: This is almost guaranteed to get you screamed at because it's seen as a direct judgment of the meat eaters' personal value system.

    So, when you are inevitably asked about your vegetarianism, any hint that you don't want to eat meat because you don't want an animal to have to die for your palate will likely get you either condescendingly ridiculed as a tree-hugging hippie or viciously attacked as an arrogant, conceited holier-than-thou freak.

    Typically, this will involve all sorts of laughably labyrinthine arguments from carnivores. They'll insist that because you sometimes swat mosquitos, you're a self-delusional hypocrite, and that because they have enough guts to buy nice vacuum-sealed packets of bloodless, viscera-free pre-killed beef at the supermarket, they are the truly moral, consistent and courageously honest heroes of the food world. ....

    Quick Answers to Typical Attacks On Vegetarians

    Read the full article for typical arguments and useful responses.

    A number of commenters have said what commenter Jeffrey P. Harrison said: "I am a carnivore [and] it's none of your damned business." This is usually where the conversation with angry, over-aggressive carnivores ends up -- with the carnivore going libertarian, refusing to discuss the substance and science of food decisions, other than to declare it an entirely "personal choice." The problem, of course, is that these decisions are everyone's business when they threaten our collective air, water and ecosystem, as meat eating disproportionately does (as shown above). Indeed, trite "live and let live" platitudes sound great in theory, but they aren't applicable in the case of food -- and specifically when meat eaters' culinary obsessions are unduly threatening the planet's future.​
  2. Google AdSense Guest Advertisement

    to hide all adverts.
  3. chimpkin C'mon, get happy! Registered Senior Member

    That's why I always go for the health angle.
    I hate getting yelled at, it physically feels really bad.
    These days if someone yells at me I go away.

    I agree that meat production, as currently done, is generally bad for the planet and am looking forward to petrimeat grown in tanks.
  4. Google AdSense Guest Advertisement

    to hide all adverts.
  5. Asguard Kiss my dark side Valued Senior Member

    sorry james but your artical doesnt add up, why would CSIRO be promoting eating meat if it was bad for you. Furthermore vegans are predisposed to alot of illnesses which result from lack of various nutrients (one example would be ameno acids which make up your brain), in order to be healthy a vegan has to strictly monitor there diet more religiously than even a diabetic does. Lastly cross contaimination is a ferfy, you might as well say Hep B mostly comes from contaiminated vegitibles, there for eating veg is bad for you. Selmonalla outbreaks are more often than not contaiminated fruit and veg.

    As for enviromental damage your aticle makes the assumption that someone is either all meat or all veg (as is shown by the word CARNIVOR which humans arnt, they are OMNIVORS they eat meat AND veg). I would like to know how raising chickens in the back yard, eating the eggs, possibly eatting the chickens as well contibutes to global warming, unless the author thinks that the elimiation of ALL animals and leaving the world to plants alone is the most sustainable option (which oviously its not because plants need animals just as much as animals need plants). The best organic fertilisers for example are chicken and cow manua. How does your author plan to get around that problem that without these most veg wouldnt be able to grow in the first place?

    Two of the biggest problems with our diets is the amount of high energy denisity proccessed food we consume (which has nothing to do with meat) and the amount of waste we leave from the animals we slaughter. Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstallhas it right, we should be striving to use all of the animals and to ensure that the animals we consume are raised in the best possible lifestyle both for there own benift AND for the nutrictional content they then have (see his episode on the nutritional value of chicken in river cottage spring, sorry i dont have a link to it but im having trouble finding an online copy, just people talking about it)
  6. Google AdSense Guest Advertisement

    to hide all adverts.
  7. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

    I have no idea. Where does the CSIRO promote eating meat?

    The article is about vegetarianism, not veganism. Vegans have to be extra careful to get appropriate nutrients, but provided they are careful there's no problem with a vegan diet.

    Can you please link me to the statistics you're relying on here?

    No it doesn't. Quite obviously, meat eaters generally don't eat ONLY meat. Who would make such a silly claim? Certainly not the author of this article.

    You'd have to ask him what he thinks.

    To eat a chicken requires that you first feed the chicken, so that brings us back to the initial statistic that to get 1 kg of meat you need about 8 kg of input food. The energy involved in that production adds to global warming, at least in part.

    I'm not familiar with the fertiliser problem that you raise. Got a link so I can check that out for myself?

    Whose "problems" are these? Ours, or the animals? Your personal ranking of "problems" and non-problems obviously has a few unexpressed assumptions.
  8. Asguard Kiss my dark side Valued Senior Member

    you've never herd of the CSIRO total well being diet? Seriously? Even the vegan movement was posting numous articals about it because it calls for 100g of animal protine (lean meat or fish) for lunch and 200g for dinner every day.

    would you like to define "vegetarianism"? because its a VERY fuzzy term. Some "vegitarians" eat chicken, some eat fish, most eat eggs and milk, so what is a vegitarian?

    Thats not just domestic animals they are talking about, wild birds flying over the crops are just as much a danger as catle are

    Sorry that should have been Hep A, not B

    The term "carnivor" refers to an animal which exclusivily eats meat, if he is delibratly missusing the term the artical is more likly to be propergander than real science wouldnt you say?

    Chickens are often raised on scraps (in a household enviroment), far from increasing the amount of emissions this reduces total household waste, decreases dependence on supermarket foods (which have high greenhouse emissions because of transport), and also produce chicken manua which is great as a fertilizer for raising veg which also decreases the need to buy supermarket products ect. Far from being evil this is actually a good thing

    Ours oviously, if you raise a pig and eat just the ear then of course the amount of energy needed to raise said pig compared to output will be larger, if however all of the pig is used then there is alot less energy needed compared to output.

    As for the high density foods your artical discusses ". With science telling us that meat eating is linked to heart disease, cancer, obesity", this is incorect. I found an article which im having trouble relocating from one of the heart foundations which stated that it doesnt matter where the energy comes from the issue is obesity which is caused by a missmatch between energy consumption and energy use.

    One thing though i can find is this Fatty Acids and Mental Health

    Omega 3 comes from fish and with depression set to be one of the top 2 for disease burden by 2030 (posted in the stigma thread) we need to increase our consumption of foods which are high in fatty acids like fish, further more that goes for brain development in kids and insuring you keep your brain healthy to provent dementia related illnesses in latter life.

    Then there is the calcium issue for osteoporusis, but also cardiac and other mussle contractions and nero transmission. Milk is high in calcium, milk requires raising cows
  9. Me-Ki-Gal Banned Banned

    I don't care if you are veggy baby . I like vegetables with my meat . How bout bugs . Can eat bugs daddy? Fried Earth worms or grasshoppers ! Yum Yum
  10. Repo Man Valued Senior Member

    I eat meat, but I'm put off by meat proselytizers. I was at a work get together once, and one of the guys had a girlfriend who was a vegetarian. The husband of the woman who put it on has a business of smoking meats, and barbecuing. He kept trying to persuade this girl to have some meat! I thought it was very rude. She had politely stated her preference, that's the end of it. It's not as though you're going to give her something so good that she will give up her convictions.

    Here's to better meat substitutes in the future.
  11. Asguard Kiss my dark side Valued Senior Member

    though that is an extreem example its really no different from the attiude expressed in the operning artical, that someone is "wrong" for being an omnivore which is what we developed as. Its not inconcivable that the increase in mental illness is directly caused by the fall in consumption of fish and shellfish and brains (i know someone is going to quote this with a zombie reference

    Please Register or Log in to view the hidden image!

    ) and that far from meat being bad for us, its how the animals are treated BEFORE they are killed which is the issue.

    For instance i read an article a long time ago (sorry wouldnt know where to start to find it again, belive it was ABC but i could be wrong) about obeasity in the Aborigional population and the solution offered wasnt to switch to a vegan diet, it was to switch to a traditional diet of snake, kangroo, goana ect. These meats are all unsaturated because they arnt seditory the way high density meat is produced. The cause of the obeasity was a westen diet including high energy foods which arnt naturally found in the Aborigional diet.
  12. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member


    I've heard of it. There has been some debate, I believe, over its possible over-emphasis on meat.

    The starting assumption there is that most people are meat-eaters. The aim was not to create the best diet, but one that was healthy and acceptable to people who eat meat.

    Basically, vegetarians don't eat animals that are killed in order to be eaten. So, they don't eat fish or chicken, or red meat. Chicken eggs are unfertilised and no animal is killed in the process of obtaining an egg, which is why vegetarians eat eggs. Vegans are a different matter. They avoid all products that involve animal exploitation, which includes eggs.

    So, not a major point of contention, then.

    It's not a science article.

    The title is deliberately provocative and tongue-in-cheek. "carnivore" works a lot better in this context than the boring "omnivore", don't you think?

    No they aren't. That is far and away the exception rather than the rule. The vast majority of chickens consumed by human beings are still raised on factory farms.

    Regarding fertilisers, you own link says "Organic fertilizer nutrient content, solubility, and nutrient release rates are typically all lower than inorganic fertilizers."

    The input used to produce 1 kg of pig meat is at least 3 kg of vegetable matter.

    So you're arguing for eating meat for health reasons. Omega 3 supplements are available.

    Vegetarians have no problem with milk. With vegans, it's a different matter, for reasons given above.
  13. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

    Please read the full article, where your argument that "we evolved to be omnivores and therefore we should all eat meat" is covered.

    No. That's not "the issue". Read the article where it talks about morality heading to see what "the issue" is.

    You seem very keen to concentrate on what's healthy for humans, while at the same time having no regard at all for what's good for the animals you consume. In other words, it's all about you, and not at all about the animals or the environment. You're stuck on argument 1 of the article. You need to look at arguments 2 and 3 as well.
  14. Asguard Kiss my dark side Valued Senior Member

    reference please

    reference, i worked in the hospitality industry and most "vegitarians" i met ate chicken and possibly fish and your wrong on eggs too. Of course they are fertilised, the only difference is wether they are kept in an enviroment which alows the embro to develop (such as under a hen or in an incubator)

    umm YES big point of contention unless your suggesting we slaugher all wild animals so that there are no sources of contaimination

    Your right there, its a propergander piece and no better from those its accuses of bigoty

    Propergander always is, thought this was a science site james? especially in a forum called SCIENCE and society

    Nice aviodiance james, i dont belive i said that intensive farming was good (BTW you DO realise that intensive vegitible farming is the cause of salt build up in the soil dont you?)


    so your solution is more unnatural fertilizers, chemical subsitutions, (you do know that alot of (and i only say that because maybe there is one somewhere all the ones sold at woolworths are) omega 3 supliments ARE MADE FROM FISH) and genetic manipulation?

    You do realise that those same inorganic fertilizers are what is causing coral bleeching, destroying the river system by building up nirates ect.

    Sustainable farming needs both animals and plants because together they actually benifit eachother (for instance chickens eat the bugs, scratch up the veg beds when the seasons are over, eat the weeds, produce manua ect)

    Out of intrest how much green house emissions do you suspect is produced by the production of inorganic fertiliser (and its transport) and vitimen and mineral supliments to replace what should come naturally in a balanced diet?

    Further more look at the cost, do you really think a susistance farmer in china should be forking out money to pharmacutical companies to buy supliments that can sustainably be obtained naturally from his own farm?

    whats the energy input needed to produce the inorganic fertiliser for 1 Kg of veg and then transport it to the farm?

    see above

    No james, thats YOU. Vegan has a fixed meaning but vegitarian doesnt (which is why vegan developed actually).

    Actually i wonder if you eat jelly? because Gelatin is made from animal bones, its made from collagen. Further more i wonder if you have cats because its VERY cruel not to feed meat to cats because they really are canivors, we are no different, we evolved to eat meat as well as veg and a range of other foods (hense we are OMNIVORS).

    We already know what the effects of changing from a natural diet to a westen diet (including high density foods) was on one population (Aborigionals), levels of heart disease, diabeties ect are much lower in Aborigionals who eat a natural diet and there is no reason to suggest it would be different for us. Now if your suggesting that the animals we raise in intensive farming who then have a much fattier meat with less nurtrion isnt good for us i would agree, but free range organic meats are better for us and much more sustainable and the closer you grow your meat and veg to the place its consumed the better it is for the enviroment. Backyard is best of all
  15. chimpkin C'mon, get happy! Registered Senior Member

    If I had pet chickens, I would have no objection to eating their little chicken abortions. But I would mainly keep them for turning bugs into fertilizer.

    People in Asia have a tradition of eating their crop pests.

    Please Register or Log in to view the hidden image!

    Yep, fried rice rats.
    They also fry grasshoppers and crickets; I believe Mexicans have a taste for fried crickets...
    The closest we locally get to that is crayfish.

    I personally could not keep something, feed it, bond with it...then eat it.
    If I start eating meat again I want to learn to hunt and fish. At least a wild animal knows you are its' enemy; I find that slightly less disturbing than killing something that trusts me, and less disturbing than commercial farming.

    I'm vegan; except for honey and the contents of some of my meds. The cats/dogs are not.

    I have a hard time looking at anybody who eats anything that was motile and sentient as a vegetarian. They often call themselves such.
    I would respectfully...say they are not vegetarian if they eat stuff that was running around, swimming around, or filtering in the case of clams or mussels.
    Last edited: Aug 29, 2011
  16. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member


    I assume you have a copy of the CSIRO diet book. If not, why did you bring it up. I don't own a copy. I suspect the introduction will be helpful.

    [qutoe]i worked in the hospitality industry and most "vegitarians" i met ate chicken and possibly fish and your wrong on eggs too.[/quote]

    It's not my fault if those people didn't know what "vegetarian" means. It means you don't eat meat. Chicken and fish are meat.

    Better check your facts. The vast majority of eggs you buy at the supermarket are not fertilised.

    Did you read the whole thing? Did its answers to common meat-eater arguments annoy you?

    I tossed up as to whether to post it in Human Science or in Science and Society. I figured it's mostly about society. There's some good science in then on the impacts of meat-eating on the environment, and some health information, but it's not primarily a science piece.

    [quote[Nice aviodiance james, i dont belive i said that intensive farming was good (BTW you DO realise that intensive vegitible farming is the cause of salt build up in the soil dont you?)[/quote]

    Well, we could cut that down by about two thirds by reducing our farming of food for meat animals.

    My solution to what?

    So, when we stop growing all that food for the meat animals, then there'll be far less fertiliser-induced pollution of the environment.

    Another argument in favour of stopping eating meat. Thanks, Asguard!

    It's not hard. A vegetarian is somebody who doesn't eat meat.

    Generally, no.

    I own a cat and I feed her meat. Cats don't have a choice. You do.

    My primary argument has never been about health. Like I said, you've got to argument 1 of the article and apparently stalled. Read arguments 2 and 3.
  17. Asguard Kiss my dark side Valued Senior Member

    i asked for you to reference your comment that it was "The starting assumption there is that most people are meat-eaters. The aim was not to create the best diet, but one that was healthy and acceptable to people who eat meat"

    As for the rest im on my way out so i will deal with it later
  18. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

    Any issue that has social and economical implications beyond the life of one person (and food is one such issue), is a political issue, and should be treated as such.

    Science and reason have little to do here; being politically savvy is all.
  19. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

  20. Asguard Kiss my dark side Valued Senior Member

    how is reposting the link i gave you to me answering the question

    Reference your assumption that:

    "The starting assumption there is that most people are meat-eaters. The aim was not to create the best diet, but one that was healthy and acceptable to people who eat meat"

    Rather than this is the scientifically best diet period.

    James your quite quick to call others down for posting unreferenced assumptions as facts, now this is the third time i have asked you to reference somewhere ANYWHERE that states that CSIRO belives this isnt the healthiest diet they could have designed but is rather compromised to "please people who eat meat".

    So you concider this to be a science piece then? well it should be scientific (or at least you should), the "Assumptions" made in the post need to be referenced james, if i handed that to my lecturer it would come back with a "not satisfactory" even if it was the most brillant piece of work on the planet. This is simply a propergander piece that you happen to agree with

    Now its time you actually backed it up with statistics and evidence, if you get rid of animals you get rid of organic fertilizers, farmers are then forced to rely on inorganics which destroy the enviroment. You want to argue this on enviromental grounds im quite happy to. You are holding this artical up as true and correct, how about you surport it?

    How do i even know you didnt write this and then link to it as evidence? There is no references listed in that, even your 2/3 figure comes from where?

    Basically this thread is the equivilant of me going to politics and saying "israel is evil because i said so" except that would be a political opinion where as you held this up as science.
  21. sifreak21 Valued Senior Member

    Hmm for a veggie is fish considered meat?
  22. scheherazade Northern Horse Whisperer Valued Senior Member

    From the link posted by JamesR in the OP.

    I have a list of foods that I try to avoid eating, most of which are to be found in processed foods, and I'll spare you the boredom of listing them all, but corn products, nitrates and MSG (hydrolyzed veg. protein etc.) are the big three.

    The factory farming of grain and vegetables is equally damaging to the planet as is the factory farming of animals.

    Too many people is the problem. Period.

    Animals did not used to need to be 'farmed'. The were generally minimally contained and safe-guarded from harm while they went about their usual functions of eating and reproducing naturally, utilizing marginal land in many cases.

    It is the volume of meat, grain and vegetables required to produce the modern food supply that has become the problem, IMO.

    I question whether this intense production style of agriculture is sustainable and I feel the carnivore/omnivore/vegetarian/vegan debates are just a red herring.

    The real problem is that our species are energy whores and we are all guilty of prostituting ourselves to the grid. (Well, almost all....a few remain unconnected.)

    Let the grid go down for any length of time and it will be very interesting to observe what the civilized nature of our species truly is.

    A few days without food and water would also change the tone of these debates, IMO.
  23. chimpkin C'mon, get happy! Registered Senior Member

    In other threads I've gotten into discussing how no-till agriculture produces a good crop and builds the soil up, also turns agricultural land into a much-needed carbon sink. So we aren't factory farming plants sustainably either.

    If you look at what poor peoples eat, they eat chicken, goat, duck, pig, Peru, guinea small animals raised in the yard seem more sustainable...not sure how that would work in cities.

    Guinea pig...hmm...your new highrise livestock food???

    Houston seems to have enough people in it that ignore livestock laws...that most poor neighborhoods will have roosters going off in the morning.

    Water, we'd be kind of dead... But food, yeah. That's why I won't say I would never eat meat, I don't know how desperate I might end up being.
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.

Share This Page