Now, I know that this is going to be contentious. It’s pretty obvious that I know that, or I probably wouldn’t have chosen to call it “Why Vegetarians Suck.” Let me say from the outset that I know lots of vegetarians who are perfectly lovely people – my life would be an awful lot poorer if it didn’t have them in it. But I take issue with 99% of them when it comes to their eating habits and their ethics. I’m going to try to make my position on it clear. Bear in mind that this is written by someone who would happily eat foie gras or veal – and if that turns your stomach, then don’t read anymore.
Let’s get my most important objection to vegetarianism out of the way first. Presumably, vegetarians would like the whole world to follow their example. What would this mean? Well, it would mean global environmental meltdown, that’s what! A lot of vegetarian propaganda states that the meat industry is damaging to the environment – and it is. But consider the consequences of the planet having to produce enough plant matter to feed the entire population. The only way it could be done is through intensive farming, relying on huge amounts of chemical fertilisers and fossil fuels. We just couldn’t produce enough to feed everyone otherwise. Most of the vegetables we eat are produced like that, in fact, unless we buy organic ones. But the simple fact is that we couldn’t produce enough organic vegetables to feed everyone – it would be too labour intensive and a lot of people would starve.
My second objection is probably just as important, though it doesn’t apply to all vegetarians. Just the vast majority of them. They drink milk and they eat cheese. Well, the dairy industry IS the meat industry. The two serve each other. By drinking milk you are condemning animals to a life of factory farmed misery just as if you were eating a McDonalds. Your average pint of milk is produced with a hundred times as much suffering on the part of the animals as any organic and ethically reared slab of steak. But they don’t kill animals to produce milk? Oh don’t they! What about all the male calves that are born? At one time they would have gone to produce veal. But people are so anti veal nowadays that most of them are just slaughtered for nothing. One a related note, most booze isn’t vegetarian either. It’s got fish liver in it. And so to vegans. This goes back to my first point – the whole world could not be vegan without intensive growing and harvesting procedures. And loads of little animals are killed by that process – field mice are not that good at knowing to get out of the way of great big combine harvesters. You cannot produce food without killing something unless you do it yourself. I suppose we could all go stone age and do that – but you’d have to wave goodbye to all the mod cons. No-one would have time to make computers or generate electricity or design organic cotton clothes.
And so to vegans. This goes back to my first point – the whole world could not be vegan without intensive growing and harvesting procedures. And loads of little animals are killed by that process – field mice are not that good at knowing to get out of the way of great big combine harvesters. You cannot produce food without killing something unless you do it yourself. I suppose we could all go stone age and do that – but you’d have to wave goodbye to all the mod cons. No-one would have time to make computers or generate electricity or design organic cotton clothes.
So what should you do if you love animals and care about their welfare? You should buy organic meat – meat that has been produced ethically, without cruelty and without intensive methods. You should resign yourself to the fact that this meat will be more expensive than the factory farmed mush that most people buy nowadays. You should write to your supermarkets and demand that they stop selling intensively farmed meat and that they start paying farmers a fair price. You should only buy free range eggs and you should buy your milk from a local farm which treats its animals well and doesn’t exploit them for high milk yields at low prices.
What you should NOT do is give up eating meat altogether. If all the people who care about animal welfare take that muddled and easy way out, then there is no pressure on the farming industry to change its ways. All you vegetarians – it’s because of you that factory farms exist – think about that next time you tuck into a cheese sandwich.