Vegetarian: To be or not to be

The question of meat eating is one that I intentionally avoid. It is a gray zone that is infused with shame and accusation dodging. But with all the vegetarian movements, and the ethical debates, one question has resonated in my mind: when did we start to kill animals for food? Chimpanzees, our closest primate relatives, eat meat when they can get it. Is it then a prehistoric habit which has stuck with us to this date? That is hardly an excuse to justify the existence of our slaughter houses. There are also significant religious references to meat eating in the Torah, Bible and Qur’an, and while they are respected by millions world-wide, it is clear that religion cannot be used as the sole basis for moral judgment (as only religious people would follow it).

So then, the question becomes: Is it healthier for us? Examining Canada’s Food Guide, children and adults are recommended to eat meat on a daily basis. But then again, meat alternatives are also recommended as an option. Additionally, if our overall health is the concern, it is worth noting that cows and sheep, our more dominant type of cattle, are also the highest producers of green house gases; a concern that wouldn’t be carelessly dismissed (assuming you aren’t republican or a petroleum lobbyist). So then, why do we still kill animals and eat them? Quick arguments that come to mind are our position in the food chain, a lack of care for animals and the difference in intelligence. However, in his video, Dr.Tyler Doggett swiftly disproved these arguments.

Now if I ask an opposing question, why don’t we kill humans and eat them, the only explanation I can crop up, is our capacity for communication. Humans can communicate with one another and build relationships based on this exchange of information. They can do so with diminished levels with dogs, monkeys, cats…etc (i.e animals we don’t usually eat). They can’t, however, do so with regular cattle. Does that then justify killing newborns and eating them? I think that in the case of children, a parental connection is invoked in us which prevents us from doing any harm to them. What about a person in a coma? Once again, my hypothesis is no longer valid.

Another possible explanation is taste. Humans simply kill cows and other cattle for their pleasing taste. Perhaps other animals and humans do not provide this same “gustatory satisfaction”. Is this enough of a justification? A quick and extremely disturbing google search finds that in 2007, psychotic German cannibal Armin Meiwes cooked and consumed a person, likening the taste to strong pork. This “hannibalistic” study therefore disproves the taste hypothesis as well.

This leaves me with little to no explanation. It is clear however, that buying meat and eating evokes no sentiment of remorse in me. However, when footage of animals heading to slaughter is shown, these innate feelings become evident. This, to me, demonstrates the existence of a certain moral compass, which includes a sense of compassion and care to living beings. Will I become a vegetarian any time soon? Perhaps.

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