Arguments that it is right to eat meat:
- Humans are omnivorous by nature. Eating meat and fish is natural for us. As omnivorous creatures, we are designed by nature to thrive on a wide variety of foods.
- In order for a human to do well when eliminating meat and fish foods from our diets, we must learn about alternate sources of the proteins needed for health. In other words, when altering the natural diet, there is a lot to know about the balance of nutrition in an alternate (vegetarian) diet.
- Modern humans have too many resource that allow them to indulge in an excess of one or more foods that should be consumed in moderation. Overindulgence is is not necessarily 'fixed' by eliminating animal sources of protein.
- The cruel treatment of animals raised for human consumption is not a result of humans desire to consume meat. It is, in fact, the result of the way some humans conduct business, some care and some do not. The ones who do not care for the well being of the animals in their charge are a normal part of the human spectrum of behavior that exists in every human endeavor. People whose prime motive is profit above all else can be found in any industry.
- Poultry, fish and even red meat (but red meat can be optional) is an excellent source of protein and the brain needs protein as well as the muscles of your body, etc. Certain types of beans can give you protein as well as cheese, etc.
- We are told about the Bird Flu, Mad Cow Disease, and Mercury in fish. Your body has an immune system that will usually fluctuates with the changing of most foods.
- My husband and I, not to mention many of our friends eat chicken, pork, red meat, fish, etc., and so far we haven't grown any horns or had any ill effects. Don't let the media scare you into believing you have to fear eating meats.
Arguments that it is wrong to eat meat:
- The meat industry feeds hormones and antibiotics and heaven only knows what else (cloning is in the near future) to mass produce more meats and poultry. Now, in Canada they are farming fish and there is not proper data that this is a safe way to raise fish and people fear that if they get out in the ocean they will infect the natural fish. When there is more studies done into fish farming then one can look at it more rationally.
- "A man can live and be healthy without killing animals for food; therefore, if he eats meat, he participates in taking animal life merely for the sake of his appetite. And to act so is immoral." -Henry David Thoreau, On Civil Disobedience.
- Humans consume far more meat products than are healthy for them; meats that are produced in unhealthy ways.
- Every nutritional substance necessary for optimum human health can be found in plant-based foods. Since it is not necessary to torture/kill animals for nutritional reasons, to do so is to act immorally.
There are many arguments that it is wrong to eat meat:
- Producing meat, eggs, and dairy involves unimaginable cruelty. Farmed animals lead lives of horrible suffering and die cruel deaths. Cows spend years in a concrete stall or filthy feed lot before they are slaughtered with a bolt to the head and a knife. Calves of dairy cows are separated from their mothers, often before even a single drink of the milk that was meant for them, confined in tiny pens, and then killed for veal after only a few months of life. Baby pigs are castrated without anesthesia, taken from their mothers who are confined in tiny crates, and killed at just 7 months. Chickens are crammed in tiny cages and have their beaks clipped to prevent them from hurting each other due to stress from confinement. Male chicks of egg-producing hens are thrown into trash bags to suffocate or ground up alive. All of this is standard industry procedure, and all of these animals are deprived the protection from animal cruelty that we use to protect other animals.
- Animal agriculture pollutes our air and drinking water. According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, animal agriculture produces vast amounts of manure, with large factory farms often generating the waste equivalent of a small city. Pollution from these farms seriously threatens humans, fish, and ecosystems. Large hog farms emit hydrogen sulfide, a gas that causes flu-like symptoms in humans, but at high concentrations can lead to brain damage. High levels of nitrates in drinking water near feedlots can cause miscarriage and infant death. Animal manure can transmit more than 40 diseases to humans, many of them deadly, including Salmonella, E. coli, Cryptosporidium, and fecal coliform.
- Animal agriculture is a major contributor to climate
change. A 2006 report by the United Nations Food and
Agriculture Organization, Livestock's Long Shadow, estimated
that animal agriculture produces 18% of annual worldwide greenhouse
gas emissions. But a 2009 analysis by Robert Goodland and Jeff
Anhang, Livestock and Climate Change, found that livestock
and their byproducts actually account for at least 32.6 billion
tons of carbon dioxide per year, or 51% of annual worldwide
greenhouse gas emissions.
- Meat production contributes to deforestation. According a 2012 study from the Union of Concerned Scientists, meat production has led to more and more deforestation for grazing pastures as well as land to grow livestock feed. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations reports that around 70% of the Amazon rainforest has been cut and burned to be used as grazing land for cattle.
- Meat production threatens endangered species and reduces biodiversity. Wild animals suffer not only because of meat-related deforestation, pollution, and climate change, but the meat industry also directly targets them to protect profits. Grazing animals such as elk, deer, and antelope are killed to reserve more grazing land for cattle. Beavers and prairie dogs are killed because they make holes and ponds where the meat industry wants flat grazing land. California grizzly bears and Mexican gray wolves have been driven to extinction to protect meat industry profits, and the meat industry leads the opposition to their recovery. According to a 2014 article in the Christian Science Monitor, some ranchers go to extreme measures to keep predators away, such as strapping pouches of neurotoxins to the necks of grazing lambs, or calling upon the United States Department of Agriculture to shoot down predators from government helicopters. They also call upon a federal agency known as Wildlife Services to shoot, trap, and poison millions of animals every year, including wolves, foxes, and bears in National Forests, to make more room for farmed animals. Livestock grazing is promoted, protected, and subsidized by tax dollars on 270 million acres of public lands in 11 U. S. western states, a practice that imperils more than 175 threatened or endangered species, including 14 percent of threatened or endangered animals and 33 percent of threatened or endangered plants.
- Animal agriculture has promoted the rise of antibiotic-resistant "super bugs." In the United States, people who raise animals for food add around 29 million pounds of antibiotics to their food every year so that they can grow in overcrowded, unsanitary conditions. This number represents about 80 percent of the total antibiotics used in the United States. This excessive use of antibiotics on animals has contributed to the rise of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, making it harder to treat human illnesses.
- Meat production contributes to world hunger. Even though
there are enough plant crops grown to feed the entire human
population, the majority of crops are fed to livestock to produce
meat for people who can afford it. It takes 13 to 20 pounds of
grain to produce just 1 pound of beef, around seven pounds of grain
to produce one pound of pork, and 4.5 pounds of grain to produce
one pound of chicken. In 2009, a Worldwatch Institute study
reported that "meat consumption is an inefficient use of
grains...the grain is used more efficiently when consumed directly
by humans...feeding grain to animals, creat[es] competition for
grain between affluent meat-eaters and the world's poor." In 2011,
farmers worldwide produced 883 million tons of corn, and 260
million tons of soybeans. On average, 40-50% of that corn, and 80%
of those soybeans are fed to farmed animals, rather than humans. In
2013, scientists from the Institute on the Environment and the
University of Minnesota published a study that concluded that if
all food crops were fed directly to humans instead of animals,
around 70% more food would be added to the world's supply, which
would be enough to feed 4 billion additional people. That surplus
alone would be enough food to feed over half the humans on earth,
including the 925 million who face hunger every day, and the 2.5
million children under the age of five who die of starvation each
- Meat consumption promotes human health risks. According to the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, a strong body of scientific evidence links meat consumption with heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, obesity, certain cancers, and earlier death because of high saturated fat and cholesterol content, high energy density, carcinogenic compounds formed during high-temperature cooking, a compound that may promote plaque build-up in the arteries, and the deficiency of health-protective plant nutrients in high-meat diets.
- Meat production is a massive waste of resources. The production of a quarter-pound hamburger requires 625 gallons of water, the destruction of 55 square feet of forest, and wastes 50 times more fossil fuel than would the production of the same amount of plant-based food. According a 2012 study from the Union of Concerned Scientists, nearly 60% of the agricultural land around the world is used in the production of beef, which provides less than 2% of the world's consumed calories. It also called beef production an "inefficient use of feed resources," as it takes 10 kilograms of grain to produce 1 kilogram of beef. In the United States, according to the USDA, 80 percent of agricultural land (almost half the land mass of the lower 48 states) is used for raising cows, chickens, and pigs and the crops to feed them. More than half of the grain grown in the country goes toward feeding livestock, and nearly half of the water used goes toward meat production.
- Meat is a primary cause of food poisoning. The National Institutes of Health warns that meat or poultry can come into contact with intestinal bacteria while being slaughtered and butchered. Nearly 9 million pounds of meat and poultry was recalled in 2010 because of the potential for food-borne illness after it had already been approved by regulators. In 2012, the the nonprofit watchdog group Center for Science in the Public Interest analyzed more than 33,000 cases of food poisoning in the U.S. over the course of 12 years. They determined that chicken and ground beef were responsible for a combined 788 food poisoning outbreaks and 10,697 cases of illness.
- Animal agriculture contaminates fruits and vegetables. Fruits and vegetables can also be contaminated with animal waste when manure is used to fertilize produce in the field.
- Meat is expensive. Besides costing in terms of water and fuel that much of the world cannot afford, a pound of ground beef in 2014 cost $4.10 in the United States, where its production is highly subsidized. It provides 1,152 calories, nearly 91 grams of fat, 78 grams of protein, and no fiber. A half pound of lentils mixed with a half pound of brown rice costs about $1.38 in the United States. They provide 1,587 calories, 8 grams of fat, 88 grams of protein, and 77 grams of fiber. The biggest savings may be long-term: by avoiding chronic illnesses, such as heart disease, you could save on such procedures as a $57,439 heart bypass operation and take far fewer sick days.
- Meat is unnecessary for human nutrition. Vegetables have all the protein you need. All plants contain protein, and protein deficiency is practically impossible if you're getting enough calories from unrefined foods. But what about other nutrients? In a study published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2003, the diets of about 100 German vegans were recorded for a week and were found deficient in calcium, iodine, and vitamin B12. Using the same standards, though, people who eat the standard American diet that includes meat are deficient in 7 nutrients. The average American who eats meat is not only also deficient in calcium and iodine, they are deficient in vitamin C, vitamin E, fiber, folate, and magnesium, and potassium as well. In fact, 98% of Americans eat potassium-deficient diets, and 95% of Americans don't get enough fiber, and over 92% of Americans are deficient in one or more vitamins. Up to 80% of Americans are deficient in magnesium. That doesn't mean they are receiving less than the amount they need for optimal health. That means they receive less than the minimum amount necessary to prevent deficiency diseases. All of these deficiencies can be traced to the fact that Americans don't eat enough fruits and vegetables.