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    © Glendon Mellow, The Flying Trilobite

    vegehumilitarianism

    lisaveg4498A couple of years ago, Becca and I had a college friend over for dinner. Hadn’t seen him for years. An engineer and a gentleman. We had a great time catching up, and inevitably he asked about my work.

    He listened thoughtfully as I filled him in on the nonreligious parenting book I’d just released, nodding his head, occasionally making a supportive sound or saying “Wow, that’s really great stuff you’re doing.” But I could tell there was something left unsaid.

    Right in the middle of the Long Minnesota Goodbye (Step 2, I think — standing in the living room with coat in hand, talking), he came out with it.

    “I think what you’re doing is awesome. I’m so impressed. I’m a Christian myself. Doesn’t make sense, I can’t support it, there’s no logic behind it, it’s completely unreasonable, but there it is.”

    I knew by his tone and tempo that he was uneasy divulging this, figuring I’d think less of him, or worse, try to talk him out of it. To discourage this, he’d headed straight into L.M.G. Step 3 (slip one arm into jacket, keep talking) just in case he’d have to bolt.

    I assured him it was completely cool, to each his own, etc. But my inner jag-off was thinking, “No, it’s not OK. Different belief, fine. But you don’t get to just sidestep the question of whether your worldview makes any sense. Beliefs have consequences. You don’t get to hear my evidence and then say, ‘I just don’t wanna!’ ”

    And that’s when I heard it — another person in my head, clearing his throat and staring accusingly at my inner jag-off with a wry smile. The jag fell silent and wet himself, ever so slightly.

    The accuser was my inner vegehumilitarian.

    Ever get into a discussion of religious beliefs, only to have the other person sort of glaze over and look away? Nod, grant you every point, then just…shrug and smile? Nothing drove me nutsier during my brief secular-evangelical phase than this shrugging disengagement. I mean, what’s the friggin’ point in having Kevlar arguments if the other person refuses to shoot??

    Then came the day I felt myself doing exactly the same shrug.

    For me, the topic is vegetarianism. I should be a vegetarian. When my dad died, my doctor told my mom that a genetic vascular defect in Dad’s head most likely caused the aneurysm, and that we kids could easily have it as well, and that to keep our blood pressure under control and for several other reasons it would be a good idea for us to consider vegetarianism.

    When Mom shared this with me, I glazed over, shrugged, and took another bite of my wiener.

    Years later I came across the moral dimension, most vividly in the documentary short Meet Your Meat. I was and remain horrified at such depictions of animal cruelty in our food production system. I had to glaze over and shrug especially hard to finish my tangerine beef.

    I told myself for years that we need the protein, or that there’s not enough variety or interest or texture in vegetarian cuisine, despite massive evidence to the contrary. Let that phrase echo a bit: Massive evidence to the contrary…ary…ary…ary.

    Please don’t think I’m being glib. I’m exposing myself as indefensibly inconsistent and hypocritical. I’m much worse than people who don’t know why they shouldn’t eat meat because I KNOW WHY. Have I examined and refuted these arguments like the good rationalist I am? No, because there is no refutation. I don’t go vegetarian for one vague and pathetic “reason.”

    I don’t wanna.

    I don’t even know what that’s supposed to mean. Why don’t I want to? Dunno. It doesn’t get patheticker than that.

    So whenever my inner jag-off tries to kick-start a smug, self-righteous response to someone who’s sinking into glazed disengagement in the face of the three hundred excellent arguments against religious belief, I have only to call forth my inner vegehumilitarian. This does NOT mean I disengage from challenging toxic religious ideas. I obviously don’t. It simply means I start from a position of empathy for the believer — a much more effective starting point if we’re ever to make headway.

    And I hope for similar mercy from all the vegetarians shaking their detoxified heads at me. Don’t stop trying to get through my glaze, but please — have mercy.
    _______________
    CODA
    A dose of humility for carnivorous atheists

    Excellent reasons to be an atheist
    Excellent reasons to be a vegetarian
    Famous atheists
    Famous vegetarians
    Great vegetarian recipes
    Great atheist recipes

    If you enjoyed this post, please consider leaving a comment or subscribing to the RSS feed to have future articles delivered to your feed reader.

    Comments

    comments

    This was written on Wednesday, 22. April 2009 at 08:57 and was filed under belief and believers, critical thinking, morality, nonbelief and nonbelievers, values. You can keep up with the comments to this article by using the RSS-Feed.

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    Comments »

    1. Atheist recipes – heh :-) I can definitely relate to this post. And you can add environmental reasons to the list as well. But I don’t wanna either.

      BTW, I think the link for “Excellent reasons to be a vegetarian” is broken. It goes to an admin page to edit this post. Or something like that. [Fixed, thanks! DM]

      Comment: Ryan – 22. April 2009 @ 9:37 am

    2. I was a vegetarian for over 10 years (eggs, dairy, occasional seafood to make it easier to be someone’s guest or eat abroad)–until I got a little bit into my first pregnancy and craved meat in a way I hadn’t ever experienced before. I kept eating meat until after I weaned my son. Then I tried to transition back to vegetarianism, but found it very hard to do since I’m the only one in my household. I still hope to have another kid, so that’s another thing that is keeping me from going back to it completely.

      In the long-term, I expect to dial back my meat consumption so that I’m having it no more than a couple times a week–both for animal and environmental reasons. But having been on both sides of this after making up my rational mind, I can definitely say I understand where you’re coming from.

      Comment: mouse – 22. April 2009 @ 9:49 am

    3. Excellent parallel. While most of my religious discussions are online, you can still sense that glazed over, ‘I don’t wanna’ attitude from some people. What I don’t understand is why some of these people keep coming back for more. It’s like a meat-eater who keeps visiting a vegetarian diner and ordering a steak. Are you a glutton for punishment or a troll?

      Comment: BrianE – 22. April 2009 @ 10:25 am

    4. I’ve been a flexitarian for about a year and a half, but now I’d rather call myself a vegehumilitarian (LOVE that term, Dale!). Intellectually, I believe it’s wrong to eat meat, but I don’t wanna stop altogether. I gotta say that a steak tastes REALLY good when you haven’t eaten beef in 8 months.

      I told myself years ago that there’s no point in arguing about religion with a religious person – they just shrug their shoulders, mutter something about having faith, and quote the Bible. You can’t argue with the Bible. But I see your point about just arguing against the toxic ideas. We’re better off fighting for a more humanistic society than arguing about the existence of god.

      Comment: rajawa – 22. April 2009 @ 10:50 am

    5. This is why I try to teach my kids the value of “practice”. By that I mean something that doesn’t qualify as fun, satisfying, etc. in-and-of itself, but that helps us reach a goal which is. Sometimes we hit a boulder in our path that we can effortlessly blast away. Other times we have to chip away at it with taps of a chisel (i.e. “practice”). Eventually, it’s removed and we can continue towards our goal.

      I had the boulder of my dogma blasted away by the death of my father (long story). Some people need it dissolved slowly by the drip-drip-drip of subtle reason. Same with carnivorism; some have it blasted it away by something like Meet Your Meat while others have to wean themselves off of it.

      It sounds like you’re in the latter category, Dale. Next time you have a choice between beef and chicken, choose the chicken since poultry are healthier for you and easier on the environment. Every time you open a menu, check out the salads first and see if one of them sounds good enough to order. Pick up a box of Boca Burgers next time you’re in the store and see what you think. Grill up a big portabello mushroom cap with BBQ sauce and put it in a bun with all the works. Start ratcheting the number of meals with meat in them down by one each month. Every bit helps.

      Meanwhile, we should all keep in touch with our friends like yours and see what little digs of reason we can get in – a book suggestion here, a movie-watching there, an invite to a freethought event here, etc. That’s why I never turn down a Facebook friend invite; I post lots of hopefully thought-provoking links and messages to drip-drip-drip on as much dogma as possible.

      Comment: tgbarton – 22. April 2009 @ 11:04 am

    6. Terrific suggestions, Todd! I’m already doing a few of those. I’ve almost completely substituted Bocas for regular burgers. I especially like the idea of ratcheting down the # of meat meals by one per month. Who can’t do that?

      Comment: Dale – 22. April 2009 @ 11:40 am

    7. Yeah… I don’t wanna either. And I wouldn’t feel guilty about it if I didn’t know the truth. And I can get real defensive around my vegetarian friends (or my poor vegan niece, who I’m obligated by law to harass and embarrass as much as possible).
      I try to cut down as much as I can, I like the once a month idea to start.

      There’s one big difference imho that breaks your parallel, BBQ, unlike god, is not imaginary. BBQ is yummmmmmy. And unfortunately there has yet to be presented to me a vegetable that is as yummy or as fulfilling to make as full on long and slow smoked BBQ pork shoulder. Or brisket…. mmmmmmm brisket… or beer can chicken… uggghghgl… (drool) I gotta go….

      Comment: blotzphoto – 22. April 2009 @ 12:55 pm

    8. We are a vegetarian family, but we don’t try to convert anyone. My oldest never liked meat and by the time the girls came along, we weren’t eating it. So they don’t know what they are missing. It can be a pain sometimes too. No drive-thrus for us and it’s hard at family events and BBQs with friends. There is nothing that says you have to be a vegetarian anyway. Just cut back. Try adding a few meat-free meals a week to your menu or substitute with non-meat products. For example we use Earth Balance butter which is vegan and I think it tastes better. Or use Gimme Lean Ground Sausage Style for sausage. I can almost guarantee you won’t know the difference, no one I’ve ever known has. Gimme Lean also makes a ground beef style that we use in spaghetti, chili, tacos. It’s pretty good. So don’t give up meat, but at least try some other things. Go to Moes and order an Art Vandelay. That’s what I’m having for dinner tonight!

      Comment: Sarah – 22. April 2009 @ 2:13 pm

    9. I’m ‘strict’ vegetarian (no meat, no dead animal products like gelatine/rennet, no leather) and I feel almost the exact opposite when speaking with meat-eaters. I actually wrote a short post on it once upon a time (about vegetarianism and not shaving my pits actually, probably the only time those two decisions have ever come together in a post!) which I’m going to add here because it might help all those meat-eaters who seem to spend their lives defending their choices:

      Why do people immediately go on the defensive when you mention a lifestyle choice you’ve made which puts you in the minority?

      Case one – I’m in a kebab shop at 2am, waiting an age for much needed sustenance. The place is heaving, and a bearded young man is being squeezed up next to me by the crowd. We are making small talk about how busy it is. He asks how long I’ve been waiting and I say I’ve already ordered, and I’ve been waiting five minutes or so for my food. He asks what I ordered and I reply ‘a veggie burger and chips’. He rolls his eyes. “You vegetarian?” I reply yes, and he rolls his eyes again. “Stupid. People need meat.” and proceeded to tell me about all the reasons he felt meat was necessary. He asked if I was vegetarian, I gave a simple answer and immediately he felt the need to defend his meat-eating? Is he so insecure, does he feel so guilty about his carnivorous ways that he has to argue for them even when not invited to?

      Case two – a woman friend is talking about difficulty with shaving. I say I’m not much help there because I don’t do it. Immediately she begins listing off the reasons why she shaves, defending herself, making excuses – she prefers the way it feels, all the other stuff I hear from every shaving woman I’ve ever met. I didn’t ask. I didn’t tell her she should not shave, or demand to know why she didn’t stop. I simply mentioned that I don’t do it because it was relevant to the conversation. If it’s so normal to do it, why do people immediately start trying to excuse themselves when it’s mentioned, even when they clearly haven’t been called on it?

      If people believe they are doing things by choice because it’s best for them, why do they immediately take a defensive stance even when no offensive stance is presented? Is it really so hard to say “Oh right, I do the opposite,” and carry on with the conversation? Do they secretly think/know that eating meat/shaving/insert action here is wrong, and they’re trying to convince themselves? Are they trying to convince me I should do things their way, even though I didn’t ask for the opinion? Are they really just insecure and asking for me to tell them their way’s okay too? Or are they testing me, trying me out as a figurehead, trying to make me respond arrogantly so next time they meet a vegetarian/someone who shaves they can say “ALL vegetarians/hairy people are idiots because I met this one…”

      I wrote this post when I was a little annoyed, as you might be able to tell. But many vegetarians (and non-shavers!) came forward to tell me that they too had had this experience. Seriously, the overwhelming majority of vegetarians aren’t judging you. We honestly don’t give a monkey’s what you put in your mouth as long as you don’t force it into ours. ;) Most of us just feel utterly bemused when an omnivore immediately goes on the defensive when they learn of our diet choices. We’re not looking to catch anyone out or convert anyone, I promise. ;)

      Comment: Anji – 22. April 2009 @ 2:20 pm

    10. There is nothing that says you have to be a vegetarian anyway. Just cut back.

      You know, that’s a very good point. I can certainly do that. And the available products are 10 times better and more abundant than 20 years ago.

      I actually think there’s a parallel to this in religious belief: the “cafeteria Catholic” who doesnt want to go all the way to atheism, but cuts out 40-50% of the dogma. Maybe little by little. “I’ll give up believing in transubstantiation this month, then the idea that homosexuality is a sin next month.” In just 2-3 years, you’re Christopher Hitchens.

      Comment: Dale – 22. April 2009 @ 2:25 pm

    11. Seriously, the overwhelming majority of vegetarians aren’t judging you.

      Oh I agree. But heck with others — my point is that I’M judging me. I actually think I SHOULD be a vegetarian, or at least more so, and that I’m lame and unreasonable for not just doing it, or at least getting closer.

      Okay, that’s it, I’m going to start cutting back.

      Comment: Dale – 22. April 2009 @ 2:29 pm

    12. An excellent Earth Day topic. Have you heard about “vegan ’til 6″? I don’t think I’ll drop eggs (from happy chickens) for breakfast but since I’m lactose intolerant anyway…

      See: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=103323943&sc=fb&cc=fp

      Comment: AmyS – 22. April 2009 @ 6:35 pm

    13. I use to be fanatic Vegetarian, but then I use to be Marxist and Christian.
      Look into PALEO. My site has a brief tab about it.
      It meat with pride !
      (we raise our own and gladly slaughter them with thankfulness)
      – the politically-incorrect atheist
      (by the way, loved the part about intellectually humility, you only have a little further to go — smile)

      Comment: sabio – 22. April 2009 @ 8:48 pm

    14. I’m kind of in the group you are in Dale, I know many of the benefits, and still I’m not a vegetarian. I tried out being a vegetarian for what was supposed to be a week, but it ended up being slightly less than four days. I did realize that a lot of the foods I love are already vegetarian. I usually eat cereal for breakfast, I love pastas and breads and fruit.You might not even realize how many of your favorite foods are vegetarian, or ova-lacto at least. Also some foods that you eat that might normally have meat in it or associated with it are just as good with out it. One of the best lasagnas I’ve had was vegetarian and at a restaurant none the less.

      I also talked to a nutritionist in Austin when I was doing this little experiment that said being a vegetarian doesn’t guarantee healthiness. As a vegetarian you may not have to worry about eating deep fried chicken, but you still have to make sure and eat the right, and enough proteins, and still have to worry about yummy donuts! Don’t be too hard on yourself about it, but like the above people said you can easily take little steps. In the end, for me, it just came down to enjoying a steak too much to stop, even though I do substitute some meats or just leave them out.

      Comment: boonxeven – 23. April 2009 @ 7:22 am

    15. being a vegetarian doesn’t guarantee healthiness.

      Of course — just as (to return to the analogy) leaving religion doesn’t guarantee freedom from nonsense. But it’s a good start.

      Comment: Dale – 23. April 2009 @ 7:36 am

    16. I checked out that PETA video you linked and stopped about halfway through out of disgust of how they were clearly appealing to emotion without any substantive facts. I know there are reasons why a vegetarian diet can be healthier (I tend to try to insert a couple of veggie meals in every week if nothing else), but I have a really hard time taking anyone who tries to scare me very seriously.

      Comment: Thranil – 23. April 2009 @ 8:39 am

    17. Great post Dale! I feel your pain. I am exactly the same way – I should be a vegitarian but I don’t wanna. I just like my steak too much. I have however recently incorporated about two vegitarian meals per week, most of which have been really, really good. Of course that goes back to my theory that there is no food out there that cannot be cooked in a way to make it very tasty (except maybe peas)

      Comment: jcornelius – 23. April 2009 @ 9:52 am

    18. I checked out that PETA video you linked and stopped about halfway through out of disgust of how they were clearly appealing to emotion without any substantive facts.

      I hear ya. It is indeed manipulative. But unless it was staged, the video constitutes a record of facts. They may be carefully selected for emotional bang, but it is evidence. The presence of strong emotion doesn’t negate that in my view.

      My complaint is that it doesn’t suggest to me that vegetarianism is a proper response, but a sweeping reform of animal cruelty protections — unless PETA is suggesting the cruelty is unavoidable, which undercuts the moral force of their argument. I’d even say that encouraging vegetarianism is a weak and ineffective response, since the net impact will be minimal, whereas legislation can have a powerful effect.

      Comment: Dale – 23. April 2009 @ 9:55 am

    19. “I hear ya. It is indeed manipulative. But unless it was staged, the video constitutes a record of facts. They may be carefully selected for emotional bang, but it is evidence. The presence of strong emotion doesn’t negate that in my view.”

      I agree that a factual argument put forth in such a way to invoke an emotional response does not in any way negate the validity of the argument. The problem I had with the video was that the facts seemed to be misleading or (in some cases) lacking.

      One thing that looked like it might be a legit complaint (how the cows were being treated). That was a bit of an eye-opener.

      The first assertion was essentially that vegetarian diets reverse heart disease. Well, yes it can, if you do it right. I’ve seen some surprisingly obese vegetarians, so I know it can be done in a way that still leaves one unhealthy… but this is splitting hairs somewhat, so I’m willing to let that point go. The problem is, however, that heart disease has also been shown to be ‘reversed’ by a good diet using healthier meats (i.e. poultry), complex carbohydrates and (yes) a solid amount of veggies and fruits. So that’s just not a convincing argument and I found it to be misleading.

      Later in the video they show a package of poultry and emphasize that there is likely to be a trace amount of poop in each package. Assuming that this is true (seems likely), they mean to tell me that vegetables DON’T? Ignoring for the moment all the various insects that will likely crawl all over a vegetable (pooping etc) before it is harvested, isn’t one of the more effective fertilizers cow manure? I mean, it’s possible that the cow manure would not get on the vegetable at all, but it just doesn’t seem likely. So yet another argument that is half-baked.

      Another example that just turned me off completely was the whole “meat is dirty and bloody” thing where they show a rack of ribs on a butcher block with blood next to it. Then they show a similar shot but the blood (and meat) is now brown for some reason… clearly to make it look dirty. Obvious manipulation.

      Again, I’m not trying to say anything against vegetarian diets (I find great value in a vegetarian diet), it just seems that this peta video is putting forth a poor strawman argument…

      Comment: Thranil – 23. April 2009 @ 10:38 am

    20. There are much better organizations such as ASPCA who are more concerned with real animal cruelty than they are about making people feel bad about eating meat.

      http://www.aspca.org/fight-animal-cruelty/farm-animal-cruelty/where-we-stand-on-the.html

      While I don’t necessarily agree with all of it — horse meat is very tasty — I think their stance is much more reasonable than PETA’s militant veganism.

      Comment: lneely – 23. April 2009 @ 2:21 pm

    21. I’m a vegetarian for the same reason you still eat meat, Dale…because I want to. Really. Yeah, I’m all for the humane treatment of animals; yeah, I’m all for the environmental benefits; and yeah, I’m all for the health benefits of eating less protein and less animal fats. Whenever people find out I’m vegetarian, they’ll always ask me why — Is it one of those above reasons?
      No, for me it’s for an illogical, emotional reason. I simply don’t **feel** right eating meat (of course it also helps that I don’t like the taste of meat). So there you have it. Dale, you are a more passionate vegetarian than I am, and I truly got a chortle from your post. : )
      Please try not to feel guilty about occaisonally wanting to eat meat — it’s okay. Please give youself and your family more credit for making an effort to eat less meat. Support farmers who practice humane animal husbandry and slaughter. Also, support the ASPCA!

      Comment: bornagainheathen – 23. April 2009 @ 4:13 pm

    22. I’m also in the “I don’t wanna” group. We eat only a little chicken (once a week) and very little beef (once every two months, and then only the stuff from the local organic ranch). Most of our meals are veggie (and by the way – check out Quorn products, they’re great!).

      But here’s the thing: we were just eating dinner with my brother and sister-in-law and she was going off about how she was having trouble with her non-vegetarian friends because she just couldn’t get over “the fact that they are BAD people.”

      It was good to read comments from the vegetarians who are so accepting and good-hearted. I’m that way with my religious friends; I don’t think they’re bad people for practicing their religions (as long as they don’t expect my family to join in). OK, I secretly think their children will end up rejecting religion, but I also think my daughter will probably end up vegetarian… I just want her to make her own decision.

      Comment: marci – 26. April 2009 @ 4:28 pm

    23. Great post Dale. I always really enjoy the posts where you remind us to look back at ourselves — it’s all too easy to have finger pointing contests in the online community of nonbelievers, and I hope that as parents, we can continually encourage empathy and self-reflection.

      My husband and I are what we like to call “Economic Vegetarians”.
      Meat is pretty expensive in New Zealand (at least compared to where we were living in the US), so we’ve basically maintained a vegetarian diet in our home over the last two years out of sheer economic necessity. We do occasionally buy fish or chicken, but it would be a stretch to say it’s even once per month. We often choose to eat meat when we go out to restaurants, which is (again, due to our…um…”modest lifestyle”) relatively rare. We find that balance works well for us.

      I got into a major meat-research mode about a year ago and within a few weeks had read nearly everything written by Peter Singer (the ethicist, who EVERYONE should read!) and many of the other popular books out on the shelves (Fast Food Nation, The Ethics of What We Eat, Chicken on Your Plate, etc). There’s an enormously compelling case out there — ethically, environmentally, etc.

      But of all the books I read, I must say, one of the ones I enjoyed the most was Barbara Kingsolver’s “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle”. While it wasn’t a book about meat-eating, per se, it was all about considering our food sources and it ultimately inspired us to become fascinated with our own backyard. As two American expats with virtually NO gardening experience and no interest in becoming hardcore soil Ph fanatics, my husband and I found ourselves planting veggies and generally becoming fascinated with how easy it is to grow some basic food. Kingsolver’s book is written in a really warm, narrative sense, and she reminded us to be aware of the seasons and soil in our own backyard. It was great. Fully recommended to all. I hope as our little girl grows up, she’ll feel at least partially connected to the environment around her by seeing us working outside to grow some basic things — essentially reconnecting us to the “local”.

      Comment: expatinnewzealand – 28. April 2009 @ 3:47 pm

    24. I have nothing against a vegetarian lifestyle, but I’d go a little further than PETA’s hacked-up shenanigans before converting. Their unspoken motto would seem to be “Animal Rights at Any Cost”, and they will lie, misrepresent, and spread as many mistruths as they think will serve their cause. The health problems “caused by meat” are just the tip of the iceberg – they also lie about the environment, food sustainability, and human biology.

      If you’re interested, here’s a blog post in which I gave GoVeg (one of PETA’s associates) the smackdown:

      http://iapprove.wordpress.com/2009/02/04/gerimorgan-goes-toe-to-toe-with-goveg/

      And here, I went up against the big guys themselves:

      http://iapprove.wordpress.com/2008/12/16/peta-the-environment-and-you-the-ugly-truth/

      If you want to go ahead and be a vegetarian (in a responsible manner), I’m peachy keen with that, but get the information from both sides before you make a decision.

      Comment: AnonyMouse – 29. April 2009 @ 6:44 pm

    25. [...] considered becoming one. Maybe one day I will. At the moment, I don’t feel like I can be (Dale explains my point of view well here). If I was a “don’t judge me” kind of person, I would find a post like Going [...]

      Pingback: “Don’t Judge Me” | PhD in Parenting – 26. September 2009 @ 9:42 pm

    26. I hugely respect the commitment to vegan- and vegetarianism, however, there is much good evidence out there that it is not the best choice health-wise. I used to think it was a health benefit no-brainer to be a vegetarian, but then read books like Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon, Nutrition and Physical Degeneration by Dr. Price, Real Food by Nina Planck and many others you will find if you delve into this pot of knowledge.
      Dr. Price was a dentist who early on in the last century, travelled around the world to find groups of people untouched by civilization. He found many in perfect health, with perfect teeth despite never brushing them – and they all ate animal products. He was unable to find any traditional peoples following a vegan diet. He found some vegetarians that however ensured that women of childbearing age supplemented with animal products. A basic conclusion he formed was that humans are unable to reproduce without animal products – some components, particularly amino acids, and B vitamins, are only present in animal products. I won’t go into it any further, you can look up the sources above for yourself if interested.
      http://www.amazon.com/Real-Food-What-Eat-Why/dp/1596911441

      I think for me the biggest health problem with vegetarianism is that you end up eating a lot of processed food – Boca Burgers? Quorn? – and playing right into the huge industrial conglomerates’ hands from the other side. Food that requires heat and pressures only found in huge factories can’t possibly be good for you for too long – it is not natural. Processed food is probably the biggest threat to our health. Also see The Whole Soy Story by Kaayla Daniel. Soy is not good for you unless it’s traditionally fermented like tempeh, miso, or tamari.

      I would suspect the environmental argument gets complicated too once you factor in the energy used by these manufacturers, the fertilizers required for the giant swaths of corn and soy monoculture. For some of us in the more northern locations, raising animals is less energy intensive than trying to grow vegetables and fruit.

      I do try to eat less meat, and when I eat meat I try to eat ethically raised. I also try to eat less steak and get my animal products from the less desirable bits – lots of broth from bones, or old hens that have finished their egg laying lives, for example. I have subscribed to the vegetarian argument before, but having learned more about these issues, can’t do so anymore, not fully. I am far from understanding all this completely, but I suspect that as with any complex issue, balance will be the key.

      Comment: Spright – 08. February 2010 @ 11:35 am

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