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Meat Or No Meat: Tell Us What You Think And Why

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Eat meat or not? No other food topic is more divisive, and perhaps, none is more important. Our food choices are based on many influences and influence much of our world from our health to the environment to national economies to personal finances. For many, this is a religious issue and there is a strong desire to evangelize. Animals seem to be godlike to both sides.

The Huffington Post Food Section would like to compile the best arguments on the subject or meat, pro, con, or in between, and perhaps help some people decide. There are books on either side of the issue, but we would like to see point and counterpoint side by side. We would also like to debunk some myths.

This debate began 6/23/2010

In the first week of this discussion, it appeared that the arguments could be grouped int six categories. The debate has taken some interesting turns. At the outset by far most of the commenters were veg*ns. Lately it seems that the omnivores outnumber them.

Here's how we can do this together: Have at it in the comments below. Take your best shots. Compose your comments carefully and thoughtfully. Make your case. Back up your statements with facts and references from credible sources, preferably peer reviewed scientific journals. Look for solutions and middle ground. Try to conduct the debate without the use of pejoratives such as "stupid, illogical, ignorant, dumb, etc." I think you have lost the debate if you succeed in driving off the opponent. We encourage you to read this article first before posting. You might also want to follow the links to get the bigger picture.

We will frequently copy the best arguments and paste them here in the main article for all to see and for all to use in continuing the debate. We know this is an emotional issue, but please show respect for opposing viewpoints.

2010-07-08-lisa.jpgI will try to fairly represent the omnivore's point of view and move the debate along. I run a barbecue and grilling website called AmazingRibs.com. You can click here to read more about me. I have invited Lisa Viger (HuffPost account LisaViger), an artist and ethical vegan, to assist in this discussion by suggesting edits to this article and by recommending quotes from your comments to be elevated to the main article. Lisa lives on a small vegetable farm in southern Michigan. Her blog about vegan eating, Raw on $10 a Day (or Less) is at http://rawon10.blogspot.com and features fabulous looking recipes and mouthwatering photos.

1) Health

Vegans/Vegetarians (henceforth referred to as Veg*ns to include both). Meat is bad for you. It contains too much saturated fat and makes you obese which is the root cause of a whole range of health issues: Colon cancer, osteoporosis, diabetes, heart diseases are all higher among omnis.

Omnivores. Most elite athletes are omnis. Entopticon says "Last I checked, which wasn't very long ago, there has still never been one single recorded case of a vegan centenarian."Many veg*ns suffer from vitamin B12 deficiency and that can result in brain shrinkage. Meat is good for you, it contains things you cannot get from veggies. You can stay healthy with a vegan diet, but you need a lot of knowledge and supplements. Veg*ns are more aggressive. HerrMonk says "The most bio-available and highest quality fats for us, come from animal sources. Plant protein is low-quality, and lacks all the essential amino acids to be used as a complete protein source. It is nearly impossible to get enough saturated fat, and omega 3s from plant sources in nature. It's very easy from animal. B12 is an essential micro-nutrient, that is only available from animal sources (despite mis-labeled 'vegan' friendly sources)."

Veg*ns. Food borne disease is a problem with meat. Ground beef is dangerous. It is often contaminated with pathogenic strains of E-coli. It can kill. It is contaminated because the CAFOs keep cattle in contact with feces and the pathogens get on their hide and feed. It gets on the meat in the butchering because they move too quickly and don't take enough care. It is all driven by greed.

vegswan, a microbiologist, says "[I] have been appalled to learn about the diseases fostered and spread by animal domestication. Think of the recent egg and many beef recalls!! Hemorrhagic E. Coli, Smallpox, H1N1, Mad Cow, papillomavirus, pfeisteria (and sea lice in farmed salmon) are primarily promoted by animal farming. Certainly CAFOs are prominent contributors with their untreated cesspools and runoff, how else does spinach get contaminated?!? We all learned about early European settlers spreading diseases and decimating indigenous peoples, not because they were sickly but because THEY RAISED ANIMALS and acquired their germs (Jared Diamond). Another problem is the slashing/burning of virgin rainforest for grazing cattle and farming pigs, which are then exposed to emergent viruses, bacteria and parasites that have never before infected humans. Coupled with the mass transport of animals and their byproducts, everything from multiply antibiotic resistant E. coli and Salmonella to Nipah virus and prions are rapidly being spread worldwide. You also neglected to mention the voluntary moratorium on GMO and cloned beef and milk, which are unlabeled, and so are extremely likely to already be in world food circulation. I abhor animal cruelty and the blight of monocrops and ocean runoff dead zones, but we mustn't ignore the exceptional ability of animals to harbor diseases- especially in dense unsanitary confinement, juxtaposed with food crops.

Omnivores. Sprouts, lettuce, apple juice, and other fruits and veggies have killed as many as meats. The connection between meat and heart disease is being questioned by scientists. Carbs are just as bad, maybe even worse than animal fats and they come primarily from plants. FDA experts say sprouts are more dangerous than ground beef, even when home grown.

StopCensoringMe says "The factory raised meat most eat is a cesspool of unhealthy chemicals" among them antibiotics, steroids, and growth hormones which get into humans and cause a range of problems from antibiotic resistance to early puberty. The farts of omnis smell really bad. That must mean something.

Viger. There [has been] much convo about B12 and that a vegan diet must be unnatural because it's supplemented. I would add, before dairy and other foods had vitamin D added to them as a supplement, rickets (a nutritional deficiency) was very common among omnivores. An omnivorous diet is nearly always supplemented in one way or another.

Goldwyn. There are MANY people below who believe that eliminating meat has made them healthier. That kind of anecdotal info cannot be argued. But it is not science. There is a growing body of science on the benefits and dangers of both diets. Let's start with that which we can all agree: Research seems to weigh heavily against processed foods, especially processed meats. It seems also clear that too much meat can be unhealthy. But there is plenty of evidence that a diet lacking meat can be dangerous unless it is carefully watched to make sure it gets all the proper vitamins, especially B12. It seems that a vegetarian diet can be just as dangerous as an omnivorous diet if it is not tended to carefully with supplements. If it is, it is likely to be more healthy than an omnivorous diet.

As for food borne illness, dangerous strains of e-coli and salmonella are the most common problems in meat and veggies, but there are many other pathogens. All can be killed with proper cooking. Undercooked ground beef and poultry are serious risks, but raw sprouts, lettuce, spinach can also be dangerous. Raw sprouts should probably be outlawed, and homegrown sprouts are just as risky as aw ground beef. Bottom line: Neither diet is more dangerous if practiced properly and intelligently. That's a big if.

2) Evolution, culture, and tradition

Omnivores. Humans have evolved as omnivores. Our teeth are designed for it. Our saliva and digestive systems are designed for meat. Hematite says "Humans have teeth adapted to an omnivorous diet. There is no serious debate about this. Our teeth resemble those of pigs and bears, both omnivores. Humans have the gut of an omnivore. We lack any chambers for the fermentation of cellulose, a hallmark of most true herbivores, but we also lack the short intestine of true carnivores. The shortness of the carnivore intestine is not, as sometimes claimed by veg*ns, because meat is needs to be expelled quickly but because meat is easy to and does not require the large surface area for absorbing nutrients that herbivores need."

Eat or be eaten is the way of the world. In the wild sweet cute animals eat each other all the time. Even our kin, gorillas eat a monkey now and then. And don't think your dog or cat wouldn't eat you if it could.

Veg*ns. Our digestive systems are designed for vegetable matter. Humans were not meat eaters until the Ice Age. So over the course of history, we were vegetarians longer than we were omnivores. But evolutionary history doesn't mean we have to always eat meat. We can evolve again. We now have other options. Technology has freed us from hunting.

Omnivores. Meat has been a part of human culture forever. True, some societies don't eat meat, and a few omit certain meats, but most cultures have meat in their rituals religious ceremonies, and habits. In the US, since the end of WWII it became practically a national mantra to have meat once a day. We were taught that this was a balanced diet.

Veg*ns. We were taught wrong. We now know more and we need to leave behind foolish things as we mature as a society. Christi Vidrio says "At one time we believed that smoking was good for you, but now we know better. Same with meat."

angry expat says "Nobody wants to be told how to eat. Education is important, but fear tactics and disregard for cultural precedent are insulting and harmful to the discussion."

gemini68 says "As a Muslim we are taught that eating meat is permissible (with the exception of scavenger animals such as swine) as long as the meat is slaughtered in a humane or ha'lal way. This has become an issue because of the way meat and animals are handled in this country."

Goldwyn. It doesn't matter what our ancestors did. The world today is vastly different. Each individual is different. Our canine teeth can be used to bite apples as as well as meat. We have to understand that our cultures and traditions arose from ignorance centuries ago. If somebody can prove that lamb is dangerous, then Jews will have to learn to eat eat pot roast for Passover and use the lamb shank just for show. What? They do already? Oh... Nevermind...

3) Taste

Veg*ns. There are a lot of fabulous tasting recipes that don't involve meat or animal products. You can be thoroughly satisfied without eating meat.

Omnivores. Meats taste great. A lot of vegetables taste bad. Nobody likes lima beans or Brussel sprouts. If meat is so bad, how come so many vegan products are made to taste like meat? I have only five sense, why would I restrict the sensory inputs available to me? Omitting some foods would be like poking out an eye.

Veg*ns. Nobody likes liver, heart, or kidneys either.

Goldwyn. Meat tastes good to many people and living without it would be very hard for them. For many people, the culinary arts are as vital as the other arts, and living without meat would be like life without dance. To others it is disgusting. This is the definitive case of taste being a matter of taste.

4) Meat is murder

The arguments that "Meat is Murder" and "Meat is Torture" are closely related, but different in some important fundamental ways, so I have separated them. Both seem to hinge on the definition of "sentience" because veg*ns argue that animals are sentient beings. Merrriam-Webster's online dictionary defines the word as "feeling or sensation as distinguished from perception and thought." At the moment, there is a fairly good and thorough discussion of sentience on Wikipedia. A summary is "Sentience is the ability to feel or perceive. Sentience is used in the study of consciousness to describe the ability to have sensations or experiences. In eastern philosophy, sentience is a metaphysical quality of all things that requires respect and care."

Veg*ns. Animals are our peers in many ways. The earth needs them. We need to show them respect. Killing animals is tantamount to killing people. Who gave us the right to enslave animals to make milk, eggs, and then we eat their flesh? Sele45 says "The main basis of my vegan life is to refrain from taking things that aren't mine. The word 'arrogant' comes from a word meaning 'to take for oneself.' It's supremely arrogant of humans to believe they have more of a right to the body and life of another being than the being itself."

Omnivores. Humans have evolved with a higher consciousness, and have earned their place near the top of the food chain. It is natural selection to put animals and plants to work for us. Hunting is needed to control wildlife populations. Deer would overrun many farms and destroy crops if hunters did not thin the crop. Remember, these animals would not have been born if not for use as food. They owe their lives to their end use.

Plants have feelings too. They respond to environmental changes similar to animals. Their biological systems are intricate and complex, just like animals. Some cooperate to protect the community. But because they do not have faces, we feel free to kill them. What is it about faces that make some species protected? They are very important to the ecology. They make oxygen.

Maslin says "Any definition of 'murder' that produces the answer 'yes' to the question 'Is meat murder' creates statements that must be true but are absolutely crazy, like this one: Blue whales are some of the greatest murderers of all of Earth's history, known to murder 40 million organisms a day when feeding. Nonsensical, but true if 'meat is murder'.

It can't be right. We don't even treat whales like predators. But every one of those 40 million [krill] lives is indeed snuffed out in the whale's maw, along with other species that just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Goldwyn. According to Law.com Murder is "The killing of a human being by a sane person, with intent, malice aforethought (prior intention to kill the particular victim or anyone who gets in the way) and with no legal excuse or authority." So killing animals or plants cannot, by widely used international legal definitions, be murder.

Viger. Maybe we can talk about the actual killing part and what it does to us as individuals and a society, if it does anything at all. Vickster says with her goats she puts a bowl of corn down and then shoots the goat in the head. Grumpyfarmer was talking about raising his first calf when he was in kindergarten. I think that would influence how the person feels about raising and killing animals. I also think it would have to leave a pretty profound psychological wound. I've seen these 4-H kids and it's not a happy thing. But then Vickster makes the case that her goats don't even see it coming and so didn't suffer. Which is kind of a moot point since the vast majority of our animals are killed in large, commercial slaughterhouses, even those raised on very small farms.

Veg*ns. Eating pigs is as barbaric as eating dogs, something most westerners would never do. In fact, there is evidence that pigs are smarter.

Omnis. Dogs are man's best friends. They are family. They live in our homes, sleep in our beds. Our intimate relationship with dogs goes back to the dawn of time. They also eat animals, and we hunted together as a pack to feed each other. Our relationship with dogs is unique. Making them vegans would be cruel to our best friends, and pack members. That said, dogs are not humans, and when they are at deaths door, we practice mercy killing, something we do not do for people.

5) Meat is torture

Veg*ns. Animals have fear, feelings, and rights. Sele45 says "Plants have no pain receptors. Also, plants make about 40% more foliage than they need to live. Their fruits are intended to smell and look appetizing because when they are picked and eaten the seed is more likely to be spread. Being eaten furthers the life cycle of fruits. And foliage is produced in excess."

The way we grow animals, hold them in CAFOs (concentrated animal feeding operations) and factory farms is inhumane. Then we cram them with grains they have problems digesting, then we cram them into slaughterhouses where they can smell and hear death, then we manhandle them just before the kill, and then we kill them inefficiently so some die slowly and in pain. Just watch the films of animal cruelty from CAFOs and slaughterhouses. CAFOs are beneath our dignity. They are inhumane prison camps. They are all about greed, not about providing cheaper food. They harm not only animals but farm workers.

Crows says "I believe that an animal raised on a small farm by a caring farmer is better off than an animal raised on a factory farm. But I do not think someone eating meat should be comforted by the fact it was raised on a small farm. If something is killed needlessly, that is wrong. I think that principle is the reason for many people becoming vegetarians/veg*ns."

Omnivores. MarcEdward says "Factory farms aren't petting zoos - I get it. Your argument is identical is to the Pro-Lifers who post pictures of abortions. Prettiness is not a basis for ethics. Factory farms are efficient - they produce the maximum amount of meat for the least cost, and consumers (especially poor people) benefit. I value all life, but I value human life over the lives of chickens and cows. The question is how much human malnutrition is worth alleviating how much suffering in animals?" But CAFOs and slaughterhouses do not have to be this way. The industry needs reform. All of these problems can be fixed. Many alternative systems are emerging. They need to be mainstreamed. Many omnivores share their distaste for the inhumane conditions in factory farms.

Drumsgirl says "I think open heart surgery is pretty gross and disgusting - and don't want to do it or have it done to me - but I still think it's a good thing society does."

Grumpyfarmer says: "Whenever this debate comes up, someone compares livestock farming to slavery, which in my mind is equating animals with people. Anyone who feels animals are on par with humans has probably not seen a sow eat her baby pigs, a bull calf earnestly trying to breed its own mother, or a hawk eating a rabbit while it is still alive. Do animals deserve humane treatment? Of course they do. But that doesn't mean it is wrong to eat them. So far the veg*ns are OK with animals eating other animals "in nature". I am an animal, and I am part of nature, and any animal I eat is killed much more humanely than any animal eaten by another. So, no guilt feelings."

Goldwyn. This debate depends upon emotion vs. science, IMHO. It seems that those who believe meat is murder draw a line on the food chain ladder, and that line seems to me to be arbitrary. That line seems to be at animals with eyes or faces. But why do eyes make one creature inedible and another edible? Veg*ns hate the smartass question omnivores always throw out about plants having rights and feelings too, but they need to answer it and they are not doing that very well below. They just dismiss it as silly. The other side makes a more powerful case in my clearly biased opinion, that plants are every bit as adept at surviving in their niche in the world as animals, that they are extremely complex individuals and societies, and it can be clearly demonstrated that they can be stressed.

Current research by scientists are discovering that plants and microbes are sentient. They display amazing abilities to communicate, they respont to stimuli, they suffer stress, many do not want to be eaten and have elaborate mechanisms to protect themselves from throns to chemicals. Dr. ML Tortorello, a renowned microbiologist told me that "Every form of life deserves respect, not just charismatic megafauna made popular by Disney. Every species has a role. Every species is integral to the ecosystem. Every species is somebody's hunter, somebody's prey, somebody's partner. To claim that animals have greater rights than plants is an assertion not based on an understanding of the biological world. Death is part of all life. A plant is as highly adapted for its niche as a pig. People who are vegetarians because they think killing animals for food is murder do not understand the biological world. But if they make their diet decision based on their emotional response to charismatic megafauna, that's fine. But it unfairly elevates some species over others."

Dr. Bonnie Bassler of Princeton has done fascinating research on the ability of microbes to communicate and work together. It is discussed in Smithsonian. An excerpt: "Bassler is at the forefront of the fast-growing field of 'quorum sensing,' the study of how microbes communicate with each other as they go about building the vast interlocking infrastructure of life on which we macrobes depend. In recent years she and other microbiologists have discovered that bacteria are not the dull solipsists of long-standing reputation, content to merely suck in food, double in size, divide down the middle and repeat ad infinitum, attending to nothing but their obtuse, unicellular selves. Instead, bacteria turn out to be the original newshounds, glued to their cellphones and Internet chat lines. They converse in a complex chemical language, using molecules to alert one another to who's out there, in what numbers and how best to behave given the present company. Bacteria survey their ranks, they count heads, and if the throng is sufficiently large and like-minded--if there is a quorum--they act. Through chemical signaling, tiny bacterial cells can band together and perform the work of giants."

If my ethics prevent me from killing sentient beings, then I could not even brush my teeth. I think that the argument that society needs to adapt the vegan lifestyle because animals are sentient and vegetables are not is hard to support scientifically.

Veg*ns. Plants don't have neurons so they can't be sentient.

6) Environment & Economics

Veg*ns. We are eating species to extinction especially seafood like swordfish and bluefin tuna. Farm animals have a large carbon footprint. The world's livestock population produces more greenhouse gases than automobiles and a lot of it is methane. StopCensoringMe says "Not only do feed animals consume a great deal of water (and they are often raised in places like California and Texas where water is precious), they also manage to foul water supplies and water tables with the their copious poop."

Omnivores. Surprisingly, rice creates seven times the atmospheric methane than animals. Entopticon says "You want to compare beef to soy acre for acre? Walk out onto an acre that was just plowed to make room for rows of soy. The entire ecosystem, which could have been home to a million or more creatures, is obliterated. When it is filled with rows of shallow-rooted soy plants, the water runoff won't be much better than a parking lot, and the soil, which would have had as many as two billion microorganisms in a single tablespoon, will be devastated. Then walk out onto an acre of sustainable pasture. You will find that it is teeming with life. Research shows that biodiversity and soil vitality actually increases."

Perennials, like grasses, are beneficial. Grasses need animal fertilizer. Together they fortify the soil. The impact of annuals, such as corn, soy, beans, vegetables, legumes, and other row crops is deleterious and destroys topsoil. Klbrz said "one of the biggest (and quite serious) problems facing the Gulf of Mexico was the runoff of fertilizers and pesticides from vegetable crops in the Midwest. Please, don't kid yourself about what farming does or doesn't do to the planet; unless you are buying 100% local, organic, or harvesting from your own backyard, you contribute to serious environmental damage every time you eat soy (especially), corn, and other crops farmed on a large scale." And tractors kill wildlife and destroy habitats.

nikanj says that animals adapt better to climate change "Grazing animals will not care if their pasture gets frosted some fine summer morning, but if that pasture is plowed and planted in corn, the crop will be lost. Grazing animals can provide sustenance in more marginal climatic conditions than is possible with cereal grains.

What about the conflict between veganism and environmentalism? No leather shoes? What form of oil derivatives are in your shoes then? Veggies only? Even in winder? How much energy is wasted getting your carrots to you from South America? How many lakes acidified and fish killed by truck exhaust? How many manatees run over by boats? How many deers flattened by trains?

Vicster says: We know that row crops cause soil erosion while destroying habitats. We also know that the regions where fruits and vegetables can be grown all year long tend to be arid. Talk about unsustainable." Hematite says "Concentrating animals in one place causes a number of environmental problems, but it does not increase the total amount of waste they produce. Bison were producing just as much methane 200 years ago as domestic cows are producing now. And what about the carbon footprint or transporting vegetables north in winter? And don't tell me canning and pickling are solutions. That costs energy, destroy nutrients, and the taste awful.

The Great Banana Debate raged for days. jumbotron16 started it as an example of how all food choices have ramifications, he pointed out that veg*ns often eat a lot of bananas. "Do you have any idea what goes on in the banana industry? (1) Child labor is common place, and a non governmental organization in Ecuador found that children as young as eight were being recruited to work. (2) In an attempt to meet the demand for aesthetically perfect bananas, over 400 types of agrochemicals are used. In fact, more chemicals are used during banana production than any other crop with the exception of cotton. These chemicals can lead to sterility, cancer, and death. (3) In a 1997 study done off the coast of Costa Rica, it was discovered that 60 percent of the coral reefs in Cahuita National Park had been severely damaged due to runoff from coastal banana plantations. (4) Lastly, according to the World Wildlife Fund the banana industry produces more waste than any other agricultural sector in the developing world. It is estimated that for every one ton of bananas produced, there are two tons of waste." He linked to this article as support: http://www.scq.ubc.ca/global-issues-for-breakfast-the-banana-industry-and-its-problems-faq-cohen-mix/

Entopticon says. "A single acre of rainforest can have millions of creatures living on it. Bananas need loose soil with high organic matter, so after a few years the crops are moved, and rainforest is cut down for your dietary choice, killing countless animals. How are the millions of animals whose habitat is obliterated for your banana habit, and the countless animals that die horrible deaths in that process, any less important than ... chickens?"

Veg*ns. Yes, annual monocrops are bad for the environment, but most are grown to feed animals.

Meat processing plants are well known as major hirers of illegal/undocumented workers say veg*ns. So are farmers, say the omnis.

Omnivores have voiced concern about the economic impact on farmers, US society, and poor people worldwide if corn subsidies are removed or if meat was more heavily regulated or taxed. Honeybear64 says. "Does that fact that abolishing slavery meant the total upheaval of the Southern economy, and the economic devastation of the lives of slave owners, automatically mean that abolishing it was wrong? Same question with those threatened by boycotts of animal agriculture. Problematic, to say the least.

"So often we veg*ns try to portray all farmers as factory farmers, because it's so much easier to turn people against horrific cruelty than against "Old MacDonald". The factory farm is such an easy and convenient target."

Goldwyn. Seems to me that this is an area that is unsettled. Both sides have strong arguments and plenty of useful data from good sources much of which contradicts other sources. It seems to me, from wading through the links you post, that NOBODY really knows how much water a cow uses a day when you include the water needed for its feed and other peripheral uses. Vickser says: "You do realize these animals will go extinct if they aren't raised for food, right?" Goldfarmer sums it up well: "Humans have the responsibility of stewardship - animals do not. And that is simply the condition of being a human living on Earth."

The middle ground

Charsan says: For every fact or opinion debunking a myth about vegetarianism you'll find another equally compelling to convince you not to eat meat. We get lost in the weeds trying to convince the other side they're wrong. What's the point? Eating food is a one of the basic necessities of life, developed over eons and what we eat today as a species varies by culture around the globe. Rather than focusing on what you're eating, to the exclusion of other questions, like where did my food come from? Is this even food. Do I really want to eat this? How does eating this make me feel? How do they treat the animals in a factory? The first step to better living is becoming conscious of what you are doing. Forget the fad diet or the six dollar Angus beef burger. Think, eat and enjoy!

Cameron Brown says: Something I don't understand is why the debate is always framed as "meat lovers" vs. "vegetarians". There's obviously nothing seriously unhealthy about eating some meat - it's the *amount* that we eat that is the problem.

If everyone in the US (and other rich countries) simply cut back a bit on their meat consumption - e.g., go veggie a couple of days a week - it would be hugely beneficial both to them and to the environment.

I think the militant vegetarian approach is misguided - very rarely will a devoted meat-lover switch to being a full vegetarian. We should focus on the middle ground of encouraging people to eat meat in sensible quantities. As such, I'm a big fan of the "meatless Monday" kind of efforts I've seen here and there. That's the right approach in my mind. I sort of maintain a blog on this topic: http://www.semiveggie.com

Jsarets says: It's difficult to make objective arguments about the ethical ramifications of eating animal products. This vector involves attempts to reconcile the nature of life and consciousness with the extension of predator/prey relationships in the food web to the unique human practice of agriculture, and it invariably centers upon subjective belief systems.

Nakigaia says. When people argue from dogma it becomes impossible to have a discussion. The best source of guidance I have found is listening to what my body needs in any moment. Sometimes a great salad seems just perfect and other times I need a little beef. Some people have the physiology or body design to eat strictly vegetarian and others don't. I have seen people try to live up to a belief about food while starving their bodies by not providing them with what they need. If you are hungry for a hamburger and it tastes really good you probably needed it. If you're eating one out of habit or boredom then that is about consciousness, not food.

I'm now 60 years old, have experimented with several food "dogmas" (including macrobiotics), and consider myself a conscious eater. Over the years I have found that preaching to convert other people seldom works and is more a reflection of the needs of the one preaching. I consider it more effective to become something for oneself and model the outcome. If your outcome doesn't match your expectations you are free to move on without having to eat crow, pun intended.

Definitions

Vegan or Total Vegetarian. Eats only foods from plants including fruits, vegetables, legumes, grains, seeds, and nuts.

Lactovegetarian. Eats plant foods and dairy products.

Ovo-lactovegetarian or lacto-ovovegetarian. Will eat eggs.

Pescetarian. Eats fish but no other animal flesh. Unclear if this person eats dairy and/or eggs.

Semi-vegetarian. Will not eat red meat, but may eat fish or fowl.

Veg*n. A contraction of vegan and vegetarian meant to encompass both approaches.

Flexitarian. Eats meat only once or twice a week. Maybe three time. It's flexible.

Omnivore. Eats everything edible. Might even eat veg*ns.

Carnivore. Eats only meat.

References

Here are some relevant links. If you have others, please share. I will show a bias to well researched and documented articles by established authorities and reputable sources.

Position of the American Dietetic Association and Dietitians of Canada: Vegetarian diets.

The Vegetarian Myth.

The Humane Myth.

Livestock's Long Shadow.

Allan Savory - Keeping Cattle: cause or cure for climate crisis?

Grass-fed beef has a larger carbon footprint.

Ecological Integrity: Integrating Environment, Conservation and Health.

Humans are vegetarians by nature.

Humans are omnivores by nature.

Oldest Evidence of Stone Tool Use and Meat-Eating Among Human Ancestors Discovered: Lucy's Species Butchered Meat

Eating meat led to smaller stomachs, bigger brains.

What vegans need to know about Vitamin B12 also this Information Sheet from the Segetarian Society.

The darker side of soy.

Farm subsidy database.

The Expressions of Emotions in Man and Animals by Charles Darwin and others.

Can meat eaters be environmentalists?

The relationship between meat consumption and colorectal cancer remains controversial.

The American Heart Association's dietary recommendations for vegetarians.

Food, Inc.

Fast Food Nation

Supersize Me

King Corn

U.S. could feed 800 million people with grain that livestock eat, Cornell ecologist advises animal scientists future water and energy shortages predicted to change face of American agriculture (1997)

Arguments against the idea that plants are sentient.

http://www.igac.noaa.gov/newsletter/highlights/1996/ch4.php Sources of methane in the atmosphere. Some very surprising data.

Lifestyle Changes Lead to Dramatic Cancer Increase among Inuit People (formerly known as Eskimos)

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Craig "Meathead" Goldwyn runs a popular website about barbecue, AmazingRibs.com, with both meat and meatless recipes. I eat meat about five nights a week, rarely at lunch, and never for breakfast. I have read extensively on the subject of meat pro and con and often question the impact of my choices. I was blown away by the powerful arguments against meat in Jonathan Safran Foer's landmark book "Eating Animals". Then I read Lierre Kieth's compelling "The Vegetarian Myth". The middle ground is staked out profoundly by Michael Pollan in "The Omnivore's Dilemma", probably the most important book about food since Upton Sinclair's "The Jungle" drew back the curtain on the Chicago stockyards in 1906. I shall try to be fair and open minded in my comments and my selection of arguments to elevate to the main article. If I'm not, I'm sure you will let me know.

Lisa Viger is an artist and ethical vegan. I live on a small vegetable farm in southern Michigan. My blog about vegan eating, Raw on $10 a Day (or Less) is at http://rawon10.blogspot.com and features delicious recipes and mouthwatering photos.

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