Vegetarianism. Part I

Vegetarianism is a controversial subject. Many people consider the possibility of becoming vegetarians, yet they are usually bombarded with conflicting viewpoints that take one extreme or another. It is generally discussed dogmatically, emotionally and with too much emphasis on moral aspects. This is a great pity, for many people, who would willingly become vegetarians if presented with a few reasonable and convincing advantages of vegetarianism over non-vegetarianism, are instead frightened away, often with a strong impression that vegetarians are fanatics.

The extreme advocates of vegetarianism urge everyone to immediately abstain from eating meat, in terms that suggest that if we don’t we will ‘drop into the fire of Hades’. They believe meat is an unnatural food. This, of course, is a matter of opinion, for meat has been eaten by man for countless generations throughout known history and long before. It therefore seems a little presumptuous to consider that meat is an unnatural food. How can it be unnatural if man can live off it and obtain many useful nutrients required by the body?

Other groups suggest that it is immoral to eat meat, for it necessitates destroying life. However, this implies that the law of nature is wrong; that lions, tigers and other carnivorous animals are committing ‘sin’. This opinion cannot be correct, for it is a rule of physical existence that certain forms of life sustain themselves by killing and eating other forms of life. It is not immoral when a lion kills and eats a zebra; it is designed to act in this way. It is natural for a lion to kill and totally unnatural for a lion to start eating grass.

All arguments can continue in a circular path and this controversy is no exception, for the extreme follower of vegetarianism will say: “We agree that it is natural for certain animals to kill, but man is a more highly evolved being and it is a sign of this higher evolution that one leaves meat eating.” Well maybe, but is a banana plant superior to a lion because it does not eat meat? Of course this is a nonsensical comparison, only meant to illustrate that one can argue in circles while trying to justify vegetarianism from this point of view. Remember also that every form of life from man to plants destroys other forms of life; we are continually destroying small organisms, bacteria, etc. without even knowing it. The destruction of animals for meat eating is merely an obvious example. It is only for this reason that it is controversial. So we feel that any moralistic approach to meat eating is to be discarded as untenable, or at least highly disputable, and certainly is not a valid reason for most people to become vegetarian.

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