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Even More Things Meat-Eaters Say

This article originally appeared on PETA Prime.

I’ve posted a couple of times before about things that meat-eaters like to say to vegetarians and vegans. But there’s no end to the arguments that some people use in an attempt to defend their dietary choices.

‘If every person in the world went vegan, what would we do with all those billions of chickens, pigs, and cows?’

When meat-eaters ask this question, they’re really saying: “You’ll never get everyone to go veg because then we’d be stuck for years feeding all those animals!”

It would be wonderful indeed if everyone went vegan overnight, but given that it’s likely to be a more gradual process, this “problem” takes care of itself. The market for animal-derived products works just like any other market: as demand decreases, farmers will reduce the number of animals that they raise. This works even if demand drops very quickly, because most farmed animals are slaughtered when they are very young. Most cattle intended for beef are sent to slaughter at around 1 year of age. Pigs are killed at just 6 months old, and chickens at as young as 7 weeks. Cows who are used for milk production are often killed at 4 or 5 years of age, and egg-laying hens at just 2 years.

‘But if everyone went vegan, farmed-animal species would go extinct!’

The threat of human-caused extinction looms for many species, such as tigers, polar bears, and many species of whales and sharks. The disappearance of these animals destabilizes ecosystems and creates ripple effects that put even more species at risk.

But domesticated animals are a different story. The role of cows, pigs, and chickens in the ecosystem can best be described as destructive. Just think of overgrazed grasslands in the American West or lagoons of pig manure polluting rivers and groundwater. In addition, many domesticated animals have been so genetically altered for fast growth and high productivity that their very existence is nonstop misery. Modern pigs, unlike their wild ancestors, grow so large that they can suffer crippling leg and foot problems if they are not slaughtered at a young age. Cows used by the dairy industry produce so much milk that their depleted bodies break down after only a few years. And many chickens succumb to heart problems and broken bones before they even make it to the slaughterhouse. Surely, the “extinction” of a human-created species whose members have been designed to suffer is no tragedy.

Meat-eaters who claim that they eat animal-derived products because they are concerned about extinction might be running out of justifications for their choice to support a cruel industry.

‘I’ve thought about going vegan, but I could never give up barbecued ribs/cheesecake/fried chicken/[insert favorite animal product here].’

I call this one the “all or nothing” argument: “I can’t possibly be 100 percent vegan, so what’s the point of making any changes to my diet?” My answer: “Who says it has to be all or nothing?”

One of the biggest benefits of a vegan diet is that it reduces demand for animal-derived products, which in turn reduces the number of cows, pigs, and chickens who live short and miserable lives to be slaughtered for food. Anything that reduces the demand helps these animals.

So, if you can’t go vegan because of your lifelong love of barbecued ribs, fine. Give up some other kinds of meat instead and at least you will be sparing some chickens and fish. Is cheese your favorite food? Maybe you can start helping animals by giving up beef, chicken, or eggs. Is the very idea of a vegetarian diet daunting because you just like the taste of meat? How about committing to meatless Mondays and trying some tasty plant-based recipes once a week? Even a small change in your diet is very much worth doing. Don’t let perfectionism get in the way of helping as many animals as you can!

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  • lexi63 says:

    the amount of sheer ignorance is abundant when i hear people say we must eat meat to survive, i am surprised these people can find the on switch on their computer. they are unbelievably misinformed. all anyone has to do is GOOGLE “vegan diet for health and well being” or ” vegan diet for the athlete” – or vegan diet for chrohns” or “vegan diet for expectant mothers ” & find limitless articles on the very best foods for you to remain healthy and carefree eating vegan. stop the ignorance , stop letting ignorant people say stupid shit, EATING MEAT IS UNNECESSSARY and actually is a detriment to your health. As humans are biologically HERBIVORES. our bodies where not designed to eat meat,please inform the meat eating supporters that they are complete ignorants .

  • Lily says:

    I have been vegetarian since the sixth grade, and I’ll only eat organic dairy products. I feel like such a better person by doing this, but I’ve still got questions as to how legitimate ‘organic’ dairy companies really ARE. All I can say for sure is that vegetarianism is grand.(:

  • Carolyn says:

    I’ve been vegetarian for a year now and I’ve heard so many times by my family and friends that I’m going to get sick. My parents are worried about me getting a eating disorder if I go vegan, like if I go over to a friend’s house, so I went to the doctor and she said that she thinks it isn’t all that healthy and I’m going back does anyone have any suggestions on what I should do?

  • Julian says:

    I’ve only been veg for about 6 weeks with a long term goal of going vegan. I’m also hitting the gym and putting on great amounts of muscle without meat. There are so many people with great/healthy body’s who are vegan, check out “Robert Cheeke”

  • Kim says:

    Hi. I’ve been a vegatarian for 30+ years and have ‘heard it all’ about my preferred diet. Over the years I feel the negative remarks come from people who really don’t want to look at (or shown) that their diet of meat is actually very cruel. Lead by example guys, stay strong, wear your vegatarianism/veganism as a badge of honour!

  • Issis says:

    I find it stunning that people who create the demand for commercial agriculture and live lives based on extreme cruelty to animals dare to criticize vegetarians for choosing a more humane lifestyle. Once people know of the suffering required for the few moments of pleasure they claim derives from eating dead and often bloody animal parts, there is no excuse for not making an effort to change their eating habits. Still, most resent even the suggestion that they do so. Virtually all educated people now have some sense of how animals suffer in commercial farming, but most choose to play dumb … Most of my otherwise kind, generous, pet loving friends somehow rationalize their behavior. These same people refuse to sign petitions or otherwise work for better conditions for farm animals … It is a “see no evil, hear no evil” method of ensuring they can continue otherwise indefensible and inhumane lifestyles.

  • Khormin says:

    I eat meat because I enjoy eating meat. I don’t trust what has been shown as the ‘standard’ of slaughterhouses in my country, as I have seen with my eyes evidence contrary. I don’t enjoy the thought of cutting meat from my diet. I can, however, say that I have chosen to ensure that the meat I enjoy is from producers who treat their produce properly, or I catch it myself.