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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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  • yoli says:

    well ive been a vegetarian for almost 2 years, and i have gotton so many mean remarks and bad looks because they just dont understand my point of view, but they always say, one person isnt gana change anything, but we all know that one person does make a difference. also my boyfriend has been trying to be a vegetarian, and hes been doing ok, for about 2 months maybe, and its funny because he used to be a huge smoker, and he quit for about 1/2 a year or so, and he said its harder to quit smoking than to be a vegetarian. but what i hate about it is that when he says pto people that he is trying to be a vegetarian he looks at me and people always give me dirty looks because they think its my fault, but i told him, you can eat meat, i just dont want to know if you do, i prefer not knowing, also ive been trying to go vegan, but its so hard, milk is my best friend…. how can i make it easier, then again i have always thought, it would be easier if there was a store of just vegetarian/vegan products, it would make life so much easier!!!!!!

  • Francisco Benavides says:

    A common argument is that a vegan or vegetarian diet is not appropriate and would not provide the necessary nutrients. This of course is false and it has been clarified by the American Dietetic Asociation in a one page “Vegetarian eating: fact vs fiction” publication.

  • Brittany says:

    the weirdest thing i’ve heard was that im not really a vegan because my house kills gophers!

  • Lexi says:

    I really used to love meat but, just recently that has changed after seeing some of the things on peta’s website I have become a vegetarian. Thank you peta for opening my eyes to the horror of eating animals.

  • Animllover85 says:

    Omg… Everyone its crazy I just recently became vegan and so many people has judged me its crazy

  • Ellen says:

    I’ve been a vegetarian for 2 years and I thought the idea of becoming vegan was pretty scaring because I thought it was all or nothing. I love dairy products. That’s my kryptonite. But I feel better after reading this article. Being vegetarian seems so strange to people…It really isn’t that difficult. And the health benefits are immeasurable. I haven’t had acne or painful menstrual cramps since I became veg. Everyone has different reasons for deciding to become vegetarian or vegan but I’m happy to say that it is the best decision I have ever made.

  • Nick says:

    i love this topic, i get so many reasons/responses/questions bout me not eating meat. 1 thing i dont remember seeing is “if u dont eat the meat, its wasteful” and i say “ur wasting other options by being meat eater, u ‘cant’ eat tofu because its fake meat?” another one i hear is “ur not a real man if u dont eat meat” this one, i havent come to a good response for. so i just say “i do everything else that qualifies me as a man”. i like the one wear the say we need to eat them so they dont go extinct. thats kinda like saying “lets dirty this room so we can clean it up again!”

  • Kalyn says:

    I really enjoyed this article. People are always asking me how I can possibly live witout meat. Honestly, it’s starting to get really annoying. I have been a vegetarian for over a year now, and it still seems like it is the only thing people can talk about. I just tell them that after a while you don’t crave it anymore and then it isn’t a big deal. Meat eaters are always critical about my diet.

  • jenlynnr says:

    I was a vegetarian for 7 years. Everyday i got judged and asked why. After joining the military, i started to eat meat again. I ate it for about 6 months. I watched “Food inc.” a documentary with my family. They felt horrible for giving me so much grief and discouragement about eating meat. If you havent seen it already, i highly encourage you to. It changed my whole outlook on everything again. sometimes i just need a reminder of why it is i choose to be vegetarian. good luck everyone! veggies <3

  • iain says:

    Right ON, Regan! Wish I’d been that smart when I was your age (yeah, I dunno why guys are so slow about this; I think they have the idea that eating meat is “manly”. Yes, it’s really stupid.) Kathy’s and Hope’s posts are wonderfully encouraging too. Thanks everyone.

  • Hazel Booth says:

    On hearing that I’m a vegetarian, I can’t believe how many people have said to me, “You still eat chicken though don’t you?” or “You still eat fish don’t you?” What on earth do they think a vegetarian is!

  • Hope says:

    I really like this article, since I see some of the silly arguments I actually have heard. It’s nice to actually have a logical answer. Plus, for anyone who says they “love” meat, the truth is really they love salt/fat/grease/texture, which is totally fine. But you can get that from seitan, which is gods gift to vegetarians <3 we didn't become veg because we didn't like the taste of meat (most of us that is), we did because we don't want to contribute to this horrible corruption and disgusting industry known as animal agriculture. If we can get away with having soy chorizo and soy meat crumbles on our daiya nachos, that's the key. Personally, I love cooking with whole food, plant based stir fry and soups and pasta, but something familiar, what I grew up on, is nice. There are so many meat-free, meat options out there.

  • Regan says:

    i am 14 and have been veggie since i was 6 or 7. i have been vegan for almost a year now. one of my friends is a vegan and we have convinced many of the other girls in our class to go veggie. don’t know whats up with the guys though!!! 😉 my family is pretty much unsupportive of the whole vegan thing – my mom called me a freak last night, but i dont really care what anyone else thinks. i know what i am doing is right, and let’s just say i will be happy i did this when everyone around me is dying of heart attacks!! KARMA, much?!

  • kathy says:

    Some people posted that people need to eat meat in certain regions but that doesn’t make sense. The people could simply eat what they are feeding the animals, right? That would be tremendously healthier.

    “Think of the fierce energy concentrated in an acorn! You bury it in the ground and it explodes into a giant oak. Bury a sheep, and nothing happens but decay.” – George Bernard Shaw

  • cdrista215 says:

    This is an excellent article, thank you for posting.

  • Jen says:

    Thank you Sofia and Ashley! Ashley, I feel the exact same way, I don’t know how Mama’s-to-be can consume so much junk without any consideration for their babies and their own health. I used to be a complete diet coke fiend (my only vice!) but haven’t touched a drop since I found out I was pregnant for that reason. I’ve heard about a Mother who consumed greasy kebabs and 8 LITRES of coke a day when she was pregnant, to me that’s as bad as smoking!

  • A-elle says:

    I have been a vegetarian for almost a year now, and i am very proud of myself. I am the only one in my family that is vegetarian other than my aunt. i am 14 and only a few of my friends support me. Even my teachers say its stupid. but my advise to them is to get on this website and see for themselves how the world treats animals, and how wrong it is.

  • Brigitte says:

    Vegetarian 2 months, and vegan 2 weeks now… I FEEL FABULOUS!!! I’ve never felt this good in my life! Aches and pains are gone, energy through the roof! It feels like being reborn at 44

  • Kris says:

    I finally went vegan in January. It took me a few years of trying. All at once was overwhelming. It finally did it by cutting out one non vegan food at a time and replacing it with something plant based. I am so happy that I did it. I eat so much healthier now. It has been an adventure. The question I get asked the most is where do you get your protein. People are obsessed with protein. I tell them there is some protein in almost everything you eat and they look surprised. As a society we believe what we are taught and we are taught that we have to eat animal products to stay healthy. If we want things to change it has to start with what we teach our children.

  • Nicci says:

    @ Lily W., it says in the bible that christians are supposed to follow a kosher diet… but I have never met a christian that does anything close to what theyre “supposed to do”… and jab back with “well you’re defying the law of gad because only he can decide who is good/bad”
    I personally am non-religious. Not agnostic or atheist, I just dont care.
    @Todd: I believe in being a vegetarian because we dont NEED to kill animals… if i was starving to death and came across an animal, hell yeah I would eat it. As for people in mountainous regions, this would apply. I fight more against the industrialization of the meat industry than anything. The grasslands are over-eaten, and many plants ripped up by the roots- also, cows and such are domestic and essentially not supposed to be there- so think about the impact on native species.And animal poo can serve as fertilizer, but there is so much of it that it often seeps into the ground and into underground water supplies, which can be extremely hazardous to all inhabitants of the area, and wherever that water travels.

  • Narayana says:

    @trying vegetarian
    I am 27 years old and have been raised vegetarian, I have never eaten any meat and I am really healthy and physically fit. Most meat eaters dont realise that the majority of protien in the western diet comes from wheat, it has a protein content of about 12%. Seventh day adventists do not eat meat, in a studyt conducted on 100,000 plus vegetarian 7th day adventists compared with none vegetarian 7th day adventists vegetarian lived longer and had less issues with disease. I hope this eases your health concerns, but remember abstaining from meat doesn’t mean your diet is healthy, its important to eat a wide variety of whole foods, fresh fruit and veges plus healthy oils and protien rich foods from other sources. Much Love and GOOD LUCK 🙂

  • choo says:

    Hi.I have been a vegan for two years. my family eats meat and all the people around me say that I have not taken a wise decision by becoming a vegan. They say i would become weak and will acquire diseases. But I am quite healthy, in fact i feel very energetic and happy. I am glad that some of my friends support me.I am proud to be a vegan.

  • Ali says:

    Hi, I am very new to vegetarianism (one week to be exact) and started off doing it for health reasons, but after finding this website i am seriously thinking about becoming vegan, even if it is just 80 percent, though it will be very hard to cut everything out at least in the beginning! But i loved this article i was never a real questioner like some of the people mentioned, and i completely agree that animals shouldnt be abused and killed in the ways that they are. Hopefully i will be able to stick to this cause i am doubting myself, and am really craving some good southern style brisket, or a cheese burger right now! But i am on a new adventure and a mission to help stop animal crualty. I love that there are people out there that have the same ideas and views, and it makes me have a little faith in myself and helps, me believe that i can do this!! Thank you

  • Wymzee says:

    A couple of the comments I’ve heard are silly – just my brother in law giving me a hard time… but he says:
    If a cow could eat you, it would. Also,
    Eating vegetables is cowardly cause they can’t run away! At least animals have a chance.
    Usually I just roll my eyes. He knows what my answers are. But.. I’m also pregnant at the moment and a lot of people ask if there is anything special that I have to take because I’m a vegetarian. I like to point out that no – I even have sufficient iron levels from my diet when it is really common for anemia to develop in pregancy.

  • kathy says:

    @Todd,it sounds like you’re coming up with even more excuses. I grow vegetable and don’t use any animal products for fertilizers. Must I say that people can mow and cut grass? You realize there are more food options than meat, dairy, and “certain vegetables.” I really think a lot of people have never realized all the nutritious culinary options that exist because our society has been so brainwashed by the meat and dairy industries. Grains, beans, soy, grasses, sprouts, seeds, nuts…. I actually have a much more varied diet now that I’m vegan. I found so many different kinds of foods that I never took the time to consider before.

  • Kit Wood says:

    I’m constantly being told that it’s ‘unnatural’ to be vegetarian…

    My girlfriend turned vegetarian when she was six and she was constantly being told that it would stunt her growth (she is now 6 foot tall) and stop brain development.

  • agnes says:

    ‘I’m a vegetarian’ .. ‘Really? What do you eat then?’ .. ‘Um, vegetables, dummy!’ Aren’t meat-eaters funny?!

  • MycoBovine says:

    @Todd – these are good points….. “The role of cows, pigs, and chickens in the ecosystem can best be described as destructive.” – this is typical of PETA vastly oversimplifying the siutation, animals can harm OR heal a landscape, and indeed, the world would be worse off if we abandoned all formal partnerships with our food animal domesticates…. We need to end the competition between livestock and humans for food – obviously, and focus on working with animals for all of our (human and animal) well-being….

  • Terry Dyck says:

    Eating less animal source foods is healthy but it is also good for improving your carbon footprint. The biggest source of Green House Gases on this planet come from livestock according to the United Nations International Panel on Climate Change. The 20 Billion livestock animals on this planet produce tons of Methane and Nitrous Oxide which are powerful GH Gases. If every one followed the Meat Free Monday exercise and then increased Meat Free to more days of the week and moved to electric cars we could immediately solve our Climate Change problem, which is an extremely urgent problem that needs a lot more focus.

  • Julie says:

    My aunt once told me that I should start eating meat again cuz it helps your skin have color!! I just quoted dr oz and said “I don’t eat things with parents or a face”. A few weeks later I recommended that she eat her German Shepard cuz she was looking a little pale!! lol she didn’t enjoy that!

  • Sofia says:

    it’s kind of funny that anyone would say that becoming a vegetarian would make you ill. after becoming a vegetarian, I caught fewer colds, had little to no stomach problems, etc. Since becoming vegan six months ago, I have been in perfect health with not so much as a headache while my family has been infected with norovirus and strep throat, both of which I did not catch. There are too many anti-biotics in animal products that are terrible for our immune systems because they make us more susceptible to illness.

    Also kudos to you, Jen, for the healthy pregnancy. But it is not surprising, considering how healthy this lifestyle is.

  • BB says:

    I think it’s funny when I say I’m vegetarian, and then people say ‘but do you still eat chicken and fish?’ …. well, no, they are meat….? Unfortunately our society teaches people that good health comes from incuding meat in the diet. My youngest son (he eats meat and vegetarian meals)came home from school and told me ‘mum, my teacher said meat is really healthy for you, but I know it’s not’ … out of the mouths of babes <3

  • Morganewelsh says:

    The weirdest thing in the omnivores/vegan relationship is how it seems to upset people that we don’t eat meat! People ask you why you are vegan, you tell them the 1001 reasons why, and they start gettin all fussy about how you don’t get proteins (their best argument obviously), how humans have been designed to eat meat (wrong! And that’s why they have to cook it) and how the fact that animal breeding is the biggest source of pollution is wrong and has been made up by some hippies. Everytime, it ends up in a row you didn’t start or took part in but still revolves around you! That’s why now, when asked, I just say “check vegan on Wikipedia, it says it all!”. Saves time and energy!!

  • Ashley says:

    @Jen, I totally agree and commend you for eating HEALTHY for you and your twins. I was recently at a work meeting and the manager ordered pizza for everyone. I passed of course, and my pregnant co-worker ate half a large pizza while laughingly saying “I’m eating for two!” It just saddens me, I would never be putting so much junk into my body especially if I were pregnant.

  • Bonnie says:

    I live in the bible belt, so the most common for me is “God put them on this earth to be eaten. Are you saying god was wrong?”

  • Rachel says:

    Everyone always says to me that animals are meant to be eaten, so therefore surely in my opinion so are humans??? but when an animal attacks a human they are usualy put down so surely humans who attack animals and then eat them should also be put down????

  • Brittany says:

    I get crap from everyone about being a vegetarian. Everything from you don’t get enough protein to I am at the top of the food chain. People even say if we didn’t eat these animals they would eat us. Last time I check cows eat grass not people. Or what do you eat? Like there aren’t thousands of vegetarian options. I’ve heard it all. It is ridiculous

  • Chrissie says:

    I always get ‘whats the point if its only you giving up meat? wont make a difference.’..i hate this question. I just say ‘I do make a difference and if more people became veggie then it would be a bigger difference.’ Im proud of being veggie and have been for 6 months now and my next step is vegan :]

  • Audra says:

    I’m a proud vegetarian,yes I still have dairy yogert and cottage cheese.I might have this 1-3 times a month.I have been told that you can only be vegan to make a diffrence.Sorry to the ones who feel that way.Yes I might have dairy but what are they doing by eating animal.I am trying to cut out the dairy that I do have but there isn’t many places here where I live where I can buy Vegan cheese’s.I do wish that others would at least try to stop eating animal.Have they ever wondered how they get their meat?Its sick to think about

  • carol Lynn says:

    I”m a proud vegatarian and have been for some years now. I do still use dairy products and depsperately try to do the all farm raised all natural, nothing from factory farms at all, but its hard because what you read on a package rarely rings true. It was a snap to give up meat and poultry but I admit that dairy is sure a struggle.

  • Brenda Greer says:

    being a christian and a vegan, what I hear a lot is “god put animals here for us to eat.” apparently those christians never actually read the bible, because everything I read in it says the opposite.

  • Bea says:

    I hope people read this. I’m not a full on vegeterian but I try.
    I love all animals even the ones that i’m scarred of. Good advice about at least once a week try not to eat meat. Thank you

  • Jen says:

    Sorry, I’ve got some more things to add! When PETA post information on going vegan on facebook, I tend to share it on my page for anyone who might be interested (ya never know who might read it!) but *every time* without fail, I get comments on it from a meateater saying I’m shoving this information down their throat. Maybe if I bombarded peoples own pages with the information, who clearly had no interest, then I would be but sharing something on *my* page that I find interesting is not the same! Some meateaters seem to get so offended just by hearing you’re a vegan that they jump off the deep end and accuse you of forcing it on them. Well no, you hijacking my page to shout at me about why *I* should eat meat is YOU shoving YOUR opinions down MY throat, not the other way round!

  • Kay says:

    My favourite arguement for eating meat comes from my 87 year old Nan, she always tells me I will get ankle cancer from not eating meat because I’m missing out on the ‘right’ proteins! Specifically ankle cancer! I’ve tried explaining to her that I do get enough protein and I’m less likely to get cancer from not eating meat but shes a bit barmy and forgets by next time we see each other! I’m now resigned to telling her I’ll look out for lumps!

  • Lily Wanous says:

    Meat eaters tell me all the time that I am either a “bad Christian” or a “disrespectful Christian” because I am vegetarian. It drives me nuts. I just tell them, “Well I’m not killing one of Gods creatures. So why would he be mad?”

  • Todd says:

    OK I am a vegan – about a 97 percenter. Have never felt better about my health or our fellow creatures. My questions are several….what would happen to people say in the mountainous regions of Afghanistan where it is impossible to raise most “vegetables”. Also for healthy pastures and grasslands they must be eaten down to the ground from time to time. Also what about the animal products that serve as fertilizer for veggies. These issues concern me and I have not seen good answers to them.

  • Saka says:

    I like the article & i’m proud to be a vegetarian..

  • Jen says:

    I just read through all the articles, and they are so spot on! I’ve been a vegan for 4 years (vegetarian for 10 years prior), and am currently pregnant with twins and the amount of ignorant comments you get in that situation are ridiculous! Just researching ‘vegan twin pregnancy’ online, I found a forum of bodybuilders saying that there’s practically a zero percent chance of vegans conceiving twins naturally, and how they’re surprised that we can get pregnant at all!
    A work colleague asked me the other day why I’m vegan, and I explained why to her and she said to me ‘oh lifes too short to worry about that, I enjoy my food!’ As if I don’t enjoy MY food and excuse me, but life is too short for those poor animals you’re selfishly consuming! That’s not too mention the people who have commented that I need to put my babies first and give up my vegan diet for the duration of my pregnancy, as if I’m committing child cruelty. My twins are growing perfectly healthily on my HIGHLY NUTRITIOUS diet, thank you very much! Phew, glad to get that rant off my chest!

  • Cindy says:

    I love animals… They eat, sleep, love, feel pain just as we do. I believe they are here for us to learn from not to cause them pain and suffering. Cindy

  • Trying vegetarian says:

    Someone told me if I stop eating meat I would be sick all the time. I am not sure where this comment came from but I was really surprised and it seems there is a lot of people believing it. Another comment was about the lack of proteins on the diet.