08 September 2022




Topic by James

Essay by Lawrence


Our starting point on this subject must be the fact that in evolutionary terms humans must have had a survival advantage by being able to eat both meat and plants. Today we also know that pre historic hunter gatherers would decimate a whole herd of animals to get to their meat leaving many carcases unclaimed. I use plants as a generic term for all forms flora produce for food and meat for all fauna used for food.


This meat-plant diet was also the foundation of civilized societies and the rise of agriculture. But the risks and benefits of this diet did not change from pre historic conditions. Plants were localised to certain soil conditions and very subject to the elements. Moreover, plants, like humans, do not fare well in cold winter conditions. Plants under an agricultural system, however, also offer high yields of produce to feed many people.


Hunting or even rearing animals is equally risky as plant based food. It also takes time to rear or hunt animals: hunters might take days to find enough animals to hunt to feed the whole group. And under agricultural systems, food would have to be deviated from human consumption to feed the animals over a period of time.


So what are the key philosophical issues regarding vegetarianism? We are all familiar with the arguments in favour of vegetarianism. Basically, there are two key forms of argument in favour of vegetarianism today: compassion for animals and a plant-based healthy diet.


There are also arguments against eating meat on the grounds of being unhealthy. Unfortunately, this is the least valid argument for not eating meat. Firstly, everything is unhealthy if eaten in large quantities, contaminated condition or processed beyond the original nature of the produce. For example it is well documented that meat in the USA is vaccinated for rapid growth and bulk. The European Union has strict quality controls on meat production. Today the availability of fast food will destroy any goodness and benefit of any meat in these menus.


Another modern argument for not eating meat is that beef rearing contributes to global warming. But this is not an issue about meat and cows, but rather how we husband these animals. What is not said about this issue is that huge tracts of jungles, such as the Amazon, are being destroyed as we read this to rear cows for beef production. The problem is that those benefiting from this criminal activity channel their profits to off shore tax havens benefiting no one other than themselves. But in the meantime the jungles are being destroyed, taking away the habitat of indigenous peoples and local fauna and flora, and really contributing to global warming.


Some moral arguments for not eating meat are quite valid. For example rearing animals is very costly and feeding them can easily destroy the grazing grounds if not managed properly. It makes total sense not to eat beef, when a cow gives milk, provides manure and reproduce other cows. It also makes sense not to eat pork especially in regions where foot and mouth disease and other nasties are common. Chicken is well known to be a huge source of salmonella contamination after slaughter (Chicken and Food Poisoning: https://www.cdc.gov/foodsafety/chicken.html).


Plant produce is not necessarily healthier than meat; just because we don’t drop dead after eating something is not evidence that it is healthy. We also think that just because we are eating plant produce and avoiding meat we are getting a positive effect from our food. Look at this quote but read the whole paragraph from “Becoming a vegetarian” (Harvard Medical School: https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/becoming-a-vegetarian): …..becoming a vegetarian won't necessarily be good for you. A diet of soda, cheese pizza, and candy, after all, is technically "vegetarian."  


And then there are pesticides, vegetables and fruit grown for aesthetic looks rather than nutrition, genetically modified plants that may or may not monopolise the produce, and then there is the appropriation of indigenous plants by multinationals to the detriment of local people. The point I am making is that even if we all moved to plant-based diets it is not without its moral and ethical issues.


To put food consumption in perspective consider this quotation from “How Food Waste Affects World Hunger” (https://www.wfpusa.org/articles/how-food-waste-affects-world-hunger/): Globally, one trillion dollars’ worth of food goes to waste every year. That’s one-third of all food produced for human consumption (1.3 billion tons of it).


From our perspective what matters is whether we are aware of the real facts about vegetarianism and the choice to move to a plant-based diet. The moral issues about eating meat do not go away by converting to vegetarianism. After all, we are also up against a biological and evolutionary advantage of having an animal-plant based diet.


In my opinion, food production and food consumption is not just a matter of ethics and health, but also political accountability. If we don’t hold those in authority to account unscrupulous people will take advantage of the situation. Something modern voters seem to be unaware of such a duty and obligation they have as voters.


Best Lawrence


telephone/WhatsApp: 606081813

Email: philomadrid@gmail.com




No comments: