The COVID-19 outbreak isn’t the first time humanity’s odd eating habits have gotten us into hot water. Is it finally time to rethink our diet?
The word “vegan” is triggering for many. Those self-assured, shaming, dogmatic cretins, right?
When will they shut up and let me enjoy my bacon?
Somebody not only existing — but thriving — from eating plant-based can be annoying enough for meat-lovers who claim we “need” meat or that it’s “natural” for humans to consume. So once vegans and vegetarians actually dare to mention the reasoning behind the choices they make, and the benefits they reap, an ugly rage bubbles in the heart of every meat-eater in earshot.
The meat-eater often takes this as a personal attack on their lifestyle and capacity for moral judgment. And it can even threaten to make them call these into question themself. After all, how can they continue to tell themselves that eating meat is okay when this person is loud and proud about the evidence stating otherwise?
Just as I explained in my article on balancing health and self-love, our obsession with the food and lifestyle choices of others — especially in a society where most of us profess to be both “animal lovers” and bacon or chicken nugget fiends without irony, essentially stems from our own internal conflicts around how we value animals. Do we really love them more than we love to eat them? Do we love animals at all, or just an exclusive selection if them we find cute — like cats or dogs, or important — like elephants or tigers.
Overall, we habitually mock and judge vegans to avoid thinking about our own health, ethical decisions, and ultimately – hypocrisy.
It’s an inconvenient truth that animals feel pain, our own health is paying the price, and the climate is suffering thanks largely to our global meat and dairy industries. A red pill. A burdening knowledge to bear.
So much so, that once you truly understand the vegan cause, you cannot help but cut out animal products yourself. If you’re still eating meat by choice, then it hasn’t fully sunken in for you yet. I sincerely hope that it does one day.
If an annoying vegan uses animal welfare as a reason for their choice — a disgruntled meat-loving listener may retort: “what about plants?”
But if the meat-eater needs explaining that plants don’t feel pain, but animals do, then quite frankly any further discussion on the matter is pretty pointless. Alternatively, they may claim that slaughterhouses these days are “humane” or simply “a fact of life.”
Hey, if they truly believe that there’s a humane way to kill a healthy sentient being that doesn’t want to die, then they really need to take a long look at themself. Not to mention that humane slaughter is shown time and time again to be a myth.
If a vegan explains that health is their main reason for living as they do, a meat-eater may claim defensively that “humans need meat” or that “meat is healthy.”
Perhaps we can’t blame the majority of the population for still believing this, as it’s been the commonly held belief for many centuries that the protein, vitamins, and minerals found in meat are required. But think about it: where do the herbivores that you eat get their protein, vitamins, and minerals? The plants that they eat, of course.
You get exactly what you need and the animals, the planet, and your arteries will thank you.
But if a vegan lists environmentalism as their primary concern, the meat-eater may declare that growing plants also lead to deforestation; that crops such as soy, almonds, and avocados are the most environmentally costly.
They usually overlook the fact that a whopping 70% of the world’s soy is actually cultivated for animal feed for animals destined for the meat-eaters’ plates — it’s not like it’s all for soy lattes and mock meats. So consuming soy yourself would actually be a greener option than consuming animals who actually consumed more soy than you ever would during your lifetime.
(Not that soy has to be a key component of a plant-based diet, FYI. Each to their own.)
And when it comes to almonds and avocados — sure, they aren’t the most eco-friendly treats — but since when were these foods only consumed by vegans? There’s a reason these crops are more pricey than most — and we all like a little guacamole or almond butter from time to time. Leave the vegans alone.
All in all, there’s always a quick yet ill-thought-out comeback once a particularly insecure meat-eater feels scorned.
What do pandemics have to do with eating meat?
One of the latest pieces of ammo the vegan cause has in its favor is the damning tendency for highly contagious diseases — such as the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic the world is currently grappling with — to stem from eating animals.
Essentially, eating meat means eating the semi-decomposed corpse of a once-living creature. And no, I am not being crass or horrible in saying so — if you can’t accept this as a truth, then you are deluding yourself.
Admittedly, the current pandemic is thought to stem from extreme meat industry practices — selling wild animals from different parts of the world and meat in one, cramped space, causing a whole party of pathogens to spread like wildfire.
But though this may be a world away from your local butcher’s or supermarket — the risk of disease is still inevitable. We only have to look back to likes of so-called “Mad Cow Disease,” bird flu or swine flu, all in living memory and spread by your standard agricultural animals.
Eating any animal comes with a risk — because animals’ bodies contain pathogens that our bodies may not be equipped to fight. From the parasites commonly found in pork, the salmonella in your chicken or eggs, to these aforementioned diseases which have the whole world in their grip.
“But what about lions?”
Of course, many other animals out there eat meat and this message isn’t intended for lions, tigers or otherwise (who I’m pretty sure won’t be reading this anyway). I’m also not suggesting you deprive your cat of the nutrition they need. But as for our own digestive systems, though you may not like to admit it, they are not as strong as your cat’s — let alone a lion.
Truly carnivorous animals hunt down their prey. They rip the raw flesh apart with their strong jaws or claws, bat away the flies, and relish the lukewarm blood as it trickles from every chunk they swallow down, barely touching the sides.
Sound appetizing? If you were truly intended to eat meat, then it should! Just look at how your cat or dog revels in the dead rodent or bird they salvaged in the garden. That’s a true carnivore over there. Why does it gross us out?
Your cravings for seasoned, processed chunks of cooked flesh that come out of a packet don’t classify you as a carnivore – or even a true omnivore, sorry.
Meat-eating animals tend to have a few biological features in common. Their teeth are predominantly canines — no, not the four pathetic rounded stubs you point at in your own mouth. I’m pretty sure they couldn’t tear through raw flesh the way a lion’s — or indeed a cat’s, dog’s or ferret’s — could.
On top of that, carnivores and omnivores have a shorter digestive tract than we do — as well as other herbivores. This is to push any meat straight through before it decomposes and creates a hard-to-manage level of fat, protein, and harmful bacteria in the intestines. If you stretched out an adult human’s small intestine, on the other hand, it would be about 22 feet long, giving all the undesirables plenty of time to be absorbed.
Like with other creatures who thrive on a heavily plant-based diet: horses, cows, and most monkeys — our intestines are not made for animal matter. Though it may not kill us instantly, the gradual build-up of more cholesterol, hard-to-digest animal protein, and harmful bacteria than we can handle eventually contributes to a build-up of plaque in the arteries (leading to heart attacks and strokes) as well as other diseases linked to high animal matter consumption such as gout and cancers of the digestive tract.
Put simply – meat is not meant for us.
But the straw to break the (already extremely strained) camel’s back?
Perhaps the top three greatest threats to human life right now are climate change, antibiotic resistance, and indeed — pandemics. This trio of misfortune is composed of global concerns that all individually have the potential to wipe us out. And we are currently battling all three.
Wouldn’t you do anything to have been able to prevent such crises? Wouldn’t you do anything right now to lessen these threats?
Don’t fret — it may well be as simple as making a few swaps to your regular meals, and being more mindful of what you are consuming and how that got to your supermarket shelf.
It might be hard to accept, but all of these very real threats are directly linked to our archaic meaty habits. From cattle rearing leading to deforestation and greenhouse gas production, to over-use of antibiotics for farm animals provoking serious resistant bacteria strains such as MRSA, and sweeping our medical progress to the side.
And now, with yet another life-threatening pandemic sweeping the world stemming from animal consumption — can we finally conclude that eating animal flesh is not only unhealthy but deeply dangerous?
Is your meat fix really that good? Good enough for you to dismiss the facts time and time again? To insist that vegans are just annoying? That you’re not doing anything wrong?
The time for change is now
Please think twice before you dismiss the vegan or vegetarian in your life. Don’t call them extreme for their ethical and responsible choices which you are struggling to make yourself. Don’t “but bacon” or “where do you get your protein,” because we’ve heard it all before. And quite frankly, it makes you look both ignorant and unoriginal.
Look past your inexplicable resentment for that annoying vegan trying to hammer home this message at a time where we can barely imagine our multiple global crises get any worse — because they most certainly can.
And although I’m not here to claim that veganism will cure all disease, replace your medication, or lead to world peace — the potential for positive change that leaving meat off your plate could inspire cannot be understated.
Animal rights activist, John Oberg, commented:
“Animal agriculture causes unimaginable suffering and destruction. Now we see that eating animals can also lead to deadly and costly pandemics, as well. As a result of the Coronavirus, we need to seriously re-evaluate our relationships with animals.”
Honestly, I believe that you already know all this to be true — especially since you are reading this. But stop pushing that little voice aside for the smell of your favorite meat product. It’s time to surrender to your conscience and do the right thing.
Stop favoring your short-term satisfaction over the long-term wellbeing of both you and the entire planet. A plant-based diet has been proven time and time again to be the best in terms of heart health, digestive health, and healthy aging. It is perhaps our best chance to slow down the menace of climate change and stop the spread of similar diseases — both the contagious and the diet-related kind.
So… make your next burger a veggie one? Don’t just take it from me, of course. Do your research and come to your own conclusions. Both your body and planet will thank you.