Animals kill other animals for food, so why shouldn't we?
Most animals who kill for food could not survive if they did not do so. That is not the case for us. We are better off not eating meat. Also, we do not look to other animals for standards in other areas, so why should we in this case?
Don't humans have to eat meat to stay healthy?
Both the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the American Dietetic Association have endorsed vegetarian diets. Studies have also shown that vegetarians have stronger immune systems than meat-eaters and that meat-eaters are almost twice as likely to die of heart disease, 60 percent more likely to die of cancer, and 30 percent more likely to die of other diseases. The consumption of meat and dairy products has been conclusively linked with diabetes, arthritis, osteoporosis, clogged arteries, obesity, asthma, and impotence as well.
What will we do with all those chickens, cows, and pigs if everyone becomes a vegetarian?
It's unrealistic to expect that everyone will stop eating animals overnight. As the demand for meat decreases, the number of animals bred will decrease. Farmers will stop breeding so many animals and will turn to other types of agriculture. When there are fewer of these animals, they will be able to live more natural lives.
Don't vegetarians have difficulty getting enough protein?
In the United States, our problem is too much protein, not too little. Most Americans get about seven times as much protein as they need. You can get plenty of protein from whole wheat bread, oatmeal, beans, corn, peas--even mushrooms or broccoli. Almost every food contains protein. Unless you eat a great deal of junk food, it's almost impossible to eat as many calories as you need for good health without getting enough protein.
By contrast, too much protein is the major cause of osteoporosis and contributes to kidney failure and other diseases of affluence.
What's wrong with drinking milk? Don't dairy cows need to be milked?
In order for a cow to produce milk, she must have a calf. "Dairy cows" are impregnated every year in order to keep up a steady supply of milk. In the natural order of things, the cow's calf would drink her milk (eliminating her "need to be milked by humans"). But dairy cows' babies are taken away within a day or two of birth so that humans can have the milk nature intended for calves. Female dairy calves may be slaughtered immediately or raised to become future dairy cows. Male dairy calves are confined for 16 weeks in tiny veal crates too small for them even to turn around in.
The current high demand for dairy products requires that cows be pushed beyond their natural limits, genetically engineered, and fed growth hormones in order to produce huge quantities of milk. Even the few farmers who choose not to raise animals intensively must both eliminate the calf (who would otherwise drink the milk) and eventually send the mother off to slaughter after her milk production wanes.
Eating meat is natural. It's been going on for thousands of years. We have evolved that way.
Actually, we have not evolved to eat meat. Carnivorous animals have curved fangs, claws, and a short digestive tract. Human beings have evolved without claws or fangs. We have flat molars and a long digestive tract better suited to a diet of vegetables, fruits, and grains. Eating meat is hazardous to our health; it contributes to heart disease, cancer, and a host of other health problems.
If you were starving on a boat at sea, and there was an animal on the boat, would you eat the animal?
I don't know. Humans will go to extremes to save their own lives, even if it means hurting someone innocent. (People have even eaten other people in dire situations.) This example, however, isn't relevant to our daily choices. For most of us, there are no life-threatening circumstances and no excuses to kill animals for food.
If everyone switches to vegetables and grains, will there be enough to eat?
We feed so much of the grain we produce to animals in order to fatten them up for consumption that, if we all became vegetarians, we could produce enough food to feed the entire world. In the U.S., animals are fed more than 80 percent of the corn we grow and more than 95 percent of the oats. The world's cattle alone consume a quantity of food equal to the caloric needs of 8.7 billion people--more than the entire human population on Earth.
Farmers have to treat their animals well, or they won't produce as much milk or lay as many eggs.
Animals on factory farms do not gain weight, lay eggs, and produce milk because they are comfortable, content, or well cared for, but, rather, because they have been manipulated specifically to do these things through genetics, medications, hormones, and management techniques. In addition, animals raised for food today are slaughtered at extremely young ages, before disease and misery have decimated them.
Such huge numbers of animals are raised for food that it is more cost-effective for farmers to absorb some losses than to provide humane conditions.
If everyone turned vegetarian, it would be worse for the animals because many of them would not even be born.
Life on the factory farms is so miserable, it is hard to see how we are doing animals a favor by bringing them into existence, confining and stressing them, abusing them, and then slaughtering them.