I work in the animal welfare field – specifically, at a companion pet animal shelter. I consider myself a champion of animal rights.
So why, then, is it that I eat meat?
It’s actually a question I get a fair amount, when people find out I am in animal welfare – “so are you a vegetarian then?” It’s a topic I’ve actually had to do some thinking on myself. Many meat-eaters say that meat “tastes too good” to stop eating meat. And while yes, I agree many meats are delicious, that’s not a particularly compelling argument for me. I’ve cut lots of things out of my diet that taste good – sugar, bread, etc. I did it because I felt it was healthier for me not to eat those things. And that’s kind of where I’m at – health.
The jury’s out on whether humanity has specifically evolved to eat meat. When thinking about this topic and researching for it, I found plenty of opinion pieces from educated scientists on both sides of the argument. My non-educated opinion is that humans evolved to eat what was available, and in most places, meat was available. We quite obviously ate meat through our history. But I think we quite obviously ate a lot of vegetables too. And in the end, I think the healthiest diet (for me, and for many, though I am not saying this is true for all) is one that is mostly filled with “whole foods.” Meat and vegetables. My body runs best on that. It loses extra fat, it makes me less sleepy, it makes me feel good day to day. Obviously my opinion is informed somewhat by my support of a ketogenic lifestyle, which is next to impossible to sustain without meat. (There are some keto vegetarians, bless them, but that just seems like living life on extra hard mode and would not be sustainable for me. I can eat meals without meat, but I can’t life my life without it. I just don’t feel good.)
How do I reconcile that with the treatment of animals today? It is tough, I won’t lie. I am against the way we treat animals on this planet. They live sad, harsh, short lives, and receive painful deaths. It’s not fair and it’s not right. Most animals have some degree of intelligence, including emotional intelligence. I can eat bacon because it is presented to me, nameless and faceless, prepared and ready to go in a plastic sleeve at the grocery store. If I had to get to know the pig before I ate it, I very much doubt I could. The anonymity of the grocery store is how I am able to continue consuming a product that I feel is healthy to me, but I’m not super excited about contributing to the industry and suffering of animals. I don’t think I’m alone, either. I think a lot of people who are have any awareness of the meat industry and also have awareness of the intelligence of animals feel the same as I do. They feel a little guilty about it, but they still eat meat. Because it tastes good and their body craves it.
So what is the solution? I really, honestly believe lab grown meat is the best fix here. It’s meat, it’s truly meat – isn’t science great? – but no animals had to live a short and painful life to get it to my plate. We live in a wonderful time with constant technological and scientific advances, but I think lab grown meat is going to be one of the biggest steps forward for us as a civilized society. Something something how we treat those under us, something. We should be able to do better for the animals than we currently do. Here’s hoping it hits our plates soon!