Diet decisions should be pro-choice

The idea that we are morally obligated to give up meat is ignorant and unfeasible.

In response to columns featuring Peter Singer and others advocating a shift toward a vegan/vegetarian diet, I am writing this in defense of all of us omnivores. Being a vegetarian should never be associated with being a revolutionary or being open-minded; it is a dietary choice. I don’t promote eating meat, nor do I castigate vegetarians for not eating meat. This mentality is just a proliferation of the type of ignorance that vegetarians are attacking. The illogicality of expecting everyone to adopt their idea of being healthy and ethical is just preposterous.

The link between meat consumption and heart disease is not a reason to become a vegetarian. Although it is true that meat can result in negative health effects, this is not necessarily a problem with meat but, instead, a problem with over-indulgence. Historically, poverty-stricken countries that experienced times of economic growth also experienced an increase in meat consumption.

It is inaccurate to claim raising animals for food is energy-inefficient. Granted, there is too much energy lost with mass-producing some animals, but this is not entirely ubiquitous. Some animals can be fed distillers’ grains and shredded cornstalks.

It is arrogant to claim that “each person has a moral obligation” to desist the killing of animals for food, as Singer does in his column. Singer claims animals should be given equal consideration. His premise implies that, because we are able to employ our higher faculties in order to provide nutrition without meat, it is a morally wrong act to kill a nonhuman animal for food. By this logic, cultures such as the Native Americans were morally wrong to live as hunter-gatherers. Equally wrong are many of the poor countries today that rely on animals to do work or for food.

Factory-farming can be done more humanely, but the idea that we all are obligated to give up meat is unfeasible. It is not oxymoronic to say we can make factory farming more humane; it should be a goal. It has been my experience growing up in Wisconsin that most farmers care about animals and do not subject them to suffering. Most animals raised for food are not lifelong sufferers.

Sean Stalpes is a University student. Please send comments to [email protected]