As written out by Michael Allen Fox and Holmes Roston III in their respective articles “Why we should be vegetarians” and “Higher animals: duties to sentient life”, an argument is being made for vegetarianism. The two academics bring to the fore their individual arguments making the point that not only is vegetarianism a viable option, but it addresses several social and philosophical arguments. One may wonder, though, whether those arguments are sufficient to make a case for vegetarianism. In fact, most of the world have fed on a predominantly plant-based diet. Vegetarians, however, self-consciously decided to abstain from flesh of any kind. This decision could be based on philosophical, ethical, religious, or scientific beliefs. The term originated in the 1840s and has its roots in the word “vegetus”, symbolizing the idea of something that is whole. The definition of flesh is quite fluid, because most people, who wish to be referred to as vegetarians, eat chicken and fish; for the purpose of convenience, which is ironically convenient, this essay will define vegetarians as those, who abstain from all forms of animal flesh.
There isn’t sufficient evidence to link the two, but it is not completely amiss to point out that the rise in the number of professing and practicing vegetarians and the numbers of people, who are practicing the new eastern religions, are growing apace. The point being made here is that vegetarianism like all the older fads: hippy lifestyle, bell bottoms, platform shoes, discos and the like, will eventually be replaced by some new and “higher” purpose. Vegetarianism is consuming a diet that is absolutely bereft of flesh of any kind. There are several arguments for it; however, it must be stated that vegetarianism is and remains the personal choice of the vegetarian. As long as that lifestyle choice rewards the vegetarian in whatever way, he/she should remember that it is first and foremost just that: a choice. Moreover, no one should be made feel guilty for choosing to eat meat.
Holmes Rolston (1988) in his article “Higher animals: duties to sentient life” makes a philosophical argument about the place of domesticated animals in today’s world and culture, which is a very salient point. He asserts that domestic animal of all kinds basically have been taken out of nature and transformed by culture; in spite of this, they remain largely uncultured in their sentient life. Moreover, by the virtue of this very transformation, these animals are unable to exist in this current culture ethically, critically, and cognitively. Thus, they neither live in nature, nor in culture, but on the periphery of both; in the meantime, they are able to experience pain. The philosophical point taken by this eminent scholar is a very valid one, because it makes a case for the position the animal occupies in today’s culture and environment. Actually, domesticated animals have no place in tomorrow’s world, because the domesticated animals occupy ambiguous place in the society. The question now is whether the place occupied by the domestic animals is sufficient enough to assume the status of a doctrine on whether they should be consumed or not. I would beg to differ. The author makes some allusions to the pain and the indignity that is domestication. While that might be the case, the pain of the animal is a necessary evil. It is pertinent to state at this juncture that cruelty to animals for the pleasure of it is unconscionable and abhorrent. However, stating that because the animals suffer pain is sufficient grounds to abolish the eating of animals is, in my humble opinion, simply sensationalizing a very trivial issue. Going by that same logic, we should not eat plants, because they could feel pain. We could push that line of thinking further to say that cutting up vegetables is cruel and inhumane! Or we could stop walking on the ground, because someone will discover that the earth has the capacity to feel pain. The intention here is not to be derisory, but to put this particular subject in the right perspective. Eating meat provides needed nutrients to humans, if, however, a human chooses not to do so, it is a completely irreproachable choice.
A second article by Fox (2006) titled “Why we should be vegetarians” approaches the vegetarian argument from the other side. He takes up the point that it is supremely vital that the person, who answers the clarion call to vegetarianism, is doing a great service to the planet, because he/she is taking a stand to confront an injustice in the world, which is pain and torture of killing the animals, who incidentally have been reared exclusively for consumption. This might come off as a bit cynical, but guilting or browbeating people into buying into one’s point of view is hardly convincing, because it is neither a scientific nor a rational argument. Many claim that animals have taken borne the brunt of human existence: loss of habitat, loss of freedom, and subjection by the numerous tests. Regarding the latter, they have always been exposed to a battery of tests to find out the efficacy of drugs or the pathogenesis of specific health issues and other things like that are completely valid social and ethical issues that would make the basis for some deep conversations. However, those are not grounds to remove meat from the diet.
The attempt by the authors of the afore mentioned works to elevate the status of animals by ascribe human qualities like pain and dignity to them or to demote human beings by referring to them as fundamentally animals in order to make a point, is as ludicrous as saying that a Lamborghini and a horse drawn buggy are one and the same, because “fundamentally” they are means of transportation. It will be wise here to concede that there are people, whose sensibilities are less likely to trivialize the point of the pain inflicted on the animals, but those people’s wishes must be taken into consideration as being true for them and them alone. Our collective consciences must not bear their unique burden. But it should not, in my opinion, be grounds for any person irrespective of his/her status to classify the entire human race as animals, just because it better serves his/her purposes, as this is tantamount to cutting one’s nose to spite one’s face.
One of the more scientifically sound arguments that support the vegetarian cause can be found in the results of a study titled “The China Study” (Campbell and Campbell) Basically, the researchers studied the effect of meat and dairy products on human health in the long term. The study seemed to suggest that abstaining from meat and dairy products would cut the risk of developing cardiovascular disorders, as well as other common human ailments. This point is hinged on the effect of casein, a protein found in the dairy products. According to the study, casein is the most relevant chemical carcinogen, which admittedly is a scary proposition. But the truth is that the real or imagined effects of casein cannot really be appreciated in isolation (Campbell & Rodriguez). Everything in nature works in synchrony with other things. The study of genetics lets us know that having one gene does not guarantee its phenotypical expression; this study neglects to show other factors, whose presence is vital for the expression of the deleterious effects of the said carcinogen. It must be stated here that although not to denigrate the role played by casein, it is insufficient to label it as a carcinogen without pointing out other factors that might affect/influence its expression, such as genetic predisposition, in the test subjects.
The myth that vegetarian diet is far healthier and that the people, who go vegan, are less prone to cardiovascular system diseases is just a myth. The truth is not as simple as just avoid meat and you will be free of all the illnesses that are associated with an omnivorous diet, the fact is that the people, who care enough about their health to go vegan, are far more likely to have other healthy habits, such as drinking of lots of water, watching the food classes in their diet, exercising regularly, and having a stable feeding schedule. In addition, people like those are very likely to religiously watch what they eat, so using such people at the posters for the benefits of vegetarian feeding severely distorts the picture, and does not begin to come close to telling the full story.
Everything should be done in moderation, eating too much meat can hurt you so you will not be able to eat any meat at all. In order to be healthy, one needs to eat regularly, exercise regularly, drink lots of water, and minimize stress. Running away from meat might provide a placebo-like effect, but if one lives an unhealthy lifestyle, the same problems are likely to occur whether they are vegetarians or not. Sometimes, these problems are down to genetics; non-smokers develop lung cancer, so some perspective is important in this debate.
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