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I am in one vegetarianism clubhouse where someone is saying that vegetarian groups say not to eat meat, but I like to eat meat once every week (flexitarian) and the vegetarians must not to say to me this is not ok.

And he accused vegetarians of extremism, and he was saying that vegetarians must not to say to others that eating meat is not ethical, and that humans are not superior to other species, and if they are, they should try to kill less.

In this discussion, someone else said that meat eaters are of two types:

  1. Some have decided to close their minds and are content to continue killing other creatures and enjoying meat.

  2. Others are aware of the badness of eating meat, and yet for some reason they continue to do so, and it is a shameful situation.

A meat eater is trying to say that vegetarians don't have any plan to change this situation, and I said that there are 400 million vegetarians in Indian and the vegetarianism in India goes back to more than 500 BC, and this person denied this history and points to the meat eating practices of some other countries, and is saying you cannot change this system. They don't accept that the meat industry grows on the basis of demand for meat and stops when this demand is cut off or reduced.

Also, this person says that vegetarianism is not tested, and denies the 2500 years vegetarianism history in India and the culture or experience of the 400 million vegetarians in India.

I have tried to describe the denying defense system of one meat eater and the vegetarians in one discussion.

I would like to have some comment about the proper defense system for answering this kind of question, and what could answer when they are using this denying mechanism.

Thanks.

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  • There is no single answer Soheil. In general eating meat is not recommended, but it's not banned. People can certainly find reasons to eat meat. For medicinal reasons and certain health benefits even ancient indian texts recommend certain meats. Regions where vegetation is difficult to grow like Shakha, Russia or high mountainous regions of himalayas, meat is sometimes only choice. Many people eat by habit as well, not by choice. Therefore, in general every person has to find a philosophy to abandon meat, and follow it. There is no single answer.
    – sbharti
    Oct 17, 2021 at 22:44
  • Ancient Indian texts do prescribe to avoid meat as killing or himsa is considered very bad. Recent reasons are climate change, love or mercy for animals, animal rights etc. Medically many research has shown that human anatomy is not ideal for meat consumption. What we can do is find ways to create narratives around these philosophies and create an environment where leaving meat is considered a good thing to do (like Yoga).
    – sbharti
    Oct 17, 2021 at 22:48
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    you cannot change some people's minds ... nothing you say will make any difference ... pick your fights ... choose only those that you have a chance of winning ... don't waste your time and energy on this person ... it can only make you depressed ... stop talking to this person ... instead, talk to people that are actually interested in becoming vegetarian
    – jsotola
    Oct 18, 2021 at 4:08

1 Answer 1

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The person in your story seems to ask that others behave in a certain way towards them:

the vegetarians must not to say to me this is not ok

I would be happy to grant my friend's request that I not talk to them about my opinion on the ethics of meat eating. I think coercion is bad and people should not be forced into any conversation they don't want to have.

On the other hand, if the person said vegetarians must not (ever to anyone) say this is not ok, then that would be an attempt to deny vegetarians free speech. I would tell them that they can certainly ask me not to tell them that eating meat is not okay and that I will not do so, but that I will continue to think that it is not okay and I will say so in other contexts.

If the person wanted to argue that eating meat (from commercial agriculture*) is actually morally okay, then we can have a discussion about that, and I will disagree with them. Here are a few examples of the many points one can make:

  • Pain, fear, suffering etc are bad. Animals suffer pain and fear and distress when being raised for meat or being slaughtered.
  • People losing homes, animals losing habitats is bad. Animal agriculture contributes to climate change which causes extreme weather events, loss of habitable and cultivable land and habitats.
  • Not having enough to eat is bad. Animal agriculture consumes more resources so that some humans can't get enough food (climate change is a factor here too).

I don't think there's much mileage in arguing about whether vegetarianism has a history (it does, but in my opinion that does not make it morally good, though examining the way people have reasoned about it in that history may certainly yield useful moral arguments) or whether humans are adapted to eat meat (whether we are or not, we seem to have done so for thousands of years and historically benefited from doing so in areas where arable land is scarce - denying this is just silly - but it does not follow that all humans must or should eat meat - clearly we can survive and thrive without it).


* I do think it's okay to eat meat for survival, and I'm not much inclined to criticise practices like hunting wild animals for food.

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