Earlier this week in an editorial, Ms. Spiegler compared meat-eating with the holocaust. I would like to counter this (and other accusations aimed at meat eaters). I am not against vegetarianism; I am against the absolute rhetoric of militant vegetarians. I know factory farms are grotesque. Nobody would willingly choose that environment for their or their children’s food (if they can afford the free range options). However, the arguments for eating meat: poverty, accessibility in urban areas, health issues, and simple choice are still valid.
I have allergies to soy, dairy, some grains, and some nuts. I have a mild allergy to eggs and only tolerate them in baked goods. I cannot get a complete diet (with protein) without some meat.
I tried to live on beans and eggs as protein sources but was constantly run down with exhaustion and several infections. I also could not keep at a healthy weight (I am very thin). I could eat nothing but beans again, and that would fulfill Ms. Spiegler’s ethical obligations, but my health and energy would be lessened in the process. I have chosen to take care of myself, and this is a choice I have the right to make.
In Nickel and Dimed, Barbara Erenreich deplores the fact that in poor urban areas a corner store (or a McDonalds) were places people could purchase food in the immediate vicinity. (I know this from personal experience). Very few people in that environment could eat a consistently balanced diet (let alone a consistently meatless one). (I do not have space to address the poverty issue in this letter).
Eating vegetarian, like eating organic, is a wealthy and healthy option that many people don’t have. From my experience, empathy has never been a big aspect (empathy for people) of the vegetarian debate.