Commentary: Meat eaters > veggies

 Resize text         Printer-friendly version of this article Printer-friendly version of this article

Sometimes, after a stint spent sifting through the activist/vegetarian/meat hater websites, I have to laugh out loud.

That’s because virtually all of the content served up by people who wrap themselves in the mantle of holier-than-thou/animals-are-people-too reinforces an observation most people would agree with—if their brains hadn’t been softened by decades of veggie believers preaching about their self-proclaimed lock on ethics and morality.

It is this: Omnivores exhibit more tolerance, do more to lessen animal suffering and in general demonstrate greater empathy than their vegan counterparts—all values that abstaining from eating meat is supposed to promote.

Although there isn’t scientific data to support this contention, there is logic. Allow me to explain.

On the issue of tolerance, consider the basic premise: Tolerance refers to the capacity to accept something that’s different, even alien, to one’s one values, preferences of beliefs.

Now, virtually all “committed” veggies I’ve ever encountered are quite dogmatic: No animal foods, no exceptions. Many will refuse to even consume a vegetarian dish if the serving spoon previously touched an animal food. And they’re typically extremely intolerant of anyone who questions such behavior, or worse, who dismisses it as unnecessary.

A majority of omnivores, on the other hand, not only tolerate but accept and even embrace vegetarian foods. Many people who regularly consume animal foods are more than willing to concede that vegetarians should be accommodated, both philosophically and nutritionally. Try floating the idea that veggies and meat-eaters should all just peacefully co-exist, and you’ll find out in a hurry that veggies have precious little tolerance for someone who thinks and eats differently than they do.

As far as animal suffering is concerned, the domestication of animals has greatly reduced the degree of death and disability suffered by those animals’ wild relatives. Farm or food animals—as well as pets—get to live a pampered life, compared with similar species that must fend off predators, disease and starvation all on their own.

To make the point, ask a vegetarian making the argument about how animal agriculture causes “untold suffering” the following question: If being left alone, returned to nature, or whatever description you want to apply to the (allegedly) improved lifestyles wild animals have versus their domestic brethren, then why not release all pets back into the wild? According to the logic that domestication is the source of animal suffering, then Fluffy or Fido ought to be way better off running loose in a forest somewhere.

Or even on the streets.

It’s a ridiculous argument, but so is the notion that the life of a cow or pig would be way better if they were simply left on their own.

Finally, the issue of empathy. Again, I won’t pretend this observation qualifies as sound science, but after witnessing it dozens of times over the years, I consider my conclusion to be valid.

Here’s the scenario. You’re at a backyard barbecue or a potluck, where it’s assumed that pretty much everyone present will be happy to chow down on the burgers, dogs and ribs being grilled.

Suddenly, the host is informed that one of the guests is a strict vegetarian. What happens next? Almost without exception, the host apologizes and figures out either a substitute or at least a comparable plate of food, so that the person doesn’t feel excluded. Most of the time the apologies tend to be sincere, if on occasion triggered primarily by embarrassment.

Now, imagine the reverse situation, where a group of vegetarians are gathered for a backyard banquet. If someone were to request a serving of meat, perhaps because they’re allergic to soy, the response would be far different. If he or she was lucky, they’d get off with a stern lecture about—wait for it . . . tolerance and empathy.

Or as has happened more than once, they’d be asked to leave the premises, lest their willingness to support cruelty by dining on dead flesh corrupt the entire gathering.

To summarize: Omnivores are more tolerant, better at reducing animal suffering and more likely to express empathy for others.

Which makes the final score: Omnivores 3, veggies zero.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Dan Murphy, a veteran food-industry journalist and commentator.

Prev 1 2 Next All

Comments (6) Leave a comment 

e-Mail (required)


characters left

Utter Nonsense    
Utter Nonsense  |  August, 12, 2013 at 04:29 PM

utter nonsense

usa  |  August, 12, 2013 at 04:55 PM

This guy has mad cow disease!

Lisa Viger    
Brooklyn, MI  |  August, 12, 2013 at 05:42 PM

As an excuse for keeping and killing sentient beings who want to live as much as you do, you give as a rationale that their wild counterparts did not do as well. I call bull$&*% on that one. Any animal that is kept and killed for food is grown as fast as possible. Chickens, for example, are alive for a mere 47 brutal days now. Perhaps that's mercifully short, given the nightmare conditions they're kept in ... but I digress. Most animals kept for food are killed before they've reached anything close to even their adolescence. In the wild, many animals will die before they reach maturity. However, some make it and live to adulthood and some even last to old age. In your living nightmare, none of them do. And none of them even have a chance to. So, "they have better lives than in the wild" seems to be your only excuse for being brutal. And it's not true. Not only is it not true, but it's nonsensical. So, if you only reason for keeping and killing animals is false and nonsensical, why do you do it? Seriously, why? It can't be just the money, because animal agriculture is the most inefficient way to produce food, by far. So why?

August, 12, 2013 at 06:23 PM

The author is a journalist??? I think it's helpful, when writing "articles" like this, to use some attributed quotes from the people you're arguing with. This whole thing reminds me of C. Eastwood arguing with a chair at the Republican convention. I'm guessing there's somebody, somewhere who has said some of the things you allege, but not many people and not anyone I've ever met. Sounds like you're having a pretty frenzied argument with yourself. And I guess I don't blame you. If I had the foolish idea that vegans were less tolerant than omnivores or that I was doing the world a favor by promoting meat eating, I guess I'd be arguing with myself, too. You may want to look at the work of former rancher Howard Lyman ("the Mad Cowboy") - reading it can probably help you make some peace with yourself so you can stop arguing with imaginary people.

August, 12, 2013 at 09:06 PM

No offense, Ellen, but you['re referencing Howard "Mad Cowboy" Lyman as Exhibit A that (converted) vegetarians are more tolerant than omnivores? Seriously? But I stick by my central point: Veggies absolutely won't tolerate meat-eating (with rare exceptions). Non-vegetarians, for lack of a better label, generally accept the fact that some people choose to pursue a diet that was simply unavailable for 9,900 of the last 10,000 years.

New Jersey  |  August, 13, 2013 at 09:38 AM

I guess I have to agree with Dan Murphy. Above comments from vegans certainly do seem to be reflexively intolerant and remarkably uninformative. Good call Dan! You nailed it.


ALIMET/MHA – ALIMET® and MHA® feed supplements are proven, effective sources of methionine activity in liquid and dry form. Because ... Read More

View all Products in this segment

View All Buyers Guides

Feedback Form
Generate Leads