In some ways, it’s good news when someone writes another article about “why we should eat meat.” The arguments are so weak that it just reinforces the truth: meat eating can’t be defended.
The most recent of these pieces lists seven reasons why writer Christina Sterbenz “refuses” to stop eating meat. So, let’s look at them.
1. Meat has heme iron which is more easily absorbed.
Vegetarians do have lower stores of iron—which may be to our advantage—but the evidence suggests that meat eaters are just as likely to develop outright deficiency. And, the fact that iron in plant foods is sensitive to both enhancers and inhibitors of absorption is no doubt a good thing since iron may be bad for us in too high amounts.
2. Vegetarians don’t get to tear meat from bones with their teeth.
Seriously? I guess we could come up with some veggie meats that are attached to faux bones if people really wanted that. It’s hard for me to imagine that this is an issue that truly deters people from going vegetarian, though. I suspect that the writer couldn’t come up with a seventh reason for eating meat, and latched onto this silliness.
3. Plants Don’t Provide Vitamin B12
Yes, vegetarians need to take supplements. So do many meat eaters, including most people over the age of 50.
4. Eating meat helped our ancestors get enough calories.
Maybe. But who cares what Australopithecus habilis ate and what the effect on her evolution was? Modern vegans and vegetarians have access to a huge variety of foods. Getting enough calories is not an issue in the modern developed world.
5. There would be no fond memories of family meals, apparently, if those meals hadn’t included meat. And vegetarians feel left out on holidays.
I’ll let Jonathan Safron Foer respond to this one. Here is what he said in Eating Animals.
“There is no turkey. Is the holiday undermined? Is Thanksgiving no longer Thanksgiving? Or would Thanksgiving be enhanced? Would the choice not to eat turkey be a more active way of celebrating how thankful we feel? Try to imagine the conversation that would take place. This is why our family celebrates this way. Would such a conversation feel disappointing or inspiring? Would fewer or more values be transmitted? Would the joy be lessened by the hunger to eat that particular animal? Imagine your family’s Thanksgivings after you are gone, when the question is no longer ‘Why don’t we eat this?’ but the more obvious one: ‘Why did they ever?’”
6. You can be an ethical meat eater.
7. We have the digestive tracts of omnivores.
This is true—we have digestive tracts that allow us to eat a wide range of foods. That doesn’t mean we have to eat all of those foods.
As Sterbenz herself says in the last line of her article, “humans have a choice.”
Yes, we do. So, why not choose compassion?