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Ethics and Food Choices

Veggie Plate
Veggie Plate

Posted on May 6, 2012

Not too many days ago the New York Times ran an essay contest about the ethics of eating meat. It was a frivolous topic, but none-the-less, the subject intrigued me.

Iím not sure that what we eat, other than cannibalism or the animals we consider pets, can even be considered as culturally ethical or a non-ethical source of nutrition. We are, after all, biologic creatures and out of necessity feed on Earthís biology. With the exception of a few organisms that feed on non-organic material, we and the rest of the Earthís biology are left no choice but to eat other biological life forms. Humans are naturally omnivorous, meaning that we eat all types of both plants and animals. It was we who evolved the brain that gave us the ability to trap and dispose of animals for sustenance. Vegetarians would have us change our eating habits to exclude animals. A strict vegetarian diet is a bit extreme and after doing some research, even a little humorous.

First and maybe at the top of a vegetarianís list is the sympathy for the plight of our food animals. For a vegetarian, they empathize with the animal and worry about the pain suffered during the butchering process. Most hurt animals express their pain very vociferously. There are a lot of people who find the whole idea of killing and consuming an animal distasteful and wrong.

These same people think nothing of approaching the rooted variety of the Earthís life form and using it as food. After all our rooted brothers (the plants) cannot scream, and cannot run. It is those limitations that attract the vegetarian. But if you take a closer look at a plant, if you cut it, it bleeds (exudes sap). Plants make the perfect target for squeamish eaters. But plants are ever-bit as aware of life as the ones free to move about. When possible, they turn and face the Sun and seem to revel in its light. Plants and algaeís photosynthetic abilities keep us supplied with oxygen, cleanse the air we breathe, furnish us fuel, and provide us with building material.

According to Scientific American, May 2012 issue, plants also have the ability to smell. Thatís right, smell! There are predatory plants and the preyed upon plants. Vegetarians do not look at plants as being anything except a food source that doesnít have the ability to express pain (not to mention no ability to escape). Vegetarians havenít the slightest interest in the idea that plants are also communal entities complete with feelings. It is also known that if you are friendly to your houseplants and talk to them, that they do better.

And yet, this is the life form that the vegetarian makes war upon. Vegetarians have singled out this one important life form for food. After all, it canít squeal or show pain (as we know it); plants are an easy target that allows the vegetarian a clear conscience since they have not caused discomfort or pain (that they are aware of). Their narrow and thoughtless views are varied. Listed below are the many forms of vegetarianism.

There are a number of types of vegetarianism, which exclude or include various foods.

  • Ovo vegetarianism includes eggs but not dairy products.
  • Lacto vegetarianism includes dairy products but not eggs.
  • Ovo-lacto vegetarianism (or lacto-ovo vegetarianism) includes animal/dairy products such as eggs, milk, and honey.
  • Veganism excludes all animal flesh and animal products, including milk, honey, and eggs, and may also exclude any products tested on animals, or any clothing from animals.
  • Raw veganism includes only fresh and uncooked fruit, nuts, seeds, and vegetables. Vegetables can only be cooked up to a certain temperature.
  • Fruitarianism permits only fruit, nuts, seeds, and other plant matter that can be gathered without harming the plant.
  • Buddhist vegetarianism (also known as su vegetarianism) excludes all animal products as well as vegetables in the allium family (which have the characteristic aroma of onion and garlic): onion, garlic, scallions, leeks, or shallots
  • Jain vegetarianism includes dairy but excludes eggs and honey, as well as root vegetables.
  • Macrobiotic diets consist mostly of whole grains and beans.

Do not interpret what I say as an indictment against vegetarians. It is just that they seem to relish proselytizing for their way of life and looking down on non-vegetarians. Maybe they should be taking a closer look at what they are doing.

Whatever we consume for survival is always at the expense of another living thing. Whether our choice of foods is ethical or not is a false label meant to intimidate anybody that makes different choices.
Bacteria are also animals, I wonder how vegetarians square with killing them by cooking or consuming. ĖJust wondering!


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