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Don’t Eat Anything with a Face: A Discussion on Eating Meat

Don’t Eat Anything with a Face: A Discussion on Eating Meat

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The award-winning debate series, "Intelligence Squared U.S.," concluded its fall season with "Don't Eat Anything with a Face," moderated by ABC News correspondent John Donvan. The debate was centered on physical, psychological, environmental, and moral impacts caused by the American consumption of animal protein.

Not surprisingly, the topic ignited a strong reaction from vegans and omnivores alike. The program's chairman, Robert Rosenkranz, announced to audience members that the online response prior to the debate was so great that the Intelligence Squared website was unable to handle the massive increase in traffic. None of their previous events have ever sparked so much interest.

What made the public feel so strongly about something as basic as food? Rosenkranz speculated that it was because our dietary choices have become a form of branding.

Choosing to buy organic and locally grown foods, or to only consume a plant-based diet, is part of our identity that broadcasts our personal values to the rest of the world. For example, being a vegan implies that you value your own health and the well-being of other species and the environment. However, is it possible to be ecological, ethical, and health-conscious while still consuming meat? The debate's four panelists sought to answer that very question.

In his opening argument, Dr. Neal Bernard M.D. testified to the negative effects that animal products have on our health. He grew up in a family where meat, specifically red meat, was present at just about every meal. In his early 20s, he was dissecting a cadaver when his instructor pointed out a hard substance lining the cadaver's blood vessels. "There's your morning sausage," said the teacher. Choosing to buy organic and locally grown foods, or to only consume a plant-based diet, is part of our identity that broadcasts our personal values to the rest of the world.

Since then, Dr. Barnard has devoted his practice to the study of how a person's diet affects body weight, chronic pain, and diabetes. He cited cases where patients suffering from type 2 diabetes were cured simply by switching to a strictly plant-based regimen. He went on to say that other studies imply that people who consume meat have a greater risk of Alzheimer’s and even cancer.

Countering Dr. Barnard's argument, Chris Masterjohn, Ph. D., a nutritional sciences researcher and blogger for The Daily Lipid, cited his own personal experience. Masterjohn lived as a vegan for several years and developed several health problems including lethargy, irritability, anxiety, and tooth decay during that time. He claims many fat-soluble vitamins and minerals, essential to bone, dental, and even psychological health, are most efficiently obtained by eating meat. Masterjohn suggests that the maladies Dr. Barnard attributes to meat are actually the result of modernized food processing as supported by the research of dentist and nutrition advocate Weston Price. Beginning in the 1920s, Price studied how dental health of people living in developed areas differed from those living in less modernized surroundings. He found that the developed areas had a far greater rate of tooth decay, which Price attributed to a diet of refined grains and sugar. Masterjohn concluded that a simple, unprocessed, well-balanced diet would not carry any of the negative effects Barnard presented.

Gene Baur, the president and co-founder of Farm Sanctuary, an organization that rescues animals from commercial farms, was most concerned with the ethical aspect of the debate. Baur stated, referring to our ability to gain nutrients from plant-sources rather than "murdering" animals, "If we can live well without causing harm, why wouldn’t we do it?" He added that whenever animals are raised for consumption, no matter how humanely, there is always exploitation.

Joel Salatin, a third-generation alternative farmer, disagreed with Baur. Salatin expressed his deep love, compassion, and respect for the animals he raises. He also argued that environmental integrity depends on the cycle of life. Plants feed prey, which feed predators, which die and decompose to provide nutrients for the plants. Everything that lives must die.

Both sides of the debate could agree that large-scale commercial farming was a dangerous industry, and presented data on the nutritional quality and ethical considerations that were lacking in modern food productions.

"Don’t Eat Anything with a Face" was a lively discussion with emotions running high for both parties. However, it would appear from this debate that the information on health defects relating to the consumption of free-range, grass-fed, "happy" animals as part of a balanced diet is still unclear at this point.

That said, it would suggest from Salatin’s use of the word "dressing" instead of "slaughtering" when referring to an animal’s final moments, that even he feels some guilt about it. So, health concerns aside, will meat eaters ever be able to feel like their brand identity is as morally intact as their vegan counterparts? Perhaps not.

6 questions about being a vegetarian in Russia

There is no exact figure on the number of vegetarians living in the country, but it&rsquos thought they amount to about three to five percent of the population, with the majority living in big cities, mainly Moscow and St. Petersburg. Vegans are also included in this estimation.

The reasons for choosing such a lifestyle vary: some people just don&rsquot like the taste of meat, some think abstaining from eating animals is better for their health, while others do it out of ethical reasons.

&ldquoI didn&rsquot like how meat tasted from childhood, but I continued to eat it simply because I was served meat dishes everywhere - at home, at school, at university, in cafes and restaurants,&rdquo says Olga from the Russian city of Serov - she is now a vegan. Then she met a vegetarian and decided to follow his example for a while. She eventually started eating meat again, but discovered that it had a negative impact on her health so chose to gradually exclude it from her diet.

&ldquoThe ethical side of the question came to me a bit later and quite suddenly,&rdquo she remembers. When she was living in India she began to recognize the value of life of even the smallest animals, like ants, which led her to abstain from eating meat because it meant supporting the industries that harm animals. She stopped eating meat and in recent years went further to exclude all animal products from her diet based on both health and ethical reasons.

While the number of vegans and vegetarians remains pretty small in Russia, some celebrities raise awareness. Russian vegetarians include the founder of the country&rsquos leading social media platform VK, Pavel Durov, and the country&rsquos most popular naturalist Nikolai Drozdov, 81, who hasn&rsquot eaten meat for over 45 years! (By the way, did you know that Leo Tolstoy was also a vegetarian?)

2. Are there any vegetarian cafes, restaurants, and shops ?

While vegetarianism is far from being mainstream in Russia, the number of people avoiding meat is growing, so too the number of businesses catering to their needs. There are several vegetarian/vegan eateries in Moscow and St. Petersburg, and grocery stores where you can buy loads of meat substitutes and health foods. Many of these places also offer delivery and meat-free meal sets. There are even eco-friendly brands like shoe manufacturer Az-Art and makeup store Biozka that don&rsquot sell anything made with animal products

&ldquoI became a vegetarian five years ago and a few months later I moved to Nizhny Novgorod for a year. There it was impossible to find anything for such a lifestyle, excluding tofu which I found in a French supermarket,&rdquo Erwann from France recalls. &ldquoYet, now I hear that the situation there has changed for the better and some new stores have opened. In Moscow everything is much easier: here one can find many vegetarian shops (Jagannath is like heaven) and restaurants.&rdquo

3. Are there any Russian products and dishes that are suitable for vegetarians?

Russian cuisine may be dominated by meat but there are still many delicious dishes suitable for vegetarians. Members of the Orthodox church undertake fasting and abstain from meat, eggs, fish, seafood, and all dairy products during periods of the year: vareniki (traditional dumplings stuffed with potatoes, cabbage, cottage cheese, or berries), meatless variants of schi and borscht, vinegret salad, and mushroom pies are just a few meat-free dishes. Check out the firsthand account of Ajay Kamalakaran from India, who shared his experience of trying some traditional vegetarian Russian dishes.

4. What is the prevailing Russian attitude towards vegetarians?

The public in Russia, especially outside of big cities, still harbors a pretty conservative view on not eating meat. According to a 2018 poll, every fifth respondent (20 percent) believes such a diet is good for the health, while 39 percent think the opposite. The widespread belief among the latter is that a vegetarian diet might cause health problems due to a lack of nutrients and protein found in meat.

Vegetarians often face questions from relatives, friends, colleagues or even random people interested in learning why they don&rsquot eat meat. It&rsquos also not uncommon for people to try and convert vegetarians to meat eaters, claiming animal flesh is an essential part of the human diet.

&ldquoIf there&rsquos a vegetarian at some gathering, the first 30 min of the discussion will be focused on him or her! It&rsquos like telling someone that you don&rsquot drink alcohol: everyone thinks that you&rsquore either on antibiotics, a recovering alcoholic, or pregnant - no other explanation will work!&rdquo says Alexandra, a journalist from Moscow. &ldquoIf you say you&rsquore a vegetarian, you&rsquod be considered a psycho or someone who is simply chasing a trend.&rdquo

The older generations can be guilty of not taking vegetarianism seriously and may go ahead and serve their grandchildren meat, regardless of whether they want it or not.

&ldquoMy neighbors often invite me for a dinner, but even though they know quite well that I&rsquom a vegetarian they still regularly offer me meat dishes,&rdquo says Erwann. &ldquoRecently they made kholodets (a traditional Russian jellied meat dish) and I had no other option but to refuse.&rdquo

5. Is it possible to survive Russia&rsquos winter without eating meat?

&ldquoOne has to eat meat to survive the winter&rdquo is one of the most popular arguments that vegetarians hear in Russia on a day-to-day basis, especially from the older generation. According to Maria Dobrovolskaya from the Russian Academy of Sciences (link in Russian), agriculture in the north of the country developed slowly during the 12th and 13th centuries when the Little Ice Age was beginning, so people had no choice but to eat what was available: meat and fish.

Yet modern personal accounts show that surviving without meat is by no means impossible. Tamara, 32, a university professor from Moscow, says it hasn&rsquot been a problem for her. As a former meat-lover, she switched to a vegetarian diet two years ago due to ethical beliefs and hasn&rsquot had any difficulty living without meat during the winter.

&ldquoThere are all kinds of products available in Moscow&rsquos stores, but the question of clothing poses some problems,&rdquo she says. &ldquoRecently I learned that even goose down jackets are made non-ethically with birds being plucked of their feathers while alive, so now I have a problem with finding something for the winter. &rdquo

6. What are the key problems vegetarians/vegans face in Russia ?

Apart from the lack of clothing options and slightly tedious public attitude, vegetarians also say that it can take a lot of effort to maintain their lifestyle. Anna from Moscow, who was a vegetarian for seven years before stopping in 2015, recalls that it was an interesting period of her life, but she doesn&rsquot want to return to it because it simply took too much of her time to plan and cook food, as well as being more expensive. &ldquoThis wasn&rsquot something a mid-income person could afford,&rdquo she argues.

Others note that being a vegetarian in Russia means constantly telling everyone about your eating habits. &ldquoI have a vegetarian friend who complains about the necessity to remind people about her not eating meat every time she&rsquos in public,&rdquo says Oleg from Moscow. &ldquoRecently at a party someone ordered a pizza, but forgot about her being a vegetarian (she was in another room and couldn&rsquot remind them about it), so she ended up picking out the sausage before eating it.&rdquo

Another problem, raised by Olga who has a seven-year-old son (a healthy vegetarian boy), is coping with maintaining her child&rsquos diet while he&rsquos at school or with relatives: &ldquoIt might be hard sometimes to avoid freaking out and not ruin personal relationships!&rdquo

Despite all that, everyone acknowledges that the situation is changing for the better. &ldquoIn big cities there are more and more cafes, restaurants, shops, and books catering for vegans and vegetarians,&rdquo says Olga. &ldquoThe circle of such people in Russia is growing and they inspire each other, sharing their experiences and stories online. All in all, vegans in Russia are enjoying a better (and more fun) life.&rdquo

If using any of Russia Beyond's content, partly or in full, always provide an active hyperlink to the original material.

Meat's Impact on Health

You don’t need to give up meat to have a healthy diet—and for older adults, some meat can be a good thing—but you should limit your intake. Studies that seemed to exonerate saturated fat didn’t take into account what replaced it in peoples’ diets: refined carbs or unsaturated fats. And the Annals review was controversial, with many nutrition and health experts noting that it didn’t include the totality of the evidence regarding meat and health, questioning the way the analysis was conducted, and rejecting the conclusions.

“When it comes to cancer and heart disease, there’s a lot of data out there repeatedly showing there’s a higher incidence in people who consume a large portion of their diet as meat,” says David Levitsky, Ph.D., the Stephen H. Weiss Presidential Fellow in the division of nutritional sciences at Cornell University.

“The recommendations to cut back on meat have two main purposes, one being to lower exposure to saturated fat. The other, and more important, is that the more meat you’re eating, the less you’re eating of other foods, such as vegetables,” says Christopher Gardner, Ph.D., a nutrition scientist and professor of medicine in the Stanford Prevention Research Center in Stanford, Calif. “It’s all about the context of your greater diet.”

At the same time, though, eating some red meat can deliver important nutrients. First, it is a concentrated source of protein, which is important for preventing the loss of muscle (sarcopenia) that occurs with age. (Older adults should get about 0.6 gram of protein per pound of body weight a day—that’s about 90 grams for someone who weighs 150 pounds.) You can get protein from other sources—fish, dairy, poultry, nuts, beans, and tofu, for example—but beef “is a major source of iron,” says Levitsky. “Eating meat increases iron availability, particularly from plants whose iron is not always available.” Beef also has significant amounts of zinc, niacin, and vitamin B12. Many older adults don’t get enough B12, and deficiencies are linked to nerve problems, such as tingling and numbness, and memory loss. Fresh pork also supplies these nutrients, plus the B vitamin thiamin, important for regulating blood sugar levels and nerve and brain function.

Why did God prohibit eating meat with blood in it (Genesis 9:4)?

In Genesis 9 Noah receives a covenant from the Lord. Part of the covenant removed the prior restrictions against eating meat, allowing Noah and his family to kill animals for food. However, the allowance came with this proviso: “But you must not eat meat that has its lifeblood still in it” (verse 4).

One reason God prohibited the consumption of animal blood in the Old Testament was to teach respect for the sacredness of life. Blood is viewed as a symbol of life throughout the Bible (see Leviticus 17:11). The Bible’s first mention of the word blood is found in Genesis 4:10 where God asks the murderer Cain, “What have you done? Listen! Your brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground.” The shedding of blood represents the loss of life. In the New Testament, the “blood of Christ” is a common figure of speech for the “death of Christ” (Ephesians 2:13 1 Peter 1:19).

Under the Law of Moses, certain foods were considered unclean for consumption, including any meat with the blood still in it (Deuteronomy 12:16). The early church urged Gentile believers to abstain from eating bloody meat in order to not offend their Jewish brothers and to distance themselves from the practices of the pagans (Acts 15:20).

Another reason for God’s command not to eat bloody meat undoubtedly concerned the sacrifices. Blood was the only atonement for sin (2 Chronicles 29:24 Hebrews 9:22) therefore, blood was seen as a sacred thing. God wanted to ensure that the blood of the sacrifices was always considered precious. To preserve the people’s appreciation of the sacrifices, God could not allow blood to become a common food.

The humane treatment of animals may have been another reason why God told Noah not to eat meat with the blood still in it. God did not want mankind to act like the carnivorous animals, who caught their prey and began eating it immediately. Instead, they were to drain the blood from the carcass and thus ensure the animal was dead before it was consumed.

Further, some have suggested God may have given this command for health reasons. Blood present in meat means it is not fully cooked, and eating uncooked meat can lead to disease or sickness. We recognize this danger today, as attested by the USDA-mandated warnings found in modern-day menus: “Consuming raw or undercooked meats, poultry, seafood, shellfish, or eggs may increase your risk of foodborne illness.” In ancient cultures, the risk could have been even higher, given the lower standards for food safety.

In Christ, these food laws are obsolete, and the New Testament gives no blanket instruction for the church concerning food (Romans 14:14 1 Timothy 4:3). Romans 14:1&ndash4 teaches, “Accept the one whose faith is weak, without quarreling over disputable matters. One person’s faith allows them to eat anything, but another, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables. The one who eats everything must not treat with contempt the one who does not, and the one who does not eat everything must not judge the one who does, for God has accepted them. Who are you to judge someone else’s servant?” Scripture allows the Christian to have individual freedom regarding the consumption of meat and how it’s cooked.

In summary, God forbade eating bloody meat in the Noahic Covenant and in the Law of Moses. Both spiritual and physical reasons were likely behind this prohibition. In Christ, we have freedom of choice in this matter. However, as with all Christian freedom, we are to use self-restraint to avoid hurting another believer (Romans 14:13&ndash22). Ultimately, eating anything should be done to the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31).

The Many Different Types of Vegetarian Diets

Enrique Díaz / 7cero / Getty Images

“I’m a level 5 vegan—I don’t eat anything that casts a shadow,” said cartoon character Jesse Grasse on the television series "The Simpsons." It is not uncommon for people to wonder, “What can vegetarians eat?” The truth is people who follow a vegetarian dietary style can eat everything they want. The difference is that people who identify as vegetarians choose not to eat certain things.

Vegetarians have their reasons for choosing their dietary lifestyle whether it is health reasons, a distaste for meats, or a love for animals. If you are deciding what type or kind of vegetarian you want to be, think about what types of food you want to include or avoid. You don’t need to fit into one of these standard vegetarian categories, but understanding them will help you think about your short-term and long-term goals if you choose to follow a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle.

4. You’ll change how your genes work.

Scientists have made the remarkable discovery that environmental and lifestyle factors can turn genes on and off. For example, the antioxidants and other nutrients we eat in whole plant foods can change gene expression to optimize how our cells repair damaged DNA. Research has also shown that lifestyle changes, including a plant-based diet, can decrease the expression of cancer genes in men with low-risk prostate cancer. We’ve even seen that a plant-based diet, along with other lifestyle changes, can lengthen our telomeres—the caps at the end of our chromosomes that help keep our DNA stable. This might mean that our cells and tissues age more slowly since shortened telomeres are associated with aging and earlier death.

The Meat-Lover’s Guide to Eating Less Meat

Reducing your meat and dairy intake can help mitigate climate change. Melissa Clark has ideas for how to do it deliciously.

For all of my adult life, I’ve reveled in rare rib-eye steaks and oozing Camembert. I won’t let go of my drumstick until I’ve gnawed off every bit of cartilage and golden skin, and it’s best to not even talk about bacon so crisp that it won’t bend for that first porky bite.

Yet over the past few months, I’ve cut way down on my lamb chops and grilled cheese sandwiches. And if you’re a meat-and-dairy eater who aches over the environmental state of our planet, then you may be thinking of doing the same thing, too.

It started in the spring, when my Food colleague Julia Moskin teamed up with Brad Plumer from The New York Times Climate desk to report on how our current food system is contributing to climate change. The results were crystal clear and deeply depressing. Meat and dairy production alone account for 14.5 percent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions — as much each year as from all cars, trucks, airplanes and ships combined. It’s a staggering statistic.

I’d always considered my food choices to be outside the problem. I get a local farm box of produce every week, and frequent the farmers’ market for more vegetables, as well as grains and ethically raised meat. I limit seafood that’s not sustainable, and when I do shop at a supermarket I mostly fill my cart with organic whole foods that are not highly processed (the occasional bag of Cheetos aside).

Evidence is piling up, though, that this isn’t enough to make an impact. Only drastic changes will make a difference. The World Resource Institute, an environmental research group, recommends that wealthy nations cut their beef, lamb and dairy consumption by 40 percent to meet global emissions goals for 2050.

Becoming vegan would be the most planet-friendly way to go, followed by going vegetarian. In my case, those diets would be a professional liability, and to be perfectly honest, I don’t know that I’ve got the willpower to stick to either one. I love meat and dairy too much to give them up entirely. But eating less of them — that I can do.

On the upside, eating less meat and dairy means there is more room on my plate for other delectable things: really good sourdough bread slathered with tahini and homemade marmalade, mushroom Bourguignon over a mound of noodles, and all those speckled heirloom beans I keep meaning to order online.

10 Vegetarians Tell Us How They Really Feel About Impossible Burgers and Beyond

In May 2020, Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat saw a spike in demand as the COVID-19 pandemic slowed production of the beef and pork industries. Most famous for their burger alternatives, these products are part of a food category known as “meat analogue”—plant-based products designed to imitate meat—which explains why a demand was created when actual meat was in shorter supply. But it also begs the question: are Impossible and Beyond Burgers really intended, or suitable, for vegetarians?

This issue came to light lately when I was dining with a longtime vegetarian friend, Ali Ryan. She snapped a picture of the menu of the pub where we were eating to add to her growing catalog of restaurants that have recently replaced their more traditional veggie burger options with an Impossible or Beyond burger.

“For someone who has been a vegetarian either their whole life or the majority of their life, there is simply no desire for the taste of meat. If anything, there is an aversion,” says Ryan. “Replacing a true veggie burger—something hearty and palatable to a vegetarian dressed up and served in a bun—with an imitation beef burger is effectively taking away an option for a vegetarian, and adding one for a meat eater entertaining the idea of meatless Mondays.”

As a lifelong omnivore who’d recently tasted an Impossible burger, I could see her point. Had I not known what I was eating, I’d have found it to be an underwhelming, but acceptable hamburger. Do other vegetarians feel this way, I wondered? Naturally, no tidy consensus was to be found, not all vegetarians being alike in preferences or reasons for becoming one, but those queried had strong opinions, and many interesting issues were raised.

The 14 Dumbest Things Meat Eaters Have To Deal With

How does that joke go? "How can you tell if someone is a vegan/vegetarian? Don't worry, they'll tell you." Of course, not all vegetarians fit the pretentious stereotype, and they understandably don't like the constant assumptions. Just like meat eaters are tired of being pegged as gluttonous, cholesterol-drooling T-Rex. But times have changed. Vegetarians are no longer shunned outcasts as some still maintain. And with health becoming such a trend (even if it's not always well-adhered to), meat eaters are becoming a more regular target of food-shaming.

Enough! Below are the 14 dumbest things meat eaters have to deal with.

1. Being demonized by animal rights activists for eating meat.

We can eat meat and still be advocates for animal rights. Most meat eaters want animals to be treated as humanely as possible, and many of them take part in efforts to stop animal abuse just as vegetarians do. On the flip side, many fruits and vegetables come from farms that exploit low-wage migrant workers. Are you, veggie or meat eater, eating that produce? We're talking about human beings, not animals. Vegetarians would probably want those workers to be paid a decent wage and treated fairly, right?

2. Taking flak for not treating animals exactly like people.

As higher brain functioned beings, we should be concerned about the welfare of animals, but the fact remains: animals are not people. In some sections of the globe, animals are treated as pets, loved and cared for almost as members of the family. In other sections, those same animals are used as food sources. Dogs, cats, guinea pigs. Here, that would be bizarre if not downright horrific to some, but that's just a way of life in certain portions of the world. Different people, different upbringings, different diets.

3. "Do you have any idea what's in that?"

4. Being bombarded by grotesque "this is the reality of meat" photos.

We don't mind a documentary once in a while, or even truth-revealing photos. We're openminded people -- remember, we eat meat and vegetables. But suggesting is a much better strategy than forcing it into a social media feed. Vegetarians don't enjoy being ambushed because of their vegetarianism. Please, grant us the same courtesy.

Furthermore, most of us have never had romantic notions of what goes on in a slaughterhouse. We realize animals need to be killed and butchered in order for us to eat them, and that was never supposed to be a pretty affair. We also know that some actors in the meat industry are worse than others. You're not blowing any minds here.

5. "Do you know what that's doing to your insides?"

Yeah, the meat is delivering tasty care packages to a hunger zone desperately in need of them. Listen, we know in large quantities meat isn't the greatest thing for our health, but you know what? It tastes delicious and we're not perfect. No one is. If happiness to you is carrying around hundred pound bags of kale and tofu to prepare for the CrossFit Games, go for it.

6. Being expected to cater to vegetarian visitors, while vegetarians are never expected to cook meat for visiting meat eaters.

You choose to eat what you want. We choose to eat what we want. You've never heard the phrase "meat eater option." What a juicy, flame-broiled double standard. You know it is still possible to cook meat without it getting into your stomach, right?

(Relax, we're kidding. If you make this argument to your vegetarian friends, you're probably kind of a jerk. Sigh . meat problems.)

7. "Ugh, you're not actually going to eat that are you?"

Well, we were, until you decided to start lectur---no, you know what, meat forever:

8. "Meat production does great harm to the environment!"

Absolutely, when profit and cost cutting are the primary concerns, any industry can become a breeding ground for environmental insensitivity and ignorance, and food production is particularly vulnerable to this. Feel free to write your congressman, boycott those companies or organize a protest. Your friend eating a cheeseburger after a long day at work is just trying to live his life.

9. "You can get all your protein from these non-meat things!"

Mmmm, yeah, like beans, lentils, chickpeas, quinoa and yogurt. Those things all sound good. But it begs the question: do you grocery shop in a retirement home? Or perhaps another place where teeth are optional?

10. "Vegetables" is a much longer word than "meat."

Having to utter four syllables as opposed to just one? Sorry, this is the age of brevity, and people have short attention spans. Now, vegetarians might ask, "What does that have anything to do wi---" TOO LATE WE'RE ALREADY EATING OUR STEAKS.

11. Having to accommodate vegetarian friends when going out to eat.

Vegetarians are not the only ones with a limited number of places to eat. As meat eaters going out with vegetarian friends who insist on eating a real meal, we have fewer places to eat, too. And we don't always mind making the sacrifice. Hey, they're our friends. We accept them for who they are. Most of the time.

12. Having to explain bacon.

It's hard to understand if you don't eat it. Bacon is really great and meat eaters are not shy about expressing their love for it. We absolutely respect that it doesn't fit your diet, but don't ask us to explain its powerful and delicious magnetism.

13. Being lectured on how humans were never meant to eat meat.

Humans evolved into the superior species of the planet in part because of eating meat. That's right. Eating meat played a significant role in making our brains larger, as well as increasing our social and communication skills. Also our digestive systems are built for it. It's safe to say most people are fairly disgusted when animals are abused, but it's ironic when a vegetarian voices well thought out reasoning against the killing of animals. Because without the hunting and meat-eating portion of evolution, they might not have been physiologically able to.

14. Being called lazy or ignorant for not analyzing every aspect of where our food comes from.

To be blunt, some people just don't have the time to think about where their food comes from or what's happening to farm animals. In a perfect world, we would love for there to be zero animal suffering, 100 percent work efficiency and to see people living longer and healthier lives than ever before. But the cold hard truth is that 46.5 million people in the U.S. live in poverty. About 22 million people are underemployed. One in six people in the U.S. is food insecure, a nice way of saying they sometimes go hungry. These people don't necessarily have the luxury to worry about where their food comes from, or what's in it, or how it will be packaged and produced. Their most pressing concern is, "Will we have food?"

Meat eaters can and should care about decreasing animal cruelty. We can and should increase the efficiency of food production, which may even mean decreasing our total meat consumption. We can and should increase health awareness. But even if we are the most healthy, efficient and humane we can be, some will still view us as slobbering barbarians simply because we eat meat.

Vegetarians Who Eat Meat

The latest cookbook by Mollie Katzen, author of vegetarian bibles The Moosewood Cookbookand The Enchanted Broccoli Forest, includes recipes for spinach lasagna and vegetable tofu stir fry with orange ginger glaze. It also includes a recipe for beef stew. No, not "beef" stew, in which some soy-based protein substitute is dressed and spiced to look (and sort of taste) like meat. Beef stew. With real beef. From a cow.

Considered one of the chefs most responsible for the mainstreaming of vegetarianism in the 1970s and '80s, and a vegetarian herself for 30 years, Katzen began eating meat again a few years ago. "Somehow it got ascribed to me that I don't want people to eat meat," Katzen said. "I've just wanted to supply possibilities that were low on the food chain."

For as long as people have been foreswearing meat, they've also been sneaking the occasional corn dog. The difference is, vegetarians used to feel guilty about their sins of the flesh-consumption. Now, thanks to the cachet attached to high-end meat, they are having their burgers without sacrificing the moral high ground.

The word "flexitarian," meaning someone who mostly eats vegetarian with the occasional cheesesteak thrown in, has been around for a while. But only recently have former vegetarians been so smug about their forays to the dark side. "There is something almost primal about it," writes lapsed vegetarian Tara Austen Weaver, describing her first meat-buying expedition in The Butcher and the Vegetarian. "I haven't actually hunted dinner myself, but I set my sights and claimed the prize I sought." The "primalness" of the meat-eating (or meat-purchasing) experience comes up a lot in these conversion narratives, which inevitably take place at a quaint, family-run butcher shop. Some of these shops are even run by former vegetarians and vegans, such as Fleisher's, the upstate New York store where Julie Powell (of Julie and Juliafame) learned to carve up a steer for her forthcoming Cleaving.

Buying only grass-fed, sustainably raised (and incredibly expensive) meat allows former vegetarians to maintain the same sanctimony they expressed with their old "I don't eat anything with a face" T shirts. In response to an article by Jonathan Safran Foer about his decision to give up meat, a Brooklyn meat moralist wrote, "lovingly raised meat is not as hard to find as [Safran Foer] seems to think&mdashat least not if you have the good fortune to live near a farmers' market. Almost all the sheep and cattle and most of the pigs and chickens raised by the farmers who sell at those markets have spent their lives in the fields, free to run, graze and root as their natures dictate." This is the argument used by born-again carnivores like Katzen: eating meat is not ethically wrong. Eating ethically wrong meat (i.e., the cheap, mass-processed, hormone-stuffed burgers and steaks that constitute 80 percent of the meat sold in the U.S.) is wrong.

While it's true that sustainably raised, grass-fed beef may be better for the consumer, it's hard to argue that it's ultimately better for the cow. What these steak apologists seem to be missing is that no matter how "lovingly" the cow was raised, no matter how much grazing or rooting he did in his life, he gave up that life to become their dinner. Carnivores who only ate the flesh of animals that had died of natural causes at the end of long, satisfying lives might have a claim to moral superiority, but what to call them? Corpsevores? And if these organic farm animals have such great lives, isn't the more humane thing to eat a cage-raised, industrially processed chicken? At least we'd be putting it out of its misery.

The lion that wouldn&rsquot eat meat

From 1946 to 1955, A female African lion, born and raised in America, lived her entire lifetime of nine years without ever eating meat. 1 In fact, her owners, Georges and Margaret Westbeau, 2 alarmed by scientists&rsquo reports that carnivorous animals cannot live without meat, went to great lengths to try to coax their unusual pet (&lsquoLittle Tyke&rsquo) to develop a taste for it. They even advertised a cash reward for anyone who could devise a meat-containing formula that the lioness would like. The curator of a New York zoo advised the Westbeaus that putting a few drops of blood in Little Tyke&rsquos milk bottle would help in weaning her, but the lioness cub refused to touch it&mdasheven when only a single drop of blood had been added.

The more knowledgeable animal experts among the many visitors to the Westbeaus&rsquo 100 acre (40 hectare) ranch also proffered advice, but nothing worked. Meanwhile, Little Tyke continued to do extremely well on a daily diet of cooked grain, raw eggs and milk. By four years of age she was fully grown and weighed 352 pounds (160 kg).

As Georges Westbeau writes, it was &lsquoa young visitor&rsquo to Hidden Valley ranch who finally put his mind at ease in response to the question of how Little Tyke could be persuaded to eat meat (thought to be essential for carnivores to survive):

The owners of Little Tyke, though apparently not Christians, were so reassured by this that they no longer worried about her refusal to eat meat, and turned their attention instead to refining her &lsquovegetarian&rsquo 3 diet further, learning of new grains to add to the lioness&rsquos food. These numerous grains were ground and stirred together while in the dry state, then cooked and mixed with the milk and eggs. The lioness was fed this mixture each morning and evening, and sometimes at midday as well. (To condition her teeth and gums&mdashas she steadfastly refused all offers of bones to gnaw&mdashLittle Tyke was given heavy rubber boots to chew on, which generally lasted about three weeks.) The lioness not only survived on this diet, she thrived. One of America&rsquos &lsquomost able zoo curators&rsquo apparently said that the lioness &lsquowas the best of her species he had ever viewed.&rsquo

As well as Little Tyke, the Westbeaus cared for a menagerie of other animals at their ranch. A large number of the many visitors to Hidden Valley were motivated by the prospect of seeing &lsquothe lion that lives with the lamb&rsquo&mdasha situation similar to the prophecies of Isaiah 11:6. The sight of the lioness living placidly alongside sheep, cattle, and peafowl made a profound impression on many visitors. Television footage 4 and newspaper photos of Little Tyke also moved many people, such as one who wrote, &lsquoNothing has made me happier than your picture of the lion and the lamb. It has helped me believe in the Bible.&rsquo

In the light of Little Tyke&rsquos situation, along with anecdotes of other carnivorous animals surviving on vegetarian diets, 5 it is certainly easier to relate to the Genesis account of animals living solely on plants before Adam&rsquos Fall. 6

Mr Westbeau&rsquos observation of the lioness that &lsquoTo condition her stomach she would spend an hour at a time eating the succulent tall grass in the fields&rsquo, is also a vivid reminder of the prophecies of Isaiah 11:7 and 65:25, &lsquo &hellip the lion will eat straw like the ox.&rsquo