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Vegetarianism vs. meat-eating with a 'conscience'

(31 Posts)
MrsSeanBean Sat 29-Aug-09 19:29:07

I have long grappled with the issue of whether or not to become a vegatarian.

What stops me, I think, is that me not eating meat probably won't actually achieve anything positive in terms of the lives of the countless animals that will still be slaughtered? Maybe for every 100 people who are vegetarians the number of animals killed dectreases slightly, but even if a few still suffer, what is the point if you can't ultimately eradicate the suffering of those who remain?

Wouldn't it be better to remain 'on the inside' so to speak, (ie a meat-eater) and try to change the industry by purchasing choices - buying good quality, cruelty free, non-factory produce?

Also, if I were to become a vegetarian, what would I do regarding leather goods? Surely you can't stop eating meat and still wear leather, a by-product (at best) of the food process?

Yet I still feel sickened by the thought of what happens in slaughterouses (I have read some distressing things os late) and the de-sensitised brutish people who may work there.

I don't mean to be controversial, and I suppose I am just turning things over in my head (which doesn't feel particularly sharp today), but it would be useful to hear some other points of view on this.

TheDMshouldbeRivened Sat 29-Aug-09 19:35:16

Didn't the veggie society say that if you don't eat meat 200 animals are not slaughtered? Its got to be less because as demand goes down less are sold for meat etc
No, you cant eradicate suffering but you can 'do your bit' I reckon.
Ethical meat - more demand equals better conditions but the free range meat is still slaugheterd in the same abbtoir under the same unpleasant conditions. But then small farms gowing mixed crops and some animals fertilise the soil.
I don't wear leather myself but when I turned veggie 25 years ago I wore what I already had until it wore out. Pair of shoes I think. haven't bought leather since.

Maybe start by going veggie and see how it goes. it wont kill you, the food can be healthy and filling.
And its better for the environment. The amount of meat western society eats is not sustainable.

MrsSeanBean Sat 29-Aug-09 19:41:38

This is my 'beef' (appalling pun not intentional) - why aren't there separate ethical slaughter-houses? It seems to make a nonsense of all the organic practices which have gone before only for, after all that, to be inhumanely killed with the poor factory animals!

AnnieLobeseder Sat 29-Aug-09 19:50:13

When I became vegetarian 15 years ago there wasn't any ethically-raised meat, so I stopped eating it, and I don't buy leather. I do see myself as a bit of a hypocrite though since I find myself unable to give up dairy, and the veal industry is a spin-off of dairy. Plus dairy cows are not treated very well in general.

Now that I can buy locally raised organic meat, I find that I'm prepared to eat that every now and then and am happy for my DDs to eat it. But 99% of the time I still eat vegetarian cos a) I don't know how to cook meat and b) it's expensive!

Why isn't there cruelty-free dairy, btw? We can easily get free-range eggs now, and ethically raised meat. Will dairy be the next to go ethical? Let's hope so!

I'm very encouraged by how things have changed in 15 years though. I used to have to read every label for meat product ingredients (I can spot the word 'gelatine' from 200 pace!) because there were no 'suitable for vegetarian' labels, there was no Quorn, no free-range eggs etc etc.

rek21 Sat 29-Aug-09 19:50:45

If you don't have a moral problem with killing animals for food then it is better to be an ethical meat eater I think. I don't eat meat unless I've bought it & know exactly where it is from, so I'm veggie at friends homes or in resteraunts. We probably eat veggie at home 4/5 nights a week too as this is healthier and reduces environmental impact. You need to think about how you consume dairy and fish too as these industries have huge environmental impacts and it is very difficult to buy 'happy' milk & fish. The organic mark has no welfare standards attached (currently). I have two vegan sil's who I admire hugely, but I could never manage it myself! Wot? No cheese? grin

rek21 Sat 29-Aug-09 19:53:41

Oops, sorry x-posted with Annie & said almost identical thing!

MrsSeanBean Sat 29-Aug-09 19:56:42

I suppose I do have a moral objection to the killing, but the realist in me accepts I can't stop it on my own.

I rarely buy or eat meat anyway, and often use quorn products. I just feel that if I'm going to become totally vegetarian, or possibly vegan, as Annie's point about the dairy industry is very pertinent, I want it to make a real difference. I feel I could do that better by - for example -(and this is gpoing to sound very odd) by starting a humane slaughterhouse. Would people support this do you think, if they knew animals would not be stressed, hurried, beaten, scared, and truly not suffer? Or am I living in a fantasy land?

A farmer friend once promised me (when I was in tears about it all) that cows 'know nothing' when they are sluaghtered, so I once opted only to buy (organic) beef.

Dogshitsonthedailymail Sat 29-Aug-09 19:58:51

Message withdrawn

cheesesarnie Sat 29-Aug-09 20:02:16

what riven said.

myself and 3 children are veggie.dh is not(but i dont feed him).i feel that by 4 of us not buying into the industry its a start.

peanutbutterkid Sat 29-Aug-09 20:02:45

The carbon footprint of meat is huge to other foodstuffs. You can make a big positive impact by avoiding meat for that reason alone.

Personally I am much more bothered about the treatment of dairy cattle than beef cattle. Think carefully about the sources of your milk and eggs, too.

MrsSeanBean Sat 29-Aug-09 20:09:02

I saw some calves being collected into a lorry the other day and it focused my mind. I just hope they were not bound for a long distance trip to Europe (or worse). Which brings me to wonder why so many people joliday in Turkey, with the vile cruelty they mete out to animals. Not to mention Spain etc.

I really feel, when I see a lorryload on the motorway, that I could murder the driver and let them all free, but that would not really be a sensible way to promote my cause.

(I would urge anyone who reads this to support Compassion in World Farming btw, if you don't already.)

MrsSeanBean Sat 29-Aug-09 20:09:56

holiday not joliday (2 yo ds has wrecked keyboard, so there will be assorted 'guesswork' typos...)

rek21 Sat 29-Aug-09 20:11:11

Well, in that respect, is a bit like voting, it's not the individual vote but the aggregate that counts and I think the tide of opinion is turning towards eating much less meant, if not full blown veganism. Also, I found that I felt better doing something, even if it didn't seem much to other peope.

There are small scale 'ethical' slaughterhouses around the country, often used by butchers who raise their own meat, if you have a local butcher you could ask him. But to me it sounds like it's the killing that offends you, so maybe you'd rather avoid meat products as much as possible?

MrsSeanBean Sat 29-Aug-09 20:13:44

I would feel much better about buying from an ethical slaughterouse, it's the suffering that bothers me most.

dittany Sat 29-Aug-09 20:19:24

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Meglet Sat 29-Aug-09 20:21:04

I've gone the other way. Was strict veggie for 17 years (no leather, veg cheese etc) but had a mad craving when pg with dd and scoffed organic chicken. We only buy chicken once a month or so and I get the free range organic one, the dc's eat organic ham. I will have a look for 'ethical slaugherhouses' though as I would rather pay more for meat but not eat it very often. We still cook 95% veggie food.

MrsSeanBean Sat 29-Aug-09 20:25:00

But does it really mean fewer animals are killed Dittany, or just that fewer are required, so fewer are bred / born? I just feel that no matter if 50% of the population was vegaetarian, the current cruel practices would still go on at some level.

Meglet, I agree.

dittany Sat 29-Aug-09 21:21:37

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Takver Sat 29-Aug-09 21:26:43

(apologies in advance for long post here) I'm with Meglet - I've been vegetarian & vegan at different points in the past, but I now eat some meat occasionally.

I think the real problem with meat & dairy eating, if you leave aside ethical (and religious) considerations about killing living beings (which are obviously the key point for a lot of people) is the current state of both livestock and arable farming, and the real geographical split that has come about between the two.

At the moment, stockless farming in nearly all cases means the east anglian prairie style chemical farms, I certainly wouldn't want to see the whole of Britain look like that.

Equally, meat & dairy farming is now so often a standalone industry, generally dependent on imported (into the farm, not necessarily into the country) feed, where animal manure (often in the form of slurry) very often becomes a problem rather than a resource.

I think that the single most positive thing to do in terms of eating meat is to choose meat from a mixed organic system - which I suppose basically means using a farmers market where you know which farm the meat comes from.

If everyone were to become vegan, as many people suggest, it might be positive - but I would want to be very certain that there was a lot of accumulated experience about vegan organic farming before we got to that stage.

I think that it might be where we really should be heading - I used to think that maybe we should be eating meat (particularly sheep) because they were a sensible use of upland farms where arable isn't an option, but I suspect that we should probably be using those sites for biomass crops (short rotation coppice & the like) for heating.

Having said all that, I reckon the number one guilt free meat is wild rabbit, where you are eating a pest that would otherwise be eating crops (or more likely be gassed - so its not as if the rabbit would be alive even without you eating it).

undercoverdad Sat 29-Aug-09 21:38:59

I'm an infrequent meat eater - I think Quorn is delicious, and feel much better after a bowl of Quorn chilli than a bowl of greasy meat chilli!

If you're thinking of going vegetarian, but not sure it would make enough difference to be worthwhile, I would say this: the difference you make is not just the quantifiable amount of what you personally do/don't consume, but - just as importantly - the example you set to others. You never know, you might inspire 10 other people to become veegie, then they each inspire 10 others, and there are the 100 vegetarians you mentioned (101 including you ;) ).

dittany Sat 29-Aug-09 21:43:06

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

cheesesarnie Sat 29-Aug-09 22:09:03

undercoverdad- very true.

but eurgh-tried quorn cocktail sausages today bleurgh.the dc loved them.

TheDMshouldbeRivened Sun 30-Aug-09 06:28:48

the carbon foot print of meat is a valid point.

MrsSeanBean Mon 31-Aug-09 13:16:02

The Real Meat Company seems to have very high welfare standards, and is the only source I've found so far which mentions slaughterhouses as part of the process - see here

dittany Mon 31-Aug-09 13:19:12

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

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