The meat of the argument

Pro-vegetarianism, by Eliza McLamb

Hamburgers. Hot dogs. Cookouts. ‘Merica. It’s no secret that meat is a staple of the American nation; walk into any restaurant and you’re guaranteed a dish fit for a carnivore. With over 96 percent of the United States population identifying as meat-eaters, and a culture that encourages meat consumption at every turn, a meat-inclusive diet is seen as the standard — and why wouldn’t it be? Ask any meat-eater and they cite it as an integral food group in a human diet. We’ve all heard about the nutritional benefits of meat since childhood, yet rarely ask ourselves, from where?

The American Cancer Society, American Diabetes Association and the American Heart Association all encourage meat consumption in a diet aimed to combat their respective illnesses. These organizations fund, organize and promote the blueprints for healthy diets nationwide—many of which are taught in public school health classes.

Children grow up under the guise that these organizations are well-intentioned and credible, despite the fact that groups like the World Health Organization have classified some types of meat as top-tier carcinogens—on par with tobacco in terms of cancer-causing elements. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition says that one serving of processed meat a day increases your risk of developing diabetes by 51 percent, and the Physician’s Committee for Responsible Medicine identifies chicken as the number one source of cholesterol in the American diet. Why would these medical organizations promote foods that cause the diseases they fight to prevent? The answer lies in their corporate partners.

All three of these organizations get a considerable amount of funding from the leading meat production companies. Tyson foods, Conagra, Cargill and countless other corporations constantly pump money into the groups that provide this nutritional “education,” in exchange for the worldwide promotion of their products. But sadly, as appalling as the corporate influence on health organizations may seem, it is far from shocking.

Our national food culture is built on the consumption of meat—and clearly not because of its nutritional benefits. Animals are easy to control, house, slaughter, package and export to your favorite restaurants. McDonalds, Burger King, Chick-fil-a and Taco Bell have been among the most successful fast food chains since their inception, and vegetarians are kidding themselves if they think that it’s possible for the whole world to go plant-based. The meat industry dominates our food system in a terrifying way; poor people have very little choice when it comes to eating foods that are likely to cause them health problems down the line. It’s no accident that the leading meat production companies are heavily sponsored by top pharmaceutical industries. Hmm.

Lest you forget, everything in the Land Of The Free And The Home Of The Brave is a business. The pipeline from pharmaceutical companies, to meat companies, to medical “organizations” is just another profit-driven system. Going vegetarian is just one simple step to a long road of resistance. And truly, this systematic manipulation of an uneducated populace is a staple of the American nation. Corporatism. Deception. Meat. Money. ‘Merica.

Anti-vegetarianism, Shamael Partridge

Many people try to dissuade meat-eaters by telling us that eating meat is unhealthy for the environment. While in some cases they aren’t wrong, vegetable production and consumption can be worse than that of meat. A study in 2015 by Carnegie Mellon University has backed that eating lettuce is over three times worse in greenhouse gas emissions than bacon. This means that the emissions for someone’s crisp, “healthy” salad is more than my greasy pile of bacon.

Other evil vegetarians will try to attack the meat lovers by saying that it’s unethical to consume another breathing organism, but there are no tigers in nature thinking, “Wow, it’s morally wrong for me to eat this elephant.” So why is it wrong for humans to eat animals that we find tasty? It’s all part of the food chain, and we’re the consumers.

hile I don’t condone the extremely harsh treatment of livestock raised for food, there are many companies that raise animals in humane conditions on farms. Some companies, like Kobe-Niku in Japan go as far as massaging their cattle daily and playing classical music as a means of relaxation.

While I would never bash someone for being a vegetarian, there are many valid reasons for why meat eating is the best. The first being that I simply enjoy it. It tastes good. Every time I hear the sound of a pan searing a steak, I break into my DJ Khaled “Wild Thoughts” dance. I’ll also continue to protect the omnivore lifestyle because some individuals need to eat meat to supplement their nutrition. For example, people with chronic or severe anemia need meat to retain their hemoglobin levels because they don’t get enough iron from other sources such as beans and leafy vegetables. We also need meat to gain healthy weight and stay physically stable. Especially for my people out there trying to get those gains.

A way to solve the everlasting “beef” between vegetarians and normal people is an easy one. Y’all do y’all, and we’ll do us. No pictures or facts about being a vegetarian — I don’t care. And for my meat-eating family: do your research! While eating meat is the correct way to live life, supporting companies who treat animals like meaningful creatures goes hand in hand. By supporting humane companies and local meat markets, you can sleep at night knowing that you’re doing the right thing.