Vegetarianism and Being Human

cat eating broccoli

Case 1: Some of the biggest crimes in the world right now, such as discrimination (based on race, sexual orientation, etc), rape, murder and cannibalism are all "natural". They all originate from primitive parts of our very own brain and are also observed in other animals.

For example,

  • Dolphins and chimps are known to rape each other.
  • Snakes kill other snakes and eat them.
  • Dogs will discriminate against dogs outside their pack.

There are plenty more examples in nature. Yet, we consider these actions inhumane and seek to eradicate them from society.

Case 2: Non-vegetarians defend meat-eating as it is "natural", reasoning that that our bodies are designed to consume meat and that other animals do it freely. Considering the above case, this train of thought seems awfully hypocritical. Why is not wanting to harm humans considered natural, but not wanting to harm other animals considered unnatural?

Does compassion only extend toward other humans and not any other animal? Other animals cannot speak, but they *can* feel and are more intelligent than most people imagine them to be. Eating meat is rarely an issue of survival in this day and age. How can one possibly call himself a human-- compassionate, empathetic and knowledgeable-- and simultaneously be okay with animals being slaughtered for luxury? I'm not even talking about the cruel processes created by humans to factory-farm meat, only the simple action of killing an animal for its meat even when it is not a question of survival. Is it worth brutally slaughtering an animal for 10 minutes of taste bud pleasure?

Yes, animals do kill other animals including humans, but that is because they don't have our superior reasoning power. For example, while I can understand the implications of killing other animals, my pets cannot and there is no way I can explain it to them. Forcing a carnivorous animal to eat plants would be cruel and detrimental to its health. However, it is not the same case with humans as they can be taught not to kill and do not suffer from following a purely vegetarian diet. It is a disrespect to the human intellect to stoop down to the level of animals.

It is by complete accident that we have been bestowed the gift of superior intellect. We could consider ourselves rulers of Earth if we had done something to achieve our intellect, but we haven't. We share this planet, not own it.

I'm not advocating that meat-eaters should be looked down upon or punished. This issue has to do more with education than punishment. Jailing murderers hasn't put an end to murder. We need to understand what being human means and what human qualities are. There are plenty of people who would happily slaughter their next meal, assuming they have no real reason to eat meat other than pleasure. But would they still do it with full realization of human qualities? If we are truly human, we should not be taking the lives of innocent beings purely for pleasure.

Some argue that the use of cosmetics and medicines should also be abandoned by vegetarians, because they are tested on animals. It is a more complex situation than animal slaughter, because the end goal is to gain knowledge and reduce loss of life in the long run. The fact that animals have to suffer for these purposes is a major flaw in research, however there is increasing awareness and pressure to end the practise of testing products on animals. Products tested on animals should be avoided to the maximum extent possible, however this is difficult in the case of life-saving drugs.

The argument that most of the world eats meat, thus making it normal is nonsensical. Human knowledge has had many flaws, such as the view that the Earth was the center of the universe, or that differences in skin colour mark humans as separate species. Historically, visionaries who sought to move human understanding forward have always been held back by the masses, led by people with their own greedy agendas.