The Case Against Meat

November 19, 2017


I have begun not eating meat or fish again for at least four reasons. This will outline my thought processes.

Note: This is not a polemic, nor is it a request for comments. I am not interested in your reasons for eating meat. I am not interested in your arguments about why I should eat meat. It is likely that if you are reading this it is because you asked for my reasons, and this is my answer. But that wasn’t an invitation to “a conversation” in which you then try to talk me out of it.

Reason 1 – My Health

I have always struggled with my cholesterol, and my numbers at my physical in 2016 weren’t good. My doctor was talking statins if they don’t improve, so I would rather try to make them improve without medication. After being just a vegetarian (not vegan) again for about a month, I had my numbers checked and they were much better. Total cholesterol is still high, but the “ratio” of HDL/Total was great (3.6, with 3.5 or below considered “excellent”).

Reason 2 – The Environment

I won’t go into depth here, but just list the usual suspects. CAFOs are obviously the top one, and it’s a big one for me. The water usage and runoff from livestock (or “protein,” grrr) raisers worldwide is huge as well, especially as water is going to get more scarce. Just the general amount of fuel and resources needed and pollution produced in general by animal husbandry are also on my mind.

The depletion of fishing stocks in the oceans has led me to believe there is no environmentally sustainable way to continue to consume fish at the levels we do, which is unfortunate because I will miss sushi (although veggie sushi is pretty damned good).

And that doesn’t even count things like antibiotics in feed, feeding fish and other animals to livestock, etc.

Reason 3 – Spiritual Honesty

Sometime in the past five years, sitting there contentedly communing with my dog Merv, I’ve known I am sitting there with another consciousness, a “being.” Others may argue about whether animals have souls or not, but I know from being with my dog that they feel happiness, excitement, pain, sorrow and other emotions. And if a dog like mine, with his small brain, can feel those things, then probably a cow can, too. Or even a chicken.

At some point, it is easier to not try to draw the line of “This brain is small enough to eat – it’s OK” versus “This brain is too sophisticated, we can’t eat it.” In a similar manner, I once had a boss whose five-year old daughter sounded out “Dolphin safe” on a tuna can, and asked what that meant. When her mom explained that the tuna was caught in a way that kept dolphins from being killed, she asked, “But Mom, what about the tuna?,” and became a vegetarian on the spot.

Combine that with my own realization that I would never eat meat again if I had to butcher the animals to do it. I don’t even like cutting up a fish any more. There is just too much of a feeling of, “This was a living, breathing being with God’s life implanted in them,” and then when I look up and see my dog I wonder, “How can I judge the difference?”

Some would say, “You could just ‘go organic,’” but in the end the animal is still dead. It was raised specifically to be killed and consumed.

"Our beef comes from happy cows"
- Whole Foods sign in Boulder

"They aren't happy any more."
- me

We’re not talking, “But if you were starving, you could.” Because I am not starving, and likely never will be. So it isn’t a matter of survival - I don’t need to eat meat to survive.

Finally, some may argue animals are placed under our dominion to be “sacrificed” to us, but I’m just not that important, thanks.

Reason 4 - Simpler Life

I want to continue to simplify and downsize, and not eating meat will help with that. Less food in the fridge. Less types of cookware needed to produce a dinner. A lot less money! I loves me a good ribeye, but don’t feel like taking out a second mortgage to have one these days. But if I am then “settling” on “just” sirloin, why not settle on saving the cow’s life entirely, and have a grilled portobello instead?

Also, I honestly enjoy a lot of meatless meals. So if I don’t need to eat meat in any given meal, then why eat it – just because of convention? “Sorry, cow – you had to die because I have to have some kind of meat on the plate to satisfy society, and your species was in the rotation for tonight.” That doesn’t cut it with me. Basically, we eat meat because of tradition. But hey, we used to own other people because of tradition, too, so tradition isn’t enough of an argument.


I am certainly not doing this to make life easier. In this part of the country eating out as a vegetarian is boring - pasta prima vera, salads (but not Caesar, Cobb or anything like that), bean burritos, a few uninspired Chinese dishes…and you’re done. Or drive to the Indian restaurant in Columbia, 30 miles away.

I will probably still eat meat from time to time. Mmm, Mom’s home cooking. But I am going to try and be much more mindful of it. I am going to be aware it is not just “meat” or “protein” (nice euphemism), but a dead animal, an ex-being – and consume it with that thought. Being aware that there are health, environmental, spiritual and lifestyle aspects to eating another being are all part of it.

But if it is cooked by someone else and served to me - thinking specifically of eating at my parents, for example (and not how to “game the system” by simply having someone else do it for me), then I will eat it. Similar to how some (not all) Buddhist monks will eat whatever is put into their begging bowl, even if it is meat, because to do otherwise would be to waste the food, which is worse, since then the animal was killed for effectively no reason.

But I don’t want to personally increase the demand for meat.


I have bought but have been putting off reading a new book:

A Plea for the Animals: The Moral, Philosophical, and Evolutionary Imperative to Treat All Beings with Compassion

Also see this.