In a nation being revolutionized by new trends and radical thinking, even our eating patterns are being analyzed and judged. Once strictly an avenue to fuel our bodies, food is seen today as a reflection of our moral ideals and because we all must eat, no one is excluded from the debate.
The mainstream commercializing of all natural, organic, free—range and flat-out vegetarian products have kept alive the passionate, but often misinformed arguments of organizations like People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. Despite the stereotype of the tree—hugging health nut vegetarian, for many college students, the freedom to make their own lifestyle choice has led plenty of wholesome and sane people to go meatless. They stand united as a rebelling force, advocating animal rights over taste buds and attacking the public with documentaries that unveil cruel slaughter facilities and unjust treatment of livestock.
However, the argument for those of us who enjoy a juicy steak every now and again remains strong. Meat is moral on the standings of health, tradition and nature.
In order to take a fair stand in the fight to eat or not to eat, we must separate concrete facts from sensationalized emotions. We all regret that Bambi and Bessie cannot be household pets, but from a scientific standpoint, meat just happens to be a kind of super-food. It contains the power to rev up the metabolism, build lean muscle and provide crucial fatty amino acids. Among a sea of snacks doused in artificial color and flavoring, and oozing with added sugar, meat should be ranked much lower on of the list of dangerous lifestyle diets.
According to powerofmeat.com, “meat is the most naturally occurring, well balanced and easily obtained and digested package of proteins, essential acids and source of iron and Vitamin B-12 that you can find.”
Popular substitutes like beans and nuts are not considered complete proteins because they are missing certain amino acids that meats like turkey and roast beef are full of. Therefore, vegetarians who believe they are caring for their bodies could have a higher risk for iron, riboflavin and B-12 deficiencies, which can cause memory loss.
Furthermore, the concern for the way we are preparing meats can be eradicated by the fact that humans naturally produce hormones needed for normal functioning and that the government carefully regulates the use of added hormones in meat. According to meatpoultrynutrition.org, the amount of hormones found in most meat is negligible in comparison to the amount naturally occurring in the human body and is not linked with health complications. These methods are used most often to preserve or enhance the taste of meat, and numerous scientific reports have determined that natural and synthetic hormones are safe when used as directed in animal food production.
We should not feel guilty about something our bodies are designed to use for fuel. Forbidding ourselves to eat specific kinds of foods only adds to American’s already turbulent relationship with food, sending the message that we should deprive ourselves of something we enjoy.
Beyond reclaiming the healthy side of meat lies the argument that no matter how much our species evolves, we must remember we are animals and, therefore, part of the food chain that corresponds with the natural order of life. You would never watch the Discovery Channel and condemn the cheetah for hunting the gazelle, because this is the food that sustains it.
Studies have argued that it was our ancestors’ search for animal foods that initiated the expansion of our population across the globe. Other research has shown that prehistoric humans could not have been vegetarians, because plants alone could not have provided adequate calories and nutrients to survive. We can thank our meat—eating ancestors for our existence today. Man has eaten meat for generations. Our ancestors survived from the flesh of animals and even sacred texts contain stories of holy men eating fish.
In the modern world, the meat industry has become a staple for the economy and local farmers, yielding a lead enterprise in the U.S. The American Meat Institute claims 6.2 million jobs alone.
What vegetarian activists do not acknowledge is the fact that meat is not inherently bad, but rather it is the way we consume it that has posed such controversy.
Instead of insisting we stop consuming meat altogether, we can approach poor meat—eating culture in a new way, first by challenging others to eat meat in smaller portions that reflect what our bodies can benefit from. Many meat industry practices labeled “inhumane” derive from massive production. Reduced overall consumption will, in turn, promote more humane raising, like grass—fed cattle, slaughtering and safer butchering and packaging for the consumer. This simple step may be what it takes to create peace among us all.