Meatless living is one of the topics of social interest that has sparked a significant amount of intellectual and unhealthy arguments. The antagonistic views between vegetarians and non-vegetarians are an area of interest requiring the intervention of a Rogerian argument. This kind of argument is interested in reaching common ground between the opposite sides as opposed to fully persuading one side of the other sides argument. This paper presents the Rogerian argument on vegetarian living.
Vegetarianism is abstinence from the consumption of meat products, including the flesh of any animal. In other instances, it could also include abstinence from the consumption of the by-products of meat. Such a lifestyle could be adopted by an individual for many reasons including the respect for animal life and life in general. Ethical reasons along the arguments of sanctity of life have been codified as religious reasons for vegetarian living and animal advocacy. In other instances, however, there are different motivations for vegetarianism including political, environmental, economic, personal preferences and health-related reasons. Bearing these in mind, the basis for the arguments for and against vegetarianism is explored in this paper to give a balance Rogerian argument.
Pro-vegetarian arguments have been propounded on different foundations. One of the reasons for the spread of vegetarianism is the need to reduce the amount of meat consumption in the world today. With a great number of health complications arising from the excessive consumption of different kinds of meat, especially red meat, there has been a rising trend towards vegetarianism in a bid to reduce the overall amount of related health complications. Vegetarian diets have been known to have risk-factor reduction effects on different conditions such as cancer and cardiovascular diseases (Fraser, 2009). Furthermore, healthy living is promoted through vegetarian diets for people already living with health conditions such as type-2 diabetes (Barnard, et al., 2006). Therefore, it can be argued that healthy living is based on vegetarian diets.
Aside from health concerns for the human population, there are also concerns among animal rights advocates concerning the dwindling numbers for different kinds of species due to human consumption. Seafood is a good example of animal species that have suffered due to excessive human consumption (Iles, 2004). Vegan diets come in as sustainable methods to reduce the consumption of these species and improve their sustainability. In line with this argument, there have been concerns about the animal conditions at rearing farms. Research has shown that there is a lot of ignorance concerning the condition of farm animals from where we obtain our meats (Mosel, 2001). Poor rearing conditions exposed to animals are not only harmful to human beings, but also to the animals themselves. Vegetarian and pro-animal rights activists have therefore been on the frontline against the consumption of meat products to improve the living conditions of such animals and reduce profit-driven rearing of animals that disregards basic animal rights. This is because animals are not only entitled to life, but quality of life as well. Therefore, vegetarians believe that human deprivation of animal meat is a necessary step to be taken if animals will enjoy meaningful life.
Different objectives, therefore, mark the arguments of vegetarian individuals. On one hand, some vegetarians have purely personal reasons for the need to enact vegetarianism. Such reasons include health reasons and personal preferences and inclinations. On the other hand, other reasons are politically or religiously motivated. Animal rights advocates, for example, are interested in the quality of life that animals face in the course of rearing and consumption which should normally not be present. Public health concerns surround the limited use of meat for the promotion of general public health in cases of lifestyle diseases.
On the other side of the coin stand non-vegetarians who have completely different arguments regarding the inclusion of meat in ones diet. The foundational argument is based on the premise of personal preference for ones diet. The right to ones privacy is fundamentally being exercised when one chooses what to eat. A third party may not impose on the person what they may eat, regardless of the power of such a third party. Most of the proscription for vegetarianism is based on religious grounds. For example, there are instances in the Jewish religion where vegetarianism is recommended. In those cases, nonetheless, the provision is not cast on stone; rather, it is up to the individual to deicide their personal commitment to going on a meatless life (Cohen, 1992). Furthermore, most religions only outlaw the eating of certain types of meat and not all meat in general. Moving to enact purely vegetarian diets for everybody would therefore go against religious, political and social thresholds acceptable to give the individual autonomy. Therefore, non-vegetarians argue that people cannot be forced to endure meatless diets for all their lives simply because of the discomfort of others. Where others have dissatisfaction concerning meat consumption does not place a personal duty to share in or satisfy such a need.
Furthermore, meat consumers cannot be blamed for poor conditions of animals. Kantian ethics may propose a model for the solution to this problem. Where the universal good is considered, one must place importance on the need to ensure that animals are treated well when being reared, even if for meat (Egonsson, 1997). A Kantian expression of non-vegetarianism can be adopted due to the need for meat in ensuring food security in the world. At the same time, however, animal keepers are tasked with the direct task of obtaining profit from their business having subjected the animals to the best possible treatment available to them. This means proper feeding, animal safety and clean rearing environments. Further than that, it would be impossible to remove any cruelty from the lives of animals as their death is a necessary evil if they are going to be consumed. Therefore, it is possible to implement policies to ensure that animal safety practices are applied in farms for animal safety and quality living. Research in the United Kingdom, for example, showed that there was a need to educate British consumers on the correlation between food and animal safety in farms. A successful education of British citizens on the improvement of food quality with an increased level of farm safety showed improvements in the general handling of animals (Harper & Makatouni, 2002). Therefore, public education efforts can be put in place to ensure that meat eaters are aware of the source of their farm animals, and that farm owners can engage sensitive and quality-based animal rearing practices to improve production. Enforcement agencies can also be put in place to ensure that enforcement of minimum standards of animal rearing is put in place. Non-vegetarians argue that it is not possible to let animals free. If they arent supposed to be eaten, how come they are made out of meat?
Considering this issue from an environmental perspective, it is notable that the reduction of animal consumption is not an urgent matter in many countries. For example, seafood consumption is only endangered in the United States, where the populations demand for seafood far exceeds the natural ability to supply (Iles, 2004). Even with this being the case, seafood prices have been driven up to reduce the demand placed on the environment to provide adequate seafood. Be it as it may, this is a rare occurrence and many countries have not formalized the need to reduce on any types of meat consumption. The result is that no urgency is placed on reducing meat consumption. Therefore, people are not inclined to act in a curative or preventive manner if there is no apparent threat to the existence of any species. Moreover, meat is the most readily available source of animal protein available in the planet. Reducing its consumption would need to have serious societal organization in response to a problem or the imminent threat of a problem. Governmental or international orders would therefore need to be present before such an action is taken. This should first begin with species that are marked as endangered and move on to other species. Even then, the extremity of such an action is apparent to both the vegetarian and non-vegetarian.
Non-vegetarians also argue the merits of meat consumption. A useful compromise between the two arguments could be given through a reasonable restriction of meat consumption, especially for endangered species. Environmental interests can be brought on board for the purpose of this change. However, plentiful animals may not be subjected to such restrictions as they are presently available. Additionally, animal safety programs could be implemented in farms to ensure high quality living for those animals.
In conclusion then, vegetarians argue that species safety and improvement of animal conditions are among some of the reasons for vegetarianism. On the other hand, non-vegetarians prefer to have meat on their table while exploring different avenues to resolve vegetarian issues. Additionally, they argue that diet is a matter of personal preference and cannot be fed on someone. Therefore, vegetarianism remains to be an issue of social debate.
Barnard, N. D., Cohen, J., Jenkins, D. J., Turner-McGrievy, G., Gloede, L., Jaster, B., & Talpers, S. (2006). A low-fat vegan diet improves glycemic control and cardiovascular risk factors in a randomized clinical trial in individuals with type 2 diabetes. Diabetes care, 29(8), 1777-1783.
Cohen, A. S. (1992). Vegetarianism from a Jewish perspective. Journal of Halacha and Contemporary Society, 1, 38-63.
Egonsson, D. (1997). Kant's vegetarianism. The Journal of Value Inquiry, 31(4), 473-483.
Fraser, G. E. (2009). Vegetarian diets: what do we know of their effects on common chronic diseases? The American journal of clinical nutrition, 89(5), 1607S-1612S.
Harper, G. C., & Makatouni, A. (2002). Consumer perception of organic food production and farm animal welfare. British Food Journal, 104(3/4/5), 287-299.
Iles, A. (2004). Making seafood sustainable: merging consumption and citizenship in the United States. Science & Public Policy (SPP), 31(2).
Mosel, A. (2001). What about Wilbur-Proposing a Federal Statute to Provide Minimum Humane Living Conditions for Farm Animals Raised for Food Production. U. Dayton L. Rev., 27, 133.
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