The Pros and Cons of Vegetarianism

Updated on September 12, 2017
PaulGoodman67 LM profile image

Since completing university, Paul has worked as a bookseller; librarian; and freelance writer. Born in the UK, he now lives in Florida.

Pros and cons of vegetarianism: Collection of fresh produce on display.  Vegetarians believe that a healthy and satisfying diet can be achieved without the need for meat.
Pros and cons of vegetarianism: Collection of fresh produce on display. Vegetarians believe that a healthy and satisfying diet can be achieved without the need for meat. | Source

Vegetarianism is practiced by people around the world for a variety of reasons, including ethical, health, religious, and environmental concerns.

Although vegetarianism has been firmly established in Eastern Asia for many centuries, vegetarianism pretty much disappeared from Western culture after the Roman Empire adopted Christianity. It didn't begin to reappear until the 19th and 20th Centuries.

Vegetarians form just over 3% of the modern US population. Two thirds of American vegetarians are female.

I hope that you enjoy my list of the pros and cons of vegetarianism, which lists the main arguments used for and against.

Famous Vegans and Vegetarians

“You have just dined, and however scrupulously the slaughterhouse is concealed in the graceful distance of miles, there is complicity.”

— Ralph Waldo Emerson
American Founding Father, Benjamin Franklin was sympathetic to vegetarianism and adopted a vegetarian diet for a time, mainly for ethical reasons, but also cost.  He was inspired by the English author of self-help books, Thomas Tyron.
American Founding Father, Benjamin Franklin was sympathetic to vegetarianism and adopted a vegetarian diet for a time, mainly for ethical reasons, but also cost. He was inspired by the English author of self-help books, Thomas Tyron. | Source

My refusing to eat flesh occasioned an inconveniency, and I was frequently chid for my singularity. I made myself acquainted with Tryon's manner of preparing some of his dishes, such as boiling potatoes or rice, making hasty pudding, and a few others, and then proposed to my brother, that if he would give me, weekly, half the money he paid for my board, I would board myself.

— Ben Franklin

The Pros of Vegetarianism

1. Killing animals for food is cruel and immoral. Scientific evidence shows that animals like pigs, sheep, chickens and cows feel stress, fear and pain when faced with and experiencing their death.

2. Killing animals for food is unnecessary in the modern world, when there are vegetarian options easily available. There is no good reason why animals should die in order to meet an arbitrary dietary choice.

3. A vegetarian diet has been shown to have many health benefits, including lower rates of heart disease, gallstones, and colon cancer, plus it can also reduce blood pressure.

4. Vegetarians are generally thinner than meat eaters and less likely to be obese. Studies show that people who eat a meat-free diet to have a lower body mass index (BMI) on average.

5. Vegetarians are more likely to live longer than meat eaters, according to studies.

6. Raising animals in confinement is cruel and there are all sorts of practices involving livestock that are unethical and cause suffering.

7. A vegetarian diet can reduce world hunger, as the grain used to feed animals could be far more efficiently used to feed humans. For example, it has been estimated that the grain used to feed the livestock in the USA could feed 800 million people instead.

8. A meat-free diet is cheaper. Lentils and beans are much more affordable sources of high-quality protein than meat.

9. Vegetarian meals tend to be naturally higher in fiber than those that include meat.

“Animals are my friends...and I don't eat my friends.”

— George Bernard Shaw
Ex-Beatle, Paul McCartney is one of the world's most famous proponents of vegetarianism.  His first wife, Linda, was also involved in the retail trade, managing the production of frozen vegetarian meals under the Linda McCartney Foods name.
Ex-Beatle, Paul McCartney is one of the world's most famous proponents of vegetarianism. His first wife, Linda, was also involved in the retail trade, managing the production of frozen vegetarian meals under the Linda McCartney Foods name. | Source

“If slaughterhouses had glass walls, everyone would be a vegetarian.”

— Paul McCartney

Mercy For Animals' Pro-Vegetarian MTV Commercials

“He soon acquired the forlorn look that one sees in vegetarians.”

— Gabriel Garcí­a Márquez

Mark Bittman Argues Against Vegetarianism

Vegetarian - that's an old Indian word meaning lousy hunter.

— Andy Rooney
Pro-hunting and enthusiastic meat-eating musician, Ted Nugent has often mocked vegetarianism.  Nugent claims that he has suffered death threats from animal rights extremists and he has been in a number of some high profile legal conflicts.
Pro-hunting and enthusiastic meat-eating musician, Ted Nugent has often mocked vegetarianism. Nugent claims that he has suffered death threats from animal rights extremists and he has been in a number of some high profile legal conflicts. | Source

Vegetarians are cool. All I eat are vegetarians--except for the occasional mountain lion steak.

— Ted Nugent
The American chef and television personality, Anthony Bordain has spoken of his love of meat and meat dishes.  He is an advocate for "peasant foods", dishes that use parts of an animal not usually eaten by modern U.S. people, as well as common cuts.
The American chef and television personality, Anthony Bordain has spoken of his love of meat and meat dishes. He is an advocate for "peasant foods", dishes that use parts of an animal not usually eaten by modern U.S. people, as well as common cuts. | Source

To me, life without veal stock, pork fat, sausage, organ meat, demi-glace, or even stinky cheese is a life not worth living.

— Anthony Bourdain, Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly

The Cons of Vegetarianism

1. Humans have been eating meat for over 2 million years. It is part of the way that we have evolved. If we weren't meant to eat meat, why do we have canine teeth?

2. The death of animals is part of the natural cycle. Every animal must die at some point and dying so that another creature might live is not a bad thing. It is not cruel or unethical, just part of the natural process.

3. Choosing what to eat is an individual liberty and taking away the option of eating meat, as some vegetarians would like, would be an infringement of a meat eater's rights.

4. Meat is the most efficient way of getting protein in your diet, and it is also a supply of zinc, iron, and the B vitamins. Meat is the best source for B12. Studies have also found that many vegetarians lack vitamin D.

5. A diet focused on meat can help you to lose weight, as lean meat can supply a set amount of protein with relatively less calories than the equivalent amount of meat-free food.

6. Vegetarianism does not make you live longer. Vegetarians do tend to be more health conscious and this is what gives them their longevity. A health conscious meat eater will live just as long as a vegetarian, however.

7. Meat is a better source of iron that vegetables, because the iron found in meat is more easily absorbed by the body than the iron in beans and leafy greens.

8. Everybody turning to vegetarianism would not solve world hunger. There is already enough food in the world to feed everyone. The problems are more to do with food distribution, economics and wars.

Don't even get me started. I'm not against all vegetarians. But if you're a vegetarian for ethical reasons, you may be causing more harm.

— David Chang

A Debate About Vegetarianism

Going meat-free can make a huge difference. Studies show that vegetarians are, on average, 10 to 20 pounds lighter than meat-eaters and that a vegetarian diet reduces our risk of heart disease by 40 percent and adds seven or more years to our lifespan.

— Ingrid Newkirk
Doctor John Harvey Kellogg, best known for inventing the breakfast cereal known as corn flakes, was an advocate of vegetarianism.  He also believed in abstaining from tobacco and alcohol and adopting a regime of rigorous physical exercise.
Doctor John Harvey Kellogg, best known for inventing the breakfast cereal known as corn flakes, was an advocate of vegetarianism. He also believed in abstaining from tobacco and alcohol and adopting a regime of rigorous physical exercise. | Source

My wife is a vegetarian. When my wife is with me, I eat vegetarian. When she's not, I eat meat. I'm just being honest.

— J. B. Smoove

Your Opinion

Are you for or against vegetarianism?

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Questions & Answers

    © 2013 Paul Goodman

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      • Pat Goltz profile image

        Pat Goltz 

        4 years ago

        I am not a vegetarian because I require a high protein diet, and getting complete protein on a vegetarian diet without getting a lot of carbs is very difficult. I must eat low carb. Vegetarianism leads to malnutrition. There are far more problems than what you have mentioned. And most OLDER vegetarians I have known have been either too underweight, or overweight to obese. Vegetarianism defeats some of the major factors that lead to fat balance in the body. Some parts of the world do not have land that can be used to grown human food, but they will grow grasses and other things animals can eat. To feed as many people as possible, we need to graze animals on that land. Animal manure enriches the soil used to grow vegetables, and without animal manure, eventually the soil will be depleted. There are other parts of the world where people who refuse to eat meat would simply starve. This is true in the Arctic during the winter, for example.

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