Since completing university, Paul has worked as a bookseller, librarian, and freelance writer. Born in the UK, he now lives in Florida.
The Pros and Cons of Being a Vegetarian
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.
9 Vegetarianism Pros
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Vegetarians are more likely to live longer than meat-eaters, according to studies.
- Raising animals in confinement is cruel and there are all sorts of practices involving livestock that are unethical and cause suffering.
- 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.
- A meat-free diet is cheaper. Lentils and beans are much more affordable sources of high-quality protein than meat.
- 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
8 Vegetarianism Cons
- 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?
- 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.
- 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.
- Meat is the most efficient way of getting protein in your diet, and it is also a supply of zinc, iron, and B vitamins. Meat is the best source for B12. Studies have also found that many vegetarians lack vitamin D.
- A diet focused on meat can help you to lose weight, as lean meat can supply a set amount of protein with relatively fewer calories than the equivalent amount of meat-free food.
- 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.
- Meat is a better source of iron than vegetables because the iron found in meat is more easily absorbed by the body than the iron in beans and leafy greens.
- 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.
Famous Vegans and Vegetarians
“If slaughterhouses had glass walls, everyone would be a vegetarian.”
— Paul McCartney
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
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
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
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
This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.
© 2013 Paul Goodman
New Guestbook Comments
Pat Goltz on March 24, 2014:
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.