Why: Practically all I Eat is Meat. ~ John Spina

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on Jul 14, 2010
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Hooray for meat!

It’s a Dog-eat-Cat World out There.

ed’s note: Jack is a great guy, and in good shape, and a nice guy. He’s one of our interns from the University of Vermont. I’m a pretentious idealist vegetarian. He’s not. So I asked him to explain himself, and why he loves meat so damned much. He was generous in agreeing to do so. Let’s return the flavor and be respectful in our comments, y’all! ~ ed.

~

I am so sick of hearing how bad meat is, both morally and in terms of one’s health. It seems like everywhere I look, people are nitpicking problems with it.

Nonetheless, I love to eat meat—and do so just about every meal of the day. My reasoning, other than its incredible taste, is quite simply the food chain.

A rabbit, essentially the bottom of the food chain, can eat lettuce or a carrot but could never eat meat due to the restrictions of its body.  I on the other hand, at the top of the food chain, can eat whatever I want. There’s no argument that meat, in all its forms, is far more delicious than any vegetable.  Humans have literally evolved to eat meat, from our teeth, to our bipedal movement, even our mental ability to make tools—everything has evolved in order to eat, catch, carry, and kill our prey, which we have done very successfully for thousands of years—it’s called survival of the fittest.

I know that vegetables are healthy for you, but that’s not to say meat isn’t, too. I am 21 years old and have barely eaten vegetables my entire life (other than the few my mom forced down my throat at a young age) and consider myself to be quite healthy; I’m around six foot three, weigh 175 pounds, and have had very few health problems in my young life.

If anything, I think it is healthier and more natural to eat meat, providing tons of essential nutrients that many vegetarians then have to take in pill form or some other weird supplement.  Along that same line, many of the vegetarians I know speak of all the unnatural hormones pumped into the animals and their cruel treatment. While I don’t support the nasty nature of the meat industry these days, vegetables are just as unnaturally filled with pesticides and other chemicals to make them big, colorful, and ready for supermarkets.  All I’m saying is that you can still be just as healthy, if not more, than any vegetarian by eating meat.

So why deprive yourself?

[galleria]

On to the moral subject, I too am an animal lover.  My dog McKinley is just about my best buddy on the planet, and seeing the beauty and elegance of a deer or elk in their natural environment evokes the same awe-inspiring feeling as it does for most people.

However, a cow, a pig, or a chicken is in its natural environment on a ranch. They are so f-ing stupid they have no idea what is going on. Mentally it’s basically equivalent to a living plant; as long as it has food and water they’re content. Let’s be honest: these farm animals were raised, and are kept alive, for one purpose—me to eat. Don’t tell me any of those animals could survive in the wild by themselves.  If they didn’t get eaten, killed if you will, by some other large predator before winter, they would surely not make it though the cold months of the year when food is sparse. They are completely dependent on us now after hundreds upon hundreds years of being domesticated. I remember in elementary school my teachers—and I would guess many vegetarians today—would never rag on the Native Americans for hunting buffalo, and would remind us that the Indians used every part of the buffalo, wasting nothing.  Well guess what, we use every part of the damn cow as well.

We are just smart enough to domesticate them, providing a constant food source.

If you are a vegetarian, that’s great, just please don’t preach, or be one of those pretentious vegetarians (like Waylon ~ed.).  I am an extremely idealistic person, but at some point you must be practical and realize that eating meat is, and has always been a vital part of human life.

John Spina currently attends the University of Vermont in Burlington where he will graduate with a double major in history and political science in 2011.  He writes sports for the school paper, the Vermont Cynic, as well as publishes weekly articles in the Mountain Ear, a local Nederland paper, and works as an Intern for the Elephant Journal. He loves spending time outdoors with his dog, McKinley, and being home in Colorado working for the summer. PS, sorry I forgot to put my bio in posting


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Comments

71 Responses to “Why: Practically all I Eat is Meat. ~ John Spina”

  1. Ryan Oelke says:

    lol, what's that I hear in the distance?? The rage of vegetarians coming to a comment near you. 😛

    While I am also annoyed with pretentious vegetarians – and I was a devout vegetarian for 5 years, motivations including animal rights – I think the argument for some people eating meat could more refined and elegant :) For example, metabolic typing shows reasons why some people should definitly eat meat, while others should avoid it. Bodies react differently. This is obvious amongst my friends, all very conscious living individuals. Some of us, no matter how well we eat as vegetarians, feel like shit without meat, and some us feel horrible if we eat a steak.

    And let's not forget The Dalai Lama gets down on meat;)

    Of course, we can still get better at raising farm animals, not just good for them but also good for our meat.

  2. Ryan Oelke says:

    actually, "self-righteous" is what I more commonly run into the pretentious vegetarians. Sorry. Words matter;)

  3. elaine says:

    I have been an "almost vegan" for over a year, and am pressured by other vegans to REALLY commit (in other words, to preach the gospel about stopping the enslavement of animals and to say that I am morally opposed to people eating other animals or riding horses or keeping pets or eating honey or…). Truth is, I'm not. Specifically, I see no moral problem with people raising animals for food and you are 100% right that domesticated animals have been raised for one very noble purpose: food. I no longer eat meat; I eat very very little dairy. This is my protest against factory farming which I do believe is incredibly cruel. As you absolutely correctly point out we ARE in the food chain and we ARE animals. To choose to be vegan is a CHOICE and a very unnatural one at that. It seems undeniable that people evolved to eat meat; it is no more immoral for a person to eat meat than for a lion to do so. That said, MOST people should eat less meat and more fruits and veggies for health and environmental reasons. I'm an almost vegan by choice and healthily so and TOTALLY in your corner!

  4. Ryan Oelke says:

    Yes, his claiming that he is healthy at 21 is not impressive, nor would it be if a vegetarian said the same at 21. Plenty of 21 years old, no matter their diet, can report good bills of health.

    That being said, there are plenty of folks at all ages, vegetarians and meat eaters, who are in excellent health.

  5. Joyous Living says:

    ahhh the hubris of youth. Been there done that. I find it funny that you ask us to leave you alone about your choice to eat meat you seem to want to convert others to your thought process….pot this is the kettle…
    In the end we have to make our own way…
    Ryan's comment is a better argument….
    You know when I think about it what I hear is a child stomping his foot and saying NO NO NO I'm right…you doth protest too much…if you are so right and feel so OK with your choice what does it matter if we get you or not? We have reasons for converting others to our philosophy and lifestyle — we believe in saving life and that stupid or not all animals have rights…
    PS — wow you are healthy at 21??? so impressive…UHMMM seriously dude — write this article when you are 40 or 50 and we'll talk.

    PPS if "stupid" were a criteria for why some animals are food…I have met some people that make it so I might be able to make an argument for cannibalism. If I were you I might let other better versed meat eaters argue your case.

  6. Joyous Living says:

    so why deprive yourself???

    I just re-read the post and read that line…WHY?
    because sometimes we put others in front of ourselves. sometimes what we want isn't what is best for the world. sometimes something that "feels" good isn't good. sometimes being disciplined is more important than pleasure.

    I don't consider it deprivation: karmic, clean, alive, natural…I can go pick a tomato from my garden — I don't have any cows to slaughter.

    and finally it is spiritual: it's like a really long lent where you clear your mind and body of things you "like" and instead turn to what you NEED.

    If you must eat meat then at least balance it out and eat a little less – your poor freakin' intenstines.

    and finally I would argue that when you have cleansed your palate that there are MANY vegetables that outshine flesh in the taste and nutrient department…hands down.

    Much love….I too once ate meat and couldn't ever imagine giving it up…be open to the possibilities and perhaps consider that youth is on your side or perhaps against you…it's hard to say :)

  7. christopher says:

    Not a vege either, but come on…

    "While I don’t support the nasty nature of the meat industry these days"

    Unless he is visiting and buying from his local ranchers who he has confirmed to be free from a whole range of "nastiness" that is common place among large and small ranchers alike, he is fooling himself in the same way he is about the ranchers using the whole cow.

  8. Nathan Gates says:

    I'm not sure why elephant saw this as fit to print. Oh, wait, a poorly thought out pro-meat treatise- a great way to drive traffic and make meat eaters look like buffoons. There is a great discussion to be had on this, and occasionally elephant hosts such discussions- but this was designed for sheer shock value. This isn't an argument so much as a ill-informed, half baked rant. Shame on the editors for allowing this to be posted. Not because of the opinion itself, but for the lack of quality argument on behalf of the opinion.

  9. Soy Sauce says:

    Pigs are actually super smart. Like fourth smartest animal smart.

  10. Carlos R
    I just wish Jack was older than 21; I hope his health in 19+ years still has him defending meat. — signed, not a vegetarian either :) (but I love them equally.)

    Shakti Dancer
    ya he is still young-give him a few more years and his "few" health issues with be big health issues.

    Ryan Oelke
    I can blame people for giving superficial responses to his article, given that it was superficially written. To be expected. That being said, there are plenty of people who have excellent bio health markers at all ages who eat meat, including myself. 21 is for sure not a good age from which to make health claims, I agree:) But that doesn't change the fact that you can be extremely healthy and eat meat, just as you can being vegetarian.

    He should eat more vegetables though;)

    Elaine R
    shared. I'm in your corner Jack!

    Meg M
    Paleo diet is optimal IMO. Meat is definitely a part of that. I was a vegetarian back in my 20s, and then I saw the error of my ways :)

    Ryan Oelke
    ‎"can't blame" not "can". oops.

    Carrisa C
    OMG, Meg… you and me both. I am actually working on an article about this exact same thing. I was a vegetarian too, but my hubby and child both have special dietary needs, so we've explored the Paleo diet and had tremendous success!! It's taken me a long time to get used to eating meat again tho. But we have a local farmer that provides us with good quality, humane raised meat. So at least I feel better about it.

    Deborah Wickham
    Indeed we did evolve to eat meat. However, there were not 6 billion and counting human beings on this planet. In the 'good old days' of the Paleolithic, we had to catch, kill and process every piece of meat that passed our lips. How many meat eaters today are prepared to do that? Anyone informed of environmental issues surely knows that our current… See More consumption of meat is not sustainable to the Earth's health, be it by methane production of grazing herds, or the over fishing of the seas. It's all very easy to feel smug about only buying organic, humanely reared produce, but by far the greatest percentage of meat purchased is not produced by these methods.

    Rod Meade Sperry
    i'm going with Mark Bittman ("Food Matters") all the way.
    49 minutes ago · LikeUnlike · · Flag

    Stephanie
    ‎> They are so f-ing stupid they have no idea what is going on.

    Seriously? If he really believes that, then he has a *lot* of living left to do before his words should ever be published. Is EJ having such a hard time finding contributing writers that they'd resort to this level of ignorance? It's really changed my idea of what I thought EJ was about. I don't take issue with an argument in favor of meat – but this one is based on arrogant ignorance. Very disappointing.

    Gina M
    aren't there any professional writers who need a gig that y'all can hire to do research and offer thoughts based on something other than opinion?

    elephantjournal.com
    Stephanie, I personally thought it a great reminder of the work we in the choir have to do vis a vis education. I actually thought it delightful to hear a rather "standard" set of arguments, thoughts, and lack-of-thoughts (assumptions) all together in one rather normal, sweet young man. These are the people we need to talk to, not judge on and get aggressive at.

  11. Gina, until we have a sustainable business model (when's the last time you or I paid to read something online?), the answer is no. http://www.elephantjournal.com/member will transform this site from opinion into journalism.

  12. Nathan Smith Nathan Smith says:

    Where's Jack?

    So, just to pile on a bit: the "top of the food chain" business is a bit overwrought. We're not really the top of the food chain, except in our ability to make tools, use language, build societies, and so on. As far as pure biology is concerned, we're omnivore primates. Mainly scavengers. Like vultures, crows, raccoons, or cockroaches. So, the fact that we are evolutionarily equipped to eat anything is not exactly a sign of our greatness.

    Instead, the real justification we have for being more noble than the beast is our capacity to use reason. But, then, what does reason tell us we ought to do vis-a-vis diet? That's the moral or ethical question. (Not how cute or cuddly or awe-inspiring we find barnyard animals.) BTW, I'm not 100% veggie and I don't think there is a moral argument for the superiority of vegetarianism. But it's important to be aware of the reasons we use to justify the things we do. If we don't do that, then we're not worthy of our own nobility.

    Thanks for putting this out there, Jack. It would be nice to hear back from you.

    Peace.

  13. Vanessa says:

    Thank you for publishing this. People are natural omnivores that thrive on meat and animal fat. Cattle grazing on pasture are far more sustainable than mono-cropped soy and wheat which has to be processed in a factory.

    See Weston A. Price and The Vegetarian Myth and Real Food.

  14. christopher says:

    I cry foul. Not to the meat eating, but the source of the article and Elephant.

    This is the only article on Elephant attached to Mr. Spina's name that does not have his credentials attached on the bottom, which is what caught my eye. Every single article on Elephant is followed with Author background.

    But more importantly, after reading a number of his other articles on here, the writing style and complete lack of research in this one isn't his voice, at all. All of Mr. Spina's articles are fully developed, well written points of view.

    I don't buy that it was written for anything other than a reaction.

  15. Megan Shannon says:

    This piece completely detracts from Elephant Journal's credibility as an outlet for thoughtful, well-reasoned, socially conscious submissions. If you want to present a counter-argument to vegetarianism, Spina, then do your research. I come to Elephant Journal to hear points of view that I can't hear in the conservative, insular state in which I live.

  16. Patricia Kelly says:

    The issue of vegetarianism is in part a cultural one. Would you say that peoples who are are from cold climates should be vegetarians too? All of the peoples evolved to live in cold climates had meat as a staple of their diet. And in many of those peoples, there was very little disease until processed foods and a modern diet was introduced. I did not understand why, no matter how hard I tried, I was not healthy on either a vegetarian or vegan diet – which I lived on the better part of 10 years.

    "Desaturase enzyme deficiencies are usually present in those people of Innuit, Scandinavian, Northern European, and sea coast ancestry. They lack the ability to convert alpha-linolenic acid into EPA and DHA, two omega-3 fatty acids intimately involved in the function of the immune and nervous systems. The reason for this is because these people's ancestors got an abundance of EPA and DHA from the large amounts of cold-water fish they ate. Over time, because of non-use, they lost the ability to manufacture the necessary enzymes to create EPA and DHA in their bodies. For these people, vegetarianism is simply not possible. They MUST get their EPA and DHA from food and EPA is only found in animal foods. DHA is present in some algae, but the amounts are much lower than in fish oils. (135)"
    http://www.westonaprice.org/mythstruths/mtvegetarianism….

  17. While kind of a half-way vegetarian (no beef or pork for many years, but have backpedaled on poutlry), I have very mixed feelings on the subject. On the one hand, I think being fully vegetarian, or even vegan, would be a good thing–not because I think there's anything inherently wrong with eating meat, but because the extent to which my fellow Americans eat meat is completely and utterly unsustainable, making both factory farming and deforestation (alas, "free range" is not something there's an unlimited amount of) inevitable. At the same time, I loath the self-righteousness of most vegetarians and vegans, who would accomplish a hell of a lot more, in my opinion, if they cared more about animals and "ahimsa" than their own inflated egos. As such, I tend to be offended by both sides in this kind of argument.

  18. candice says:

    As an "almost vegan" for 10 years, I couldn't care LESS about this guys point of view. What? You're into meat and don't eat vegetables? You're healthy at 21? Sorry. Mind not blown. Yep some people are going to eat meat. Yep some people will choose not to. Nonetheless, I wish meaties could come up with something better than "it tastes good." There's a whole list of things you can eat that are bad for you and "taste good." It sounds so……neanderthalic. Not you personally, oh article writer, but the greater sentiment in general.

    At least this article produced a litanny of comments that were well worth the read!

  19. lisa says:

    My problem with this immature post is the total lack of education and information regarding human evolution. To think that the ONLY reason humans are bipedal is to eat meat is pretty far fetched. I do realize that historically humans would hunt and/or scavange. But, the WERE NOT eating meat every day. They were probably lucky to get meat a few times per month. For you to be gluttonous over your meat choices on a daily basis and attempt to attribute that to natural selection certainly shows your age… and talk about "dumb"!! AHHHHHeM! There might be someone else a little dumb in this chat room. Humans are frugivorous you ninny. Fruits, vegetables, nuts and SOMETIMES meat. Carnivorous have very sharp teeth made for ripping meat apart with their jaws. Not humans. Sounds like you need to take an anthropolgy class or two before you write your next article. Good luck staying healthy little one. This post is laughable. p.s. i eat meat a couple times per month, consciouslly and feel that my body does need a little here and there. Certainly not every day.

  20. Ryan Oelke says:

    Waylon, brother, I love you and want you to succeed at all you do, and EJ has SO much potential. I'm not in the least charged by this post emotionally, AND I think there is objective helpful feedback you and the crew need to hear and consider, not simply right it off, though I understand completely that some folks have not given this feedback in the cleanest manner, so that makes it a little harder to read.

    1. What are your standards right now? Not what will they be if you had money, but what are they. Clearly communicate that to your audience. And this will not be done well in a simple reply in a comment. You need something more substantial. If when you do this, it shows that this post meets those standards, then great. If it does not, you need to make changes. And even if it does and a lot of your audience turns away, you should consider that in your current strategy. Simply telling them/us to accept it won't fly.

    2. You don't need money to have editorial standards. I agree that a sustainable model is crucial and you should totally ask for the support of your audience. BUT, you have an intimate relationship with them and it behooves you to listen to what they expect from you right NOW lest you lose them. While I'm no longer an official member of Buddhist Geeks, they do NOT pay anyone to write, yet they have high quality articles with clear standards and constant submissions. You do need money to run your business, but to say you won't have editorial standards until you have money is a sure way to not get the money you need. If people don't like what they are reading they won't pay you on the hypothetical possibility that you'll improve your standards later. Everything you do must be good now and if you can't do something good, don't do it until you can.

    Believe me, you know that I understand more than most folks here what it takes to build a business and to struggle with the pains of sustaining yourself. I know this emotionally to my core. I say all this because I think you can totally succeed, but there are real points of consideration for you to ponder here.

    Again, if this post 100% meets your site's standards and vision both now and for the future, then totally ignore my comments:) However, my sense is that is not 100% the case based on the feedback of others and the comments coming from EJ, which I assume are yours mainly, which indicate that you yourself would like different standards. My main point more than anything is just to open the door to you about how to do what you're doing, that it's not a simple open/close discussion. The specifics that I shared can be tossed to the side in the end, though I think they are worth considering.

    So, take this for what you want. Lots of love to you and the EJ crew.

  21. terry says:

    Here's a good video on meat: http://meat.org

  22. DJW says:

    As a UVM Political Science alum, I would like to distance myself as far as possible from both John's views and his ridiculous lack of ability to reason. Do yourself a favor and take Prof Wertheimer's class on Public Policy and Ethics, learn to form a coherent argument and rewrite this piece. A pro-meat eating article would be welcome on this forum, I think, if it were done in a thoughtful way.

  23. Daniel says:

    Wow! A lot of emotion coming out here. Also, a lot of shouting down. Perhaps talking about meat here is akin to yelling fire in a theater. Maybe it was just wrong. I am a sometimes reader of Elephant having seen some interesting articles but I get tired of the same refrains.

    The Elephant, what is it. A religious site, a yoga site, a go along to get along site. Heck, we have those in all flavors. Why not one more just for this particular point of view. We can all get together and agree to agree on everything. That does not do much to inspire outsiders to look inside. From my vantage point Elephant sometimes looks like a scrape-book collection gathered hither and fro. A little Daily Report, a column from Huffington Post, some carping on commercialism, denial of our sexual nature and some talk of the ephemeral plane.

    Is that change? Well, good luck Waylon. Our world needs to change and change is difficult. It usually ends up in compromise that leaves everybody equally upset.

    PS: what does this comment have to do with eating meat? Nothing.

  24. Lindsey says:

    Meat doesn't taste as good as saving the environment feels. :)

  25. Dylan says:

    While different points of view should be welcomed to important discussions such as these, I am disappointed with the quality of this argument. I am a vegetarian and don't disagree that it is natural to eat meat, but the problem is, I am sure everyone here is aware, sustainability. Corporate agriculture (whether mono-culture potato fields or pig farms with nearly one million sows) is not natural. What makes humans unique (or what should) is our ability to reason and from this our ability to make responsible decisions that effect not only us individually, but the planet as a whole. Unless you are certain that the beef on your plate came from a nearby ranch that raises animals humanely, or that tofu came from soybeans other than Roundup Ready strains, you probably should not have it there. That we are at the (near) top of the food chain should have much less an impact on our decisions of what to ingest than what the overall impact on the planet will be as a result of these decisions. The inadequacy of this pseudo-argument can be summed up with the statement: "Mentally it’s basically equivalent to a living plant…" As we all know, plants ARE living.

  26. […] by the Elephant Journal started a somewhat of a controversy on facebook that even I had to respond. Why: Practically all I Eat is Meat. ~ John Spina {via Elephant […]

  27. Kara N says:

    Except that the human body is actually NOT well suited for eating much meat. Also, the fact that you CAN do something doesn't mean you SHOULD do it. This is not a highly cognitive statement. Do you also rape, because it makes so much biological sense and you CAN do it?

    You should also probably go back and reread Darwin. HTH.

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