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

Via elephant journal
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?


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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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. Wow. This isn't shock value–this is a fair representation of most of America. I think 6% of Americans don't eat meat? I thought it was a good, helpful example for we on the righteous side of this debate to remember that we're not talking to folks who think much about it, or know why they should care. And they aren't bad people. Jack is a sweet guy. We're not going to change his habits, or anyone like him, by being agro.

  11. 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

    ‎> 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?

    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.

  12. 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.

  13. Good on you. Great point.

  14. Let's try and keep things kind, btw. We're really a forum for respectful, thoughtful comments…even if you're disagreeing, which we more than welcome.

  15. I agree, personally. If Jack can check out the factory farm industry personally, and avoid burgers etc from such places in restaurants, and only buy more humanely raised meat from local farmers who he knows are kind and responsible people, that would be a great first step.

  16. Dalai Lama is veggie, now, despite his cultural heritage…not sure if that's what you're saying.

  17. Ryan Oelke says:

    when did he flip back? He went veggie, then went to eating meat. So he's back to veggie? Hard to keep up with the DL's diet:P

    Nonetheless, I could find you a long list of respected, compassionate spiritual teachers who eat meat. Just wanted to make the quick point because it always comes up in these debates:P

  18. Ryan Oelke says:

    actually, he does eat meat as is stated on HHDL official website http://www.dalailama.com/biography/questions-and-

    He's a part time veggie;)

  19. Nathan says:

    Look. My quibble is not with Jack. I don't judge the moral righteousness of a person based on their consumption habits. I try to not judge the moral righteousness of others, period. The question is: what does this unresearched, uneducated rant contribute to the readers of the Elephant community? Is it really providing a valuable perspective, one that we may have never heard before? See, the argument posted here is the same one held and espoused by innumerable friends, relatives and co-workers of mine. If this opinion is new to some, then Boulder is wedged far more in a bubble than I thought.

    There is a vigorous debate to be had over the ethics of eating and consuming all manner of things. It has gotten a lot more interesting and nuanced in recent years, thanks to the "good meat" movement, for lack of a better term. Posting this merely inflames warriors on both sides. I am not surprised that it was posted, though, as it seems like intentionally provocative posts on animal consumption always generate a lot of interest.

    So, I am saying that I think this post is about attention, not dialog, and it is condescending to presume that people who think deeply on this issue aren't confronted with similarly ignorant arguments as this all the time. I don't read Elephant to be reminded of what is as obvious as the air.

  20. Padma Kadag says:

    Who are you to point out moral inconsistencies?

  21. Nathan Smith says:

    Elephant isn't a peer reviewed journal. It's just a blog. Traffic and conversation are the stuff blogs are made of.

  22. Padma Kadag says:

    Now Now be easy on the Lad!!!

  23. Padma Kadag says:

    Looking down your righteous noses are you???

  24. 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.


  25. Nathan says:

    So, I wondered if I was harsh, so I went back and re-read the post. Nope.

    I am less irritated by the post itself than the introduction by the editor. Gimme a break.

    Factually untrue, poorly argued garbage. Period. I ain't gonna sugar coat it.

    I'm not even a vegetarian, btw.

  26. Nathan says:

    Yes, but for a site that bills itself as a "mindful" blog- this sure seemed like a post to inflame decidedly unenlightened commentary.

  27. Padma Kadag says:


  28. elephantjournal says:

    Not sure what your complaint is against me, the editor, but thanks for talking. I basically did think this was a great out of the bubble–Boulder, elephant, vegan–pov from a good guy. That's it. It's good for us to remember that 96% of Americans or whatev don't agree with our righteous point of view.

    Not sure why it pains you so much to present an honestly, commonly held point of view that doesn't agree with our choir. Our mission is not, as Nate says, to garner traffic and comments, merely, although those are great ways of measuring traction with readers, of course. Our mission is to bring together different points of view, ignorance, right, wrong…and hopefully all wake up a bit together, or at least think more deeply about our own often unquestioned points of view.

    If I'm still missing something, and I'm sure you'll think I am, you are genuinely, seriously invited to write something, we'll post it to this forum, say whatever you like, it can be researched and/or opinion. If you think we're missing some insight, add it to this forum.

  29. Padma Kadag says:

    Nathan …I misplaced my comment…was not commenting on you….further on down the line

  30. Nathan says:

    OK. The fundamental problem is that this piece was written to inflame. It was not written from an open, let's discuss, type of stance. It ended with a warning- essentially- I'm not open to discussion, if you want to discuss it, I'll consider you pretentious. I mean, it contained this:

    "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. "

    I dunno, I thought a plant was alive. I also know that a pig is measurably more intelligent than the writer's beloved dog.

    My point is, when you allow this kind of argument to take up space on your site, don't expect it to be received with kid gloves. That's all. I love to talk about this stuff- with lots of people, often ones with vastly different opinions than my own. But this piece wasn't written for discussion, it was written to inflame. If it was written for discussion, the writer might have showed up in the comments. He didn't.

    I appreciate your responses, but I maintain that this post adds no value to the readers.

  31. 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.

  32. 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.

  33. 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.

  34. 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)"

  35. 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.

  36. And yet, while some of this piece is certainly not very well-thought out, and I disagree with almost all of it, on the offense-o-meter, it's nothing compared to that unbearable "yoga teachers are vegetarians" thing Elephant published yesterday–the kind of artical guaranteed to make vegetarians puff up like blowfish (as a number did in comments on Facebook–while hilariously claiming not to be judgmental) while making everybody else think "if that's what vegetarians are like, I'll have another piece of chicken, please…" (that's: vegetarian ego 1, animals 0) .

    (And by the way, I just know that the reason other people are able to leave long comments at Elephant and I have to break mine up in pieces like this is that Waylon's trying to get back at me for pwning him on the PETA issue)
    (Just kidding…)

  37. 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!

  38. You are right, self-righteous is a much better word. Sorry if I offended you.

  39. Ryan Oelke says:

    Oh no offense:) I used it to in my comment, then realized I was thinking the other:P

  40. Ryan Oelke says:

    Yeah, I wanted to bring up this point, which seems kind of obvious once you think about it – thousands of years of ancestry at a geographical location, etc. 50% of my genes are Scandinavian and Norther European, so as one important factor, it's no surprise I do much, much better with meat in my diet.

  41. wow the PPS was a little ridiculous even by my standards. If you think any animals have the rational and mental capacity for retro or introspective thought like any human I will be shocked. I truly believe that they do not understand their situation nor their surroundings. Otherwise, I am not demanding that I am right, I fully support people being vegetarians if that is what they want. What I was trying to say is that eating meat has been apart of the human experience basically forever, why do vegetarians these days feel the need to be so active in condemning meat and demanding that their decision is so morally correct.

  42. elephantjournal says:

    I do. While i do eat the occasional steak or hamburger at a restaurant, I try to buy as much of my eat from local ranchers near my house in Steamboat Colorado. I have seen the horrors of the American meat industry and it is quite disturbing. That being said, you can not expect the 300 plus million people in America to be able to afford meat like that or go completely vegetarian, its just not realistic. I think we can absolutely make steps towards making the industry more humane, but considering the influence the industry hold in our country it will be incredibly difficult and "self-righteous" vegetarians need stop trying to force their views upon the rest of the public eating meat when the problem is big business. PS this is John Spina

  43. I am in the comments and I am absolutely open for discussion. I am a very opinionated person who is not afraid to shout that opinion. I knew posting this would get people riled up, especially on EJ, but I believe the point of journalism and especially blogging is the dissemination of ideas, not the reaffirmation of our already firmly established views. The point of posting this on a site like EJ was to show that most people around the world do eat meat and are very put off by vegetarians trying to change our own views. The problem with the meat industry is not in people eating it but in the way animals are treated in large industrial meat factories. Being a vegetarian does not change that at all, and if you were really concerned get out there and protest, send emails to companies, send letters to congressmen. Don't try to change the individual meat eater

  44. Megan, speaking for myself, I don't think that was Jack's point, or our point in publishing. Our point, again, was simply that Jack is pretty well representative of the 96% or whatever of the US that is not vegetarian. Folks who eat meat don't feel a need, necessarily, to research their reasons for eating meat.

    And that, as vegetarians or vegans, is what we need to talk to. We don't need Jack to "know what he's talking about." We need to know who we're talking about. He was willing to be open and straightforward, unapologetic in this forum as he in in daily life. Now it's our task to find ways to educate him and others, if so inspired, in a fun way that they'll want to pay attention to.

  45. No idea on the comment length issue, it's an Intense Debate thing…they make the rules. (Even though I know you're kidding)

  46. Great point. We never ever get harshed on for publishing vegan, vegetarian articles…even ones that are equally un-researched or righteous, opinion-based.

  47. Brilliant: our first conspiracy theory on elephant. Many of his articles on ele haven't been edited. This was was, but only for grammer and spelling, not for content. AT ALL.

  48. Thanks for expressing your irritation.

  49. That's Jack, Now. Jack, sign off for yourself with your name.