Vegetarianism is a practice that vegetarians follow, which includes a diet of vegetables, fruits and sometimes selected animal products such as cheese or milk. This is a belief that vegetarians follow with respect to different origins. There are vegetarians all around the world, they don’t share the same religion but their belief stays the same. Some people prefer to be a vegetarian by choice while others have no other choice because their religion forces them to be one.
Everything in the world has advantages and disadvantages, vegetarianism is no exception. Since I am an omnivore, I strongly believe that one should include plants and animals in his diet. My personal reasons consist of the Islamic perspective along with the fact that I have been used to it since childhood. On the other hand, I will be stating arguments against my stand and then I shall provide points that will refute them, too. The supporters of vegetarianism defend their views by a variety of arguments.
One argument is concerning the life-span of a vegetarian. According to Dywer, the life-span of a vegetarian compared to a non-vegetarian is either the same or even a bit higher. This has been concluded after having experimented for it.
Another argument states that a strict vegetarian diet helps people from being away from various diseases. Moreover, it states that this happens due to having concentration of ingredients that help one to reduce the risk of such diseases. These ingredients include low saturated fat and hence, they have low cholesterol. In addition to this, research has showed that animal products have high concentrations of the above mentioned i.e. high cholesterol, which leads to various diseases ranging from heartburns to major heart diseases.
A study of the environment states that vegetarianism contributes positively towards the environment. A contrast has been made between animals and plants by saying that farming animals requires a larger area of land whereas growing crops needs to have a comparatively smaller piece of land. Moreover, the same study states that having vegetables is more or less the same amount of calories.
Vegetarianism also is a positive belief in terms of being economical. This is based on the fact that the production of meat is comparatively more expensive and that is the reason why it is sold for a higher price than vegetables.
From the health point of view it is said that vegetables are far much better than animals. This is due to the mere reason that when animals are slaughtered they release chemicals which are later consumed by meat-eaters. This is a cause of concern for all meat-eaters because this is also harmful for their health. On the contrary, consuming plants does not harm the environment and also the consumers.
Since the availability of food from non-living things is highly limited, it is justified for the human beings to get sustenance for their survival from living things including animals and plants. Humans beings, being superior to all the other creations on this earth, have been permitted by God to consume food from living sources. This being an injunction of God, there is no harm in killing animals and plants for food both of which are lower creations of God as compared to humans. The arguments against vegetarianism can be classified into three different groups such as nutrition, environmental and ethical.
Meat contains fat and proteins which are very important for the human body, especially focusing on young children. Moreover, plants consist of carbohydrates that are a cause of diabetes if consumed in excess. If a person strictly follows a vegetarian diet he/she will consume it in excess and undesirably face the serious consequences.
John Vanderveen, the director of the FDA’s office of plant, dairy food and beverages says that “the more you restrict your diet, the more difficult it is to get the nutrients you need”. Vegetarians who exclude all dairy and animal flesh products face the greatest nutritional risks, because some essential nutrients exist only in animal products.
Vegetarians have been noticed to eat more than meat-eaters and this is mainly because of the fact that meat-eaters consume enough food so that they survive through till the other meal. On the other hand, vegetarian food does not suffice the human body and that is why it causes disorders and makes vegetarians eat twice as much as meat-eaters. In extreme cases it also is a cause of obesity. In terms of being economical because vegetarians consume more than meat-eaters they tend to grow more crops and spend extra harvesting them and then eating them.
Consuming meat helps in maintaining the environmental balance. This is because if the consumption of meat stops then cattle will increase and there will be an imbalance between the supply and demand of the animals such as cows and sheep, etc. Moreover, plants are the main supply for the oxygen that is used by human beings and if they are used up completely or even in excess it can cause a shortage for humans, which will definitely be very harmful for surviving.
With all due respect to Animal Rights, they consider animals to have equal rights as humans and though this is accepted by humans, animals are still seen feasting on other animals so this is a way of justifying why humans slaughter animals for their source of food. Moreover, since vegetarians fight for the fact that living things should not be killed and made a source for food it can also be argued plants are also a living creation of God so why is it fair to kill them and unfair to kill animals.
In the religious perspective, keeping Islam in view, it is allowed to eat animals along with plants. Moreover, it is mentioned in the Qur’an that there are various things that nature has provided human beings with and that everything is allowed to and should be explored and tried. Certain animals are prohibited in Islam, which have their own reasons too. The Qur’an has usually been read as allowing the eating of meat, as in verse 5:1 which reads,
“O you who have attained to faith! Be true to your convenants! Lawful to you is [the flesh of] every beast that feeds on plants, save what is mentioned to you [hereinafter]: but you are not allowed to hunt while you are in a state of pilgrimage. Behold, God ordains in accordance with his will.”
Humans are meant to eat meat, it is part of them and this is backed by the fact that their jaw motion is created by God in such a way. The jaw motion of a carnivore is up and down while the jaw motion of an herbivore is sideways. This explains the fact why majority of the population in the world prefers eating meat. Moreover, this cannot be the only reason for people to choose meat over vegetables.
In our ecosystem the term food chain refers to the transfer of matter and energy from a weaker organism to a stronger organism in the form of food. So, in the same way human consume certain animals for their survival and vegetarianism goes against this concept and the practice of vegetarianism on a mass scale would disrupt this natural process.
Traditionally, it was argued by vegetarians that killing an animal for food is a greater sin than killing plants. According to them, the animals are higher species than plants and killing them is nothing but cruelty. But this argument can be refuted because plants themselves are living things having few senses like sense of touch and responds to stimuli. If killing animals is cruel than killing plants should also be considered as cruel as both are living things. In 1973, Dorothy Retallack’s tried experimenting with different types of music. She played rock to one group of plants and, soothing music to another. The group that heard rock turned out to be sickly and small whereas the other group grew large and healthy. What’s more surprising is that the group of plants listening to the soothing music grew bending towards the radio just as they bend towards the sunlight.
In the final analysis, it can be easily concluded that meat eating is much superior to vegetable food. It gives us all the necessary nutrients for our growth and sustenance. Vegetarianism is a personal decision of an individual who sometimes escape from this routine by eating fish and chicken.