Are Humans Meant to Eat Meat? A Rant

Are Humans Meant to Eat Meat - picture of beef kabobs with vegetables on grill

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Ahhhhh…..the life of a vegetarian.  It’s funny.  No one cares what you eat until you become a vegetarian.

Then, all of a sudden, perfect strangers become concerned.  They ask questions like “are you getting enough iron?”  Or, “are you afraid of getting sick?”  Or they’ll share some crazy story about someone they knew who supposedly died of vegetarianism.

But, my all-time favorite response is this:

“Aren’t humans supposed to eat meat?”

And I almost always respond with this:

“Does it really matter?”

That’s Not the Point

The point isn’t whether or not humans are supposed to eat meat.  The point is whether or not we should.  And, beyond that, the point is whether animals should be forced to endure a life of slavery and suffering because humans happen to enjoy disgusting concoctions like McRibs and Tater Tot Casserole.

I know, I know.  Cheeseburgers are yummy.  So is Pork BBQ.  And crab legs.  But, you know what’s not yummy?  This:

Male chickens serve little purpose in the world of factory farming.  They don’t lay eggs and their breasts don’t grow big enough to make juicy chicken patties at Wendy’s.  The solution: throw them away or grind them up alive.  As many as 40 million chicks per year lose their short lives this way.

According to scientific research, pigs are smarter than dogs, and about as intelligent as a three-year-old child.  Yet they are forced into miserable pig jail for their entire lives, often unable to move or turn around. They’re also killed in some of the least humane ways possible.  Would you let this happen to your three-year-old?  Or, even your dog?


You can also read more about the horrors of factory farming in this Rolling Stones article:

Animal Cruelty is the Price We Pay for Cheap Meat

It Gets Worse

Unfortunately, big agriculture has recently made a push for new “Ag-gag” laws which would criminalize whistle-blowing on factory farms.  So basically, they want to make reporting illegal activity……illegal.  They want to hide the truth.  They don’t want you to know or comprehend what you’re eating.  Read more about that here:

Anti-Whistle Blower Bills

Stunning Ag-gag Bill News

Giving the Middle Finger to Animal Cruelty

Don’t even get me started about cows.  And milk.  And circus animals.  And people who breed puppies in their homes.  And fur.  All kinds of horrific things happen to animals around the globe and there’s very little that we can do about it.  But, the one thing we can do is vote with our dollars.  We don’t have to support industries that we despise.

So, you see, this isn’t about not eating meat.  It’s about giving animals the respect they deserve.  It’s about putting an end to barbaric practices that the general public would not tolerate if only they were made aware.

What Can You Do?

  • Stop eating meat: Factory farming only exists because we fund it through our voracious appetite for animals.  Stop buying it.
  • Implement meat-free days: If you don’t want to stop eating meat altogether, even cutting down helps.  The less meat we buy, the fewer animals are forced to endure a miserable and agonizing life and death.
  • Buy meat from local sources: Small, local farms raise often raise animals in a respectable way…where they see sunlight, feel the gentle breeze, and eat grass.  Supporting local meat producers takes the money directly from the hands of factory farms…and puts it back into your local community.

Are humans supposed to eat meat?

This question is just another bullshit explanation for humanity to do whatever it wants to do.  Surprise!

Sure, we may be built to eat meat, but that doesn’t mean that we should torture animals. 

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  1. Holly,
    I am one of those that gets excited when the McRib is available. I just don’t wanna know what it is made of and I’m all good

    1. @Charles – Having had the same attitude as your good self for (at least) the last 8 years I’ve decided that putting your head in the sand and pretending you don’t know is not really the best way to go about living your life.

      Holly – great article, it in part inspired me to write the post that should be linked to underneath. So thanks!

  2. Well said! Poor treatment of animals is why I became vegetarian but most people I talk to don’t get it.

    1. The truth is coming out more and more as people get interested in where their food is coming from.

  3. We aren’t vegetarians, but we have started bringing more vegetarian soups and dishes into our repertoire of items we cook at home. Those vegetarian dishes usually are a lot healthier than the meat-containing ones that we regularly make.

    1. Nice! That’s how we started as well. Most of my favorite soups just happen to be vegetarian anyway.

  4. Ben @ The Wealth Gospel says:

    Ignorance is bliss, right? I’ll admit that I try not to think about how my meat got to me, but I do respect the reasons for your choice not to eat meat. I also respect that you don’t damn the rest of us all to hell 😉

  5. I think about these things often. We don’t eat a lot of meat ( I could easily become vegetarian, husband not so much) but I do buy from a local butcher only. I’d say we eat meat 4/7 days. Have you read the book Fast Food Nation?

    1. Hmmmm…..not sure if I’ve read that one. I’ll check it out!

  6. I think you are 100% spot on that most of the general public would be outraged to hear how poorly most animals are treated. However, a lot of the time the way the message is delivered turns off most of the public because if comes accross as scolding and talking down to them. Most people don’t like that and just tune out. I think that is where organizations like PETA really miss the boat. They come off as too militant for the average joe. Couple that with keeping costs low and people with lower incomes just don’t care because they are too worried about just getting food on the table and they want their meat.

    Personally I have worked my way to eating mostly grass-fed and free-range animals if I can get them. I do my best to get it local or worst case scenario from a farm that has a good track record. The food just tastes better and hell it even looks better before you cook it.

    1. That’s great!

      I think you’re right about cheap food…but that’s the problem. The way they keep prices down is to confine animals to tiny spaces and mistreat them. Then they can sell them on the dollar menu. But people are struggling financially can’t necessarily worry about animal cruelty because they have to eat.

    2. I think you’re right, and I also try to eat grass fed, free range stuff and never pork, but I just bought some bacon from (supposively) “humanely raised” pigs and I’m feeling some guilt. Gosh Holly!!

      Seriously though, I have thought about going the vegetarian. I lost a lot of weight last year but it was because my doctor put me on a 70 gram a day protein diet. It would be hard to get that kind of protein without any meat at all without lots of gross shakes. An ex boyfriend recently posted a picture of a plate of dog meat that was being served at a party he attended in Korea and I was really disturbed (yes, he had some because he “didn’t want to offend the hosts). Really though, there’s no difference between eating a pig and a dog. Why is the dog worthy of saving but nothing else is? It’s something I have to weigh out.

      Also, I appreciate your honesty in the post. I was wondering why you were heading down the veganism path. 🙂

      1. Yeah, I just do not want to fund animal cruelty with my dollars.
        I couldn’t eat a dog either! It makes me so sad =(

  7. I certainly respect your (or anyone’s) decision to be vegetarian – that’s a personal decision as are the reasons you decide to go that route. I don’t condone animal cruelty, but if I were to want to be active in the fight against it I would chose a different path such as contacting congresspeople to initiate and vote for legislation, protest against the biggest offenders, etc. Two different paths, similar beliefs though.

    1. There are many ways to fight against it something you think is wrong. Writing your congressman/congresswoman, signing petitions, etc. is just one of them.
      Other things work as well. For instance, yesterday I wrote to thank several food companies who had severed their relationships with farms that were accused of animal cruelty.
      I also feel comfortable writing whatever I want here…because I can’t get fired. I just assume that people won’t read it if they’re not interested.

  8. I have fallen on each side of the fence on this. I’ve learned a lot from listening to average joe’s that happen to hunt and hunting in a not kill-them-all way is actually good for animal population control and for maintaining species.

    This could be an endless argument for or against. I’m not here to do that. I’m here to just state that there are humane, necessary ways of eating meat that are often overlooked.

    I have gone vegetarian for many of the same principles multiple periods of my life so I support your path even though I don’t follow it today.

    The Warrior

    1. I’m actually not super against hunting wild animals whose populations have grown out of control. We have a lot of deer here and it is my understanding that they starve when the population isn’t thinned out. Also, they do get to live a free and natural life, not in a cage when they are forced fed hormones and all kinds of stuff.

  9. I definitely respect your opinion to be vegetarian Holly, or anyone else’s really. I like eating meat like many, but it does start to concern me quite a bit to see things like trying to outlaw reporting on illegal activity – that’s just nuts. Not only are many of those instances involving cruelty, but why on earth wouldn’t we want to know what we’re putting in our bodies? We’ve moved to buying our beef locally from someone we trust and are looking to do the same for our chicken. That said, you’re spot one about voting with our dollars.

    1. That’s the scariest thing! They want to make it illegal to report animal abuse, which basically strips factory farm animals of the very few protections that they have. It’s unbelievable!

  10. I’m with John on this one. I have no interest in ever giving up eating meat (personal choice just like being vegetarian/ vegan) but I certainly don’t live in ignorance. I try to buy the best quality I can afford and yes — I’d love more education and for laws to change in how animals are handled.

    I will say, I’m incredibly relieved to finally hear about someone doing it for more moral reasons and not to “drop a few pounds.” The vegan diet (to slim down) fad drives me absolutely bonkers.

    1. Yeah, I probably won’t ever be a thin-as-a-rail vegan. I probably eat too many carbs.

  11. We mostly eat local meat, our own chickens, lambs and ducks, and sometimes we buy a whole pig in the village. Only beef comes from an outside farm.
    I like meat less and less and sometimes don’t eat it for weeks, then I feel like it is much harder for the body to process. But I like a little meat for seasoning, not as the center of the meal.

  12. I think most people don’t want to know where the meat came from and how the animals were treated. I know there’s a documentary on Netflix but I’ve avoided watching it. However, I have cut down on eating meat for health reasons. Saw this documentary called Forks over Knives which talks about a healthier lifestyle with no or less meat. One thing that came up that I found interesting was…Are we meant to drink cow’s milk…that’s meant for a baby calf right?

    1. The movie is Vegucated and its the reason we stopped eating meat last year. Watch it!

      As far as cow’s milk goes, I don’t know. It seems weird to me. We drink almost milk but I do buy cow’s milk for my kids. It does seem unnatural.

  13. I have really been thinking about not eating meat anymore. I don’t eat a lot of meat to begin with because of exactly what’s in this post. I do want to make the full switch though.

    1. Watch Vegucated on Netflix, Michelle. That will fix it for you.

  14. This year we have switched to buying local meats from an organic farm that even filters the iron from the water for the cows! I feel blessed and hope to never have to buy meat from a large chain grocery store again! I cannot stand how animals are treated. Great post.

  15. Hi Holly. I appreciate you sharing your vegetarianism here. I can imagine those questions being completely aggravating and it’s like that with so many topics – religious beliefs, politics, etc. We eat very little meat – at most twice per week. I’m as close as you can get without going all the way (so what’s stopping me, right?).

    I am affected by the cruelty to animals, and I think that pairing that with the health benefits of vegetarianism – I am not long for the meat-eating world.

    1. I think eating less meat is wonderful! That’s how we started too. I didn’t eat red meat for a while before we quit eating meat altogether.

  16. I respect anyone’s decision to become vegetarian/vegan. As long as you don’t throw your views down someone’s throat, which you are not doing here. I don’t understand why some people think they have a right to tell you what you need to eat.

    I like meat and I am not going to change that. My wife and I do only eat one meat meal per week. She was a vegetarian for some time, but then started eating meat again because she liked it and we didn’t eat it for every meal.

    1. I don’t think people will ever quit eating meat. But animals need protection so that they’re not treated inhumanely. Meat may cost a little more that way but I think it is the right thing to do.

  17. We probably won’t see eye to eye on this issue but I applaud you for speaking your case boldly.

    1. So, what exactly if your argument FOR animal cruelty?

      1. Hey now! You opened the post noting that you didn’t want people being concerned with what you ate. Why don’t I get the same treatment?

          1. No worries. I try to avoid these debates — no way we’ll see eye to eye on eating meat. But I can respect and appreciate the view you have.

          2. Yeah, yeah.

            Well, for the record, I am not really anti-meat. I am just anti-torture. I think most people can sympathize with that.

  18. Torturing animals is no bueno, but eating them…That is a different story. I love me some chicken and turkey. I could do without the other meats, but these two are my go-to staple foods.

    1. Unfortunately they are treated like crap on factory farms! Look for free range! =)

  19. Thank you for posting this Holly. I think people would feel differently about eating meat if they watched a few food documentaries. I’ve been a vegetarian for two years and I’m healthier than 99% of the people I know.

  20. I freakin’ LOVE this post Holly. It’s so true that no one gives a flip about your diet until you choose to make a change like becoming a vegetarian. No one cared that in high school I was so picky I only ate Spaghettios and Hot Pockets (sadly, that is a true story..) but when I decided to improve my diet and get healthier in college, which included a switch to vegetarianism, suddenly the world was concerned that I could never get enough protein. I think people who say that are just woefully ignorant when it comes to nutrition. I don’t know whether or not we’re supposed to eat meat, but I do know that I choose not to because I don’t want to be part of the agribusiness system that produces so much meat for human consumption that cows emit more CO2 gases than cars (and lots of other horrible stuff that I won’t get into in your comments section 😛 ) Long story short – THANKS for an awesome post.

    1. Yes, exactly. I could eat McDonald’s 5 days a week and no one would be concerned. But, stop eating meat and everyone you know turns into a certified nutrition specialist.

    2. I’ve been a vegetarian since high school, and I can’t remember anyone concerning themselves with my nutritional needs. Maybe butting one’s nose where it doesn’t belong is more of a mid-western trait?

      1. Maybe! We’re in the land of meat and potatoes over here!

  21. Holly,

    I’m right there with you. My wife and I are vegetarian (except for about 10 days a year). It’s not that we don’t love meat- we do. It just that, well, animals are our friends, and we don’t eat our friends. We’re gluten free now, too, and it makes it even harder. But, in addition to sparing all those lives, vegetarianism also help reduce our carbon impact, which we’re big into. So many people like sausage, but don’t like to see how it’s made, because they know they wouldn’t eat it. Meat is also expensive! Thanks for posting this :).

    1. Ohhh….being gluten free would be hard. What pushed you guys to do that? Are you intolerant?

      1. My wife had been reading a lot about it, and a lot of people on her side of the family have celiac’s, so this was something that had been recommended to her for a while… It was just a struggle to kick all of those tasty breads and pastas out of the diet. As for me, she is the chef in the house, so usually whatever she cooks, I will eat.

  22. Michelle S says:

    Well, what about milk products? Aren’t cows (and their young) subject to equally inhumane conditions? To end all cruelty, shouldn’t vegan be the way to go?

    Trust me, I despise animal cruelty, and dedicate much of my life to rescue, so I am definitely in agreement with you.

    While I’m not (yet) vegan or vegetarian, I would love to head in that direction, yet avoid all of the crap that is often in vegan food. You know, use whole foods only.

    Great post!

    1. I’m with you, Michelle!

      We’ve been vegetarian since last year and are going vegan Jan. 1st. The only reason we’re waiting until then is because we’re going on a short Christmas vacation with Greg’s parents Dec. 27-29 and I doubt we will have access to anything other than restaurant food.

      Anyway, you should watch Vegucated on Netflix! You will never eat meat again.

  23. I’m not totally sure what vegan is, but I assume if no animal products that means no fish or dairy as well. Is that right….just wondering if you eat cheese? I also had to chuckle about a report I saw a few weeks back where some person was also against eating plants unless we asked their {the plants} permission to consume them. I bet that person is pretty hungry by now waiting for the response. Just trying to bring a little humor to a subject that tends to get a lot of people all riled up. 🙂

    1. Yes, Kathy. Veganism means no animal products at all. We have been vegetarian since last year and are stopping al animal products in a few weeks (not the kids, just us).
      Yeah, I don’t feel that I need to ask a plant’s permission to eat them….that is a little extreme. Plants are not conscious beings, after all….but I’m sure that some people would argue with that as well.

      1. A. Tindall says:

        What do you permit the kids to eat re: animal products?

        1. My kids eat dairy (cheese, milk, etc.) and chicken nuggets. They will also eat pepperoni on pizza. Other than that, they aren’t big meat eaters. But they’re only 4 and 2….and most kid food isn’t meat to begin with. The eat a lot of fruits, veggies, mac-n-cheese, grilled cheese, scrambled eggs, and stuff like that.

  24. “Unfortunately, big agriculture has recently made a push for new “Ag-gag” laws which would criminalize whistle-blowing on factory farms. So basically, they want to make reporting illegal activity……illegal. ”


    I am not a huge meat eater and while ideologically I think vegetarianism is great, I think I’m personally always going to eat meat in some quantity. T is a hugely built guy and a huge meat eater though (steak! bacon! roast!) having grown up on meat and two veg.

    It’s interesting how people can be wired so differently. Our month in Italy was spent eating basically entirely vegetarian, and while my body loved it (aside from being constantly hungry) he felt bad and really struggled. I’m sure some of it was detoxing but it should have cleared up by the end, and I genuinely believe he needs a lot of meat in his diet to thrive. He also drinks milk like it’s going out of fashion (sigh).

    I’d like to make the effort to buy better quality meat more often, and maybe switch to free-range eggs though they are a bit of a stretch financially.

  25. We enjoy meat enough that I don’t see cutting it out in the cards, but I do try to buy mostly free range, grass fed, etc products, and wild caught fish on the green list. I have no issue with eating animals, but they should be treated (and killed) humanely.

    I’d like to see programs like the animal welfare standards labeling at whole foods become more widespread overall, since that gives us as consumers better information to make purchases with. I’m happy to pay a bit more for a chicken who had a straw to peck at and an outdoor area than it costs for one that had its beak chopped off so it couldn’t peck the other 50 birds in its cage, and while I know that’s something not everyone can afford I think we all have the right to know and make the choice.

  26. I totally agree with what you’re dropping on us here and you’re right the best thing we can do is vote with our dollars. We actually buy a 4-H market pig almost yearly and split the meat with several families. Supports the community and we get high quality bacon and pork chops. I think the biggest problem with your argument is that the folks at PETA aren’t doing you any favors. and are actually are hurting the dialogues you’re trying to start. They are nutjob extremists who I unfortunately have had to deal with on a couple occasions.

  27. I can’t disagree with your take on treatment of animals. However, I feel treatment of human beings is a much bigger issue. I’d much rather have the spotlight shone on the sex slave traffic and sweatshop slavery in America. Not to mention rich kids now being legally empowered to mow down lesser Americans with impunity by pleading the Affluenza defense. Let’s solve those problems first. Until then, I’m not going to break my head over a chicken’s emotions. 🙂

    1. There is no reason we can’t work on multiple problems at a time.

  28. I always have such respect for vegetarians/vegans and I know it’s probably SUPER annoying to have people constantly hound you about it. We have a really close friend who is vegan, and she has taught me so much about animal cruelty. While we aren’t vegetarian, my husband grew up on a farm and is really big on knowing where food comes from and eating meat that has been humanely raised and killed.

  29. One of the reasons I like the idea behind paleo/primal eating. Yes, the whole concept centers more on meats and animal fats vs grains and seed oils. However, one of the primary goals is to get humanely raised meat because a healthy animal also provides a more nutritionous meal (shocking, I know). Which is really the whole reason why we eat in the first place, nutritrients and calories.

  30. I stopped eating red meat and pork years ago after I read a book in middle school that talked about farming practices. I do still eat some chicken (I try to buy locally sourced and organic when possible). Truthfully I probably wouldn’t miss eating chicken if I stopped eating it. I was vegetarian for a while in high school and I didn’t eat much differently then I do now. Incorporating more fruits, grains and veggies into my diet is something I’m trying to do right now anyway.

  31. I’m not a vegetarian but I certainly respect your views on the matter. I think animal cruelty is a major problem. However, I also think people, especially children, starving is a major problem. I’m not entirely certain how to address one problem without worsening the other. Its a major issue and appreciate thoughtful commentary like yours that furthers the discussion.

  32. Tara @ Streets Ahead Living says:

    I’m pre-diabetic so I have to limit my starchy, high carb food intake so a 100% vegetarian and full-of-bean and rice diet is not healthy for me but I do always strive for grass fed beef and organic meat. I purposely bought a chest freezer so I can buy a portion of a cow from a farmer who let his cattle eat grass and hang out with friends as opposed to living their life in a crowded pen.

    I also joined a food coop (we have to work shifts) for the sole reason that I can get grass fed milk. I’d buy raw if I could but unfortunately it’s illegal in NY state.

  33. I like eating meat and hopefully I won’t have to stop eating soon. I, however, understand the points of view of vegetarians (my mom’s a vegan and she decided to go this route after she saw a documentary on how pigs are slaughtered) and I really appreciate those who can do it. However, animal cruelty is not a big enough reason to make me stop eating meat and I unfortunately like to eat tasty food that it makes everything – including keeping a proper weight – difficult. Personally, if I were to stop eating meat, it would be because of all the antibiotics they inject into the poor things and all the chemicals they feed them in order to grow bigger and stronger.

  34. Very well said, Holly. We are slowly going back to being vegetarians. 🙂 My children eat veggies with no problem. Whenever my daughter sees a food item she doesn’t recognize, she’ll ask suspiciously “is that chicken???” in a tone as if I’m poisoning her. LOL.

  35. Animal cruelty was the biggest reason for me to give up eating meat other than fish 2.5 years ago (fish is still a rarity though). I was horrified by what I read. I did grow up on a farm that raised chickens and beef cattle, so at dinner, I knew they were treated well. The chicken in my salad at a local restaurant though, not so much. This is just a personal thing for me, no one else in my family is pescatarian or vegetarian and I respect that.

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