Point/Counterpoint pt1

Erin Roof

Don’t eat animals, meatheads!

So far this semester, Tony Cox and I have tackled some very complex issues: capital punishment, faith-based organizations and the war on terror … but nothing, NOTHING, seems as difficult to argue as the ethics of eating animals.

I knew I would struggle when Tony and I met last week to take the dorky photo at the bottom of the page. We talked about our upcoming column, and he commented about his steadfast desire for the taste of burned flesh. I think what he said was, “I love meat.” But, you get the point.

Most Americans lust after the taste of blood and the feeling of veins between their teeth. The major downfall of the animal rights movement is that it expects people like this to have compassion for animals. We vegans and vegetarians bombard the meat-eating public with our images of bald, five-winged, mutated chickens and expect people to feel sympathy. But these people don’t care.

We must realize that more than guns, Jesus and reality television, Americans love meat.

Big, juicy hunks of it.

Swimming in pools of blood.

With parsley on top.

So I’ve stepped down from my usual soapbox issue of cruelty to animals and decided to take a different approach to show the crucial importance of vegetarianism. A specific photo comes to mind. It shows an obese American man in sweatpants sitting on a bench. Next to him is a malnourished African child who is one-sixteenth his size. The contrast is gut-wrenching and powerful.

How greedy we are! With the agricultural advancements of last century’s “green revolution,” we have reached the capability to alleviate world hunger. But we have become too infatuated with fast food and the Atkins diet to realize, or care, how selfish and illogical our eating habits are. It’s terribly ironic that a nation obsessed with efficiency eats in such an archaic manner — but, hey, we love our burgers.

Global Hunger Alliance cites 8.8 million people die every year from hunger and other related causes. (Three-fourths are under the age of five!) These statistics would not exist if people gave up filling their diets with absurd amounts of meat.

So much grain is wasted in raising animals for food. Farmers grow grain to feed animals, who, in turn, feed us. According to Dr. M.E. Ensminger, the president of the Agriservices Foundation, about 2,000 pounds of grain is needed to feed livestock to produce meat for one person for one year. The same amount of grain could sustain five vegetarians for the same length of time. If, on a massive scale, we switched to plant-based diets, we could make it possible to eliminate world hunger with our excess of grain.

Worldwatch estimates even a 5-percent reduction in meat consumption (about one less meat dish per person each week) would free up enough grain to feed 25 million people — the number of Americans who can’t afford adequate food.

Removing yourself from this illogical, vicious and inefficient cycle is an easy sacrifice that could save so many people. It is the only ethical way to eat.

Erin Roof is a junior magazine journalism major and a columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected].