I have been a vegetarian for over 3 years now. I decided to stop eating meat when I was going through my Buddhist phase, because as some of you may know some sects of Buddhism encourage a vegetarian diet. Even after abandoning Buddhism, I remained convinced by the ethical arguments against meat consumption, that is until quite recently when I began having doubts around my reasoning.
I’ve been reading ‘Asking the Right Questions: A Guide To Critical Thinking’ by M. Neil Browne and Stuart M. Keeley, which has introduced me to the notions of values, and specifically conflicts of values. The main value that drives my vegetarianism is not unnecessarily causing harm to living beings, my current dilemma is that this value is in conflict with the value that I place upon my personal health. The simple fact of the matter is that unless you are careful and scrupulous (which I am not) it’s a lot harder for a vegetarian to be as healthy as a meat eater. There are many amino acids, proteins and fats etc which simply aren’t available, or are hard to get without eating meat. I don’t feel like I am getting a healthy diet at the moment, and it is not within my financial capabilities to do so.
So how do I reconcile these values? Do I remain on my current, potentially unhealthy diet? Well, I’m leaning towards no on that one. I think I can eat meat and not entirely compromise my value of not causing unnecessary harm to living beings. The main problem I always had with eating meat was the way in which animals were treated in battery farms and so on. I think if I sourced my meat ethically, from animals that I could be sure lived a happy life, so to speak, I would not compromise my ethical values, or my health.
So yeah, I am weighing heavily towards returning to an omnivorous diet (with meat sourced ethically) so as not to compromise the value that I place upon my personal health and well-being.