long as people will shed the blood of innocent creatures, there
can be no peace, no liberty, no harmony between people. Slaughter
and justice cannot dwell together.”
— Isaac Bashevis Singer, Nobel Prize Winner
Q. It’s impossible to live completely
cruelty-free. Almost everything we do causes suffering. Why
try at all?
A. True, it is impossible to completely avoid causing
any suffering in our lives. However, that doesn’t justify
an “open season” for flagrant animal abuse. By adopting
a vegetarian diet, we can dramatically reduce the amount of
suffering we cause in our daily lives.
Being vegetarian isn’t about being “pure.” Rather,
it is about doing what we can—within reason—to remove our
support for animal cruelty.
Q. Other animals eat each other. Why can’t we eat
A. Predators in the wild kill other animals out of necessity. Without
doing so, they wouldn’t survive. We kill other animals by choice. Our
bodies don’t need meat at all. In fact, it has consistently been shown
that a low-fat vegetarian diet is healthier than a diet heavy with animal
Is it acceptable to inflict suffering on countless animals
for something that isn’t even necessary?
Q. If you want to be vegetarian, that’s fine. But,
don’t tell me what to do.
A. Imagine saying to someone, “If you don’t want to beat your dog,
that’s fine. But, don’t tell me not to beat mine.” While we are entitled
to believe what we like, we are not entitled to treat others—especially
those weaker than us—however we like. If we are responsible for harming
others, people have every right to ask that we stop.
Q. If the animals are raised to be eaten, isn’t
A. Two hundred years ago in the United States, humans raised other
humans to be slaves. The fact that these people were raised to be slaves
did not justify slavery. Similarly, raising animals for the purpose of
eating them does not justify their exploitation.
Q. Where do you draw the line? Insects? Plants?
A. Because of their lack of a brain, nervous system, pain receptors,
and so on, it is certain that plants and bacteria do not suffer (though
you kill many fewer plants by eating them directly, rather than by funneling
them through farmed animals, as discussed here). There
are some animals (such as insects) who we are not certain are capable
of suffering. It is up to each individual to decide where she or he feels
the line should be drawn. All of the pigs, cows, chickens, fish, and other
animals we raise and kill for food are able to feel pain. Because of this,
they deserve to be free from misery just as much as dogs and cats do.
Q. Humans are the smartest animals and we’re the
“top of the food chain.” Why shouldn’t we use our strength to our benefit?
A. The argument that “might makes right” has been used by many to
justify countless forms of cruelty and domination throughout history.
Just because we’re able to be cruel doesn’t mean we ought