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Omnivore vs. Vegan
Are we supposed to consume animal products? Or is veganism our next big
By Patrick Dougherty
Imagine a vegan is shipwrecked on a remote tropical island. Suddenly, the luxury of choosing foods that suit vegan beliefs is replaced with the necessity of finding any food that is available.
While seaweed, edible roots and the occasional coconut might offer temporary plant-based sustenance, a starving vegan would eventually also turn to fishing, hunting for wild boars, collecting eggs and scavenging for grubs. Holding aloft a wriggling, freshly speared fish, which ordinarily might trigger revulsion in a vegan, would now bring gratification for protein, healthy essential fatty acids, food energy and a full belly. In a natural world such as this pristine desert isle, a compelling argument supports the consumption of animal products: survival.
Back in the increasingly unnatural civilized world, however, the argument for eating animals weakens. A bountiful food supply has exaggerated our instinctual, survival-driven omnivorous urges to dangerous excess. Meeting the overwhelming demand for animal products are massive factory farming operations, driven to maximize profits by producing as much milk, eggs and meat as possible. The steps taken to achieve this end, including cheap animal feed, poor animal living conditions and use of antibiotics and growth hormones, yield animal products that are deficient in natural nutrition but abundant in disease-promoting saturated fats, omega-6 fatty acids, toxins and residual antibiotics and hormones. Particularly at risk are those carnivorous souls who forego the valuable phytonutrients found in antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables for a steady diet of meat, eggs and dairy products.
Even more distressing than just the personal health risks are the environmental risks animal product overconsumption presents to our planet. Giant factory farming operations are notorious for depleting significant resources and generating pollution, while commercial fishing practices are so destructive that some experts believe 90% of the ocean’s edible species may be gone by the year 2048. The modern world’s factory animal farming and gluttonous meat consumption is unsustainable, ethically questionable and unnatural.
Factory farming-driven overindulgence may be wrong—but what about the act of eating meat in itself? Native Americans’ hunting traditions offer an example of how eating meat can be pure and natural. The hunt required skill, exercise, physical strength and patience. The meat it yielded was more nutritive, coming from free-roaming, grass-fed wild animals. The hunters would treat these animals with respect; Choctaw tribe hunters would ritualistically utter b...