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Opinion From the comments: Debating the pleasure of eating vs. the environmental consequences

Illustration for Country Gentleman magazine, 1915/Alamy

Today’s featured comments come from an opinion piece about veganism. The comments were highlighted due to the respectful manner in which our readers debated this controversial topic.

From With veganism on the rise, is meat cooked?

Vegetarianism has made sense for whole populations. Protein is provided through legumes, but also a lion’s share through eggs and dairy. Those who aren’t complete purists may add fish. In some climates, this type of diet DOES make the most sense.

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Veganism is a first world fad with religious overtones - key nutrients are not possible with a vegan diet so require supplements. Vegans in countries like Canada can’t possibly meet their dietary requirements through food grown here, but most get the bulk of their food from somewhere else. There’s a lot of time (and money - this diet is very expensive) spent focusing on what you’re going to eat, kind of like early man who spent much of their time foraging for food. They’re doing this for \ethical' reasons (why they won’t eat eggs or cheese). They also treat everyone else - even vegetarians - with obnoxious superiority. And though I believe animals should be treated right, I still put humans before other animals. Vegans don’t.

Maybe people are confusing vegetarians and vegans - don’t. It’s two very different things. – Gizella

The next comment sparked an informative back-and-forth between our readers

It’s true that raising animals for consumption has a large environmental toll, and the oceans cannot sustain current levels of fishing.

But the human body was designed for an omnivorous diet. Our teeth and our gut evolved to eat both animals and plants. And it is telling that many vegetarian or vegan options are shoddy imitations of animal protein -- clearly many of those who have eschewed animal products still crave them.

I don’t eat nearly as much animal protein as my parents did, and my daughter is a vegetarian with the exception of wild caught fish. Beef and pork are rare in my house, and many days we eat no meat at all.

But I don’t believe that cultured meat and dairy will whet my appetite at all. I don’t enjoy most highly processed foods and can’t imagine that the taste and texture will be at all satisfying. If the bakery industry can’t even make a chocolate chip cookie that holds a candle to those I make myself, I simply can’t imagine that faux meat or dairy will have any allure whatsoever.

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Call me selfish, but good food is one of my great pleasures in life. – WhistlingInTheDark

Which prompted the following conversation

Completely agree; I would rather have a higher quality of life.

I was vegetarian for 20 years and now eat a very high protein diet, weight train and have an active life style. I feel, look and perform better at 48 than 30. – willi-jo

I am not sure we were meant to be omnivores. Without fire to cook our meat, , and tools to cut meat - using our teeth to bite off and then digesting our meat would have been very tough. – Sandstorm

Humanity descended from the Chimpanzee tribe ...

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In nature chimpanzees have been observed to hunt small animals and eat them. Not pretty but can be done. We are indeed omnivores and designed to eat "meat" - but not necessarily farm animals as such. Grubs and other delicacies come to mind .-)

A purely vegan diet requires careful selection, since not all items have the protein faimiles we require. – DieterHH

If you would care to look at prehistoric cave paintings, they have a strong focus on hunting. Aboriginals the world over are predominantly hunter-gatherers.

Cultivation of plants came late in human history, and tooth decay was quite rare before carbohydrates became the largest part of our diet.

We cannot digest most grasses (as cattle do), nor can we digest cellulose. Without animals, primitive man would have had great difficulty getting sufficient calories or protein to survive. – WhistlingInTheDark

One theory is precisely that inventing fire was a major evolutionary leap that made us human, by allowing us to cook our food

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https://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/why-fire-makes-us-human-72989884/ - skyofblue

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