But if someone tells me that they are vegan and I'm a bad person because I am not, I will ask them to consider some of the following:
- The Ethics of Eating Meat, by Charles Eisenstein [UPDATED: outdated link fixed]
Charles Eisenstein, author of The Yoga of Eating: Transcending Diets and Dogma to Nourish the Natural Self, explains why he eats meat in a short and beautiful essay.
- The Vegetarian Myth, by Lierre Keith
With lyrical and heartfelt prose, the author, who was vegan for 20 years, methodically deconstructs the notion of vegan virtue. Eisenstein's essay probably influenced her book, directly or indirectly. (I don't have the book handy to check the bibliography.) See my review of The Vegetarian Myth here, in which I explore her arguments. Some book excerpts on her website here.
- Eating Animals, by Jonathan Saffron Foer
A nuanced and flowing exploration of some of the ethical issues around eating meat, and how some people navigate them.
- Twenty Two Reasons Not to Go Vegetarian, by Sally Fallon Morell
Sally Fallon Morell is eloquent and prepared, as usual. Among other things, she points out the impossibility of living in industrial society without benefiting from the slaughter of animals. For instance:
Not only the steak on your plate, but a myriad of other products come from slaughtered cows, including components used in the manufacture of cosmetics, plastics, waxes (in crayons and candles), soaps, cleansers, shampoos, modern building materials and hydraulic brake fluid for airplanes. The membrane that vibrates to make a telephone work is made from beef gelatin. Epinephrine, a widely used drug for asthma and allergic reactions, is made from beef adrenal glands.She includes an excerpt from a letter that Rich Latimer of Falmouth, Massachusetts, had in the January 7, 2008 New Yorker, reminding us of the animal slaughter involved in growing plant foods (even organic ones):
Countless millions of wee furry beasties, mice, moles and voles, as well as ground-nesting birds, are killed outright or die off from habitat destruction annually, when vast acreages are tilled by huge, mindless machines to grow “ethical” grains and vegetables. More are killed during the growing season by rodenticide grain baits, including zinc phosphide. Small mammals and birds are killed by machinery again at harvest time, and even more are killed by pest-control practices in granaries and processing plants before vegetables get to market. There’s no such thing as a guilt-free lunch.