The responses presented here are by no means the only answers to common
questions. They are intended as suggestions and as a source of ideas when
formulating your own responses. We recommend that you do not try to
memorize and repeat these, but rather, incorporate them into your own
"Vegetarianism is a personal choice. Don’t try to force it on
From a moral standpoint, actions that harm others
are not matters of personal choice. Murder, child abuse, and cruelty to
animals are all immoral. Our society now encourages meat-eating and the
cruelties of factory farming, but history teaches that society also once
encouraged slavery, child labor, and many other practices now universally
recognized as wrong.
"Animals kill other animals for food, so why shouldn’t
Most of the animals who kill for food could not survive if
they didn’t. That is not the case for us. We are better off not eating
meat. Many other animals are vegetarians, including some of our closest
primate relatives. Why don’t we look to them as our example instead of to
"The animals have to die sometime."
do, too, but that doesn’t give you the right to kill them or to cause them
a lifetime of suffering.
"Farmers have to treat their animals
well, or they won’t produce as much milk or lay as many
Animals on factory farms do not gain weight, lay eggs, and
produce milk because they are comfortable, content, or well cared for, but
rather, because they have been manipulated specifically to do these things
through genetics, medications, hormones, and management techniques. In
addition, animals raised for food today are slaughtered at extremely young
ages, usually before disease and misery have decimated them.
huge numbers of animals are raised for food that it is less expensive for
farmers to absorb some losses than it is to provide humane
"What will we do with all those chickens, cows, and
pigs if everyone becomes a vegetarian?"
It’s unrealistic to expect
that everyone will stop eating animals overnight. As the demand for meat
decreases, the number of animals bred will decrease. Farmers will stop
breeding so many animals and will turn to other types of agriculture. When
there are fewer of these animals, they will be able to live more natural
"If everyone turned vegetarian, it would be worse for the
animals because so many of them would not even be born."
factory farms is so miserable that it is hard to see how we are doing
animals a favor by bringing them into that type of existence, confining
them, tormenting them, and then slaughtering them.
switches to vegetables and grains, will there be enough to
Yes. We feed so much grain to animals in order to fatten them
up for consumption that if we all became vegetarians, we could produce
enough food to feed the entire world. In the U.S., animals are fed more
than 80 percent of the corn we grow and more than 95 percent of the oats.
The world's cattle alone consume a quantity of food equal to the caloric
needs of 8.7 billion people—more than the entire human population on
"Don’t vegetarians have difficulty getting enough
In the West, our problem is that we get too much protein,
not too little. Most Americans get about seven times as much protein as
they need. You can get enough protein from whole wheat bread, oatmeal,
beans, corn, peas, mushrooms, or broccoli—almost every food contains
protein. Unless you eat a great deal of junk food, it's almost impossible
to eat as many calories as we need for good health without getting enough
By contrast, too much protein is the major cause of
osteoporosis and contributes to kidney failure and other diseases of
"Don’t humans have to eat meat to stay
Both the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the American
Dietetic Association have endorsed vegetarian diets. Studies have also
shown that vegetarians have stronger immune systems than meat-eaters and
that meat-eaters are almost twice as likely to die of heart disease, 60
percent more likely to die of cancer, and 30 percent more likely to die of
other diseases. The consumption of meat and dairy products has been
conclusively linked with diabetes, arthritis, osteoporosis, clogged
arteries, obesity, asthma, and impotence.
"Eating meat is
natural. It’s been going on for thousands of years. Our bodies are
designed that way."
Actually, human bodies are better suited for a
vegetarian diet. Carnivorous animals have long, curved fangs, claws, and a
short digestive tract. Humans have flat, flexible nails and our so-called
"canine" teeth are minuscule compared to those of carnivores, and even
compared to vegetarian primates like gorillas and oranguatans. Our tiny
canine teeth are better suited to biting into fruits than tearing through
tough hides. We have flat molars and a long digestive tract suited to a
diet of vegetables, fruits, and grains. Eating meat is hazardous to our
health; it contributes to heart disease, cancer, and many other health
"What’s wrong with drinking milk? Don’t dairy cows
need to be milked?"
In order for a cow to produce milk, she must
have a calf. "Dairy cows" are impregnated every year in order to keep up a
steady supply of milk. In the natural order of things, the cow’s calf
would drink her milk (eliminating her need to milked by humans). But dairy
cows’ babies are taken away within a day or two of birth so that humans
can have the milk nature intended for their calves. Female dairy calves
may be slaughtered immediately or raised to be future dairy cows. Male
dairy calves are confined for 16 weeks in tiny veal crates too small for
them even to turn around in.
The current high demand for dairy
products requires that cows be pushed beyond their natural limits,
genetically engineered and fed growth hormones in order to produce huge
quantities of milk. Even the few farmers who choose not to raise animals
intensively must both eliminate the calf (who would otherwise drink the
milk) and eventually send the mother off to slaughter after her milk
"I know a vegetarian who is
There are healthy and unhealthy vegetarians. But
doctors agree that vegetarians who eat a varied, low-fat diet stand a much
better chance of living longer, healthier lives than their meat-eating
"I didn’t kill the animal."
No, but you
hired the killer. Whenever you purchase meat, that means that the killing
was done for you and you paid for it.
"If you were starving on a
boat at sea, and there were an animal on the boat, would you eat the
I don’t know. Humans will go to extremes to save their own
lives, even if it means hurting someone innocent. (People have even killed
and eaten other people in such situations.) This example, however, isn't
relevant to our daily choices. For most of us, there is no emergency and
no excuse to kill animals for food.
"It’s okay to eat eggs
because chickens lay them naturally. The eggs we buy in the supermarket
are sterile and not unborn fetuses."
This is true, but the real
cruelty of egg production lies in the treatment of the "laying hens"
themselves, who are perhaps the most abused of all factory-farmed animals.
Each egg from today’s factory farms represents 22 hours of misery for a
hen packed in a cage the size of a filing cabinet drawer with up to five
other chickens. Cages are stacked many tiers high, and feces from cages
above fall onto the chickens below. Hens become lame and develop
osteoporosis from forced immobility and calcium lost to produce egg
shells. Some birds’ feet grow around the wire cage floors; they starve to
death because they are unable to reach the food trough. At just two years
old, most hens are "spent" and they are sent to the slaughterhouse.
Egg-laying hatcheries don’t have any use for male chicks; they are killed
by suffocation, decapitation, crushing, or are ground up