Ari: What the fuck are we doing here, man. I’m on Atkins, I need protein.
Vince’s girl: Ah come on, there’s plenty of protein in mong beans.
Ari: No no, I’m talking about real protein. You know, like men protein, you know, from the flesh of slaughtered animals. (..)
Vince: Meat is murder…
Ari: Even broccoli screams when you rip it from the ground!
Ari Gold, Entourage, ‘The Script and the Sherpa’ (S1E05)
Ari Gold pretty much has it bang on the money here. Meat is protein. Meat is the reason human evolution occurred, it’s the reason we function today, and no vegetarian substitute ever tastes as good as meat. So straight off, I’m going to say that vegetarians have it totally, completely, 100% wrong. Here’s why.
Firstly, the evolutionary perspective. If you ask any anthropologist, it’s pretty damn obvious that we have meat to thank for the fact that we are the rulers of the planet today, instead of dragging our knuckles along the ground with our fellow primates (see ‘Meat-eating was essential for human evolution, says UC Berkeley anthropologist specializing in diet‘). It’s even more important for babies, who need the stuff for growth and brain development. So by denying meat from your diet, you are not only punching evolution to the ground and kicking it in the face, you’re hurting babies. Face it: we didn’t climb to the top of the food chain to eat a friggin’ soy loaf with a side of rice crackers for dinner.
If evolutionary theory doesn’t convince you (in which case you’re probably a creationist and we don’t give a shit what you think anyway. Seriously, why are you reading this?), then there is the fact that a vegetarian diet has some very real cons. Sure, it may sound nice to reassure yourself that you don’t have rotting animal carcass simmering in your stomach juices (mmm), but the fact of the matter is that not all vegetarians are health-conscious, well-informed nutritionists. Nine times out of ten, poor meal planning or just a lack of time leads to vegetarians missing out on omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin B12, calcium and iron. Cutting through all the boring stuff, these nutrients – which are common in a meat-eating diet – are known to help with helping to make DNA, personality disorders, transporting oxygen, strengthening your bones, and producing and maintaining cells. At this point many vegetarians will cry out, claiming that their iron/oxygen/lame levels are higher than when they ate meat. This is NOT the case for the majority of vegetarians and vegans who regularly suffer from a lack of these nutrients and associated health problems, so clearly you are just a special snowflake!
Now, one of the reasons many people become vegetarian is because they are concerned about animal welfare. This is a fair enough point… to an extent. You see, sanctimoniously referring to chickens bred for food to the holocaust (yes, someone actually said this to me once as I was eating a chicken burger – I nearly brained him), or talking about the cruelty of a cow being killed to make mincemeat, not only totally turns meat-eaters off from ever talking to you, it makes you look like an idiot. Yes, pigs being kept in cages where they can barely move is cruel. Yes, chickens having their beaks clipped off is cruel. But my problem with the smug “we are pro-animal rights, you are a kitten-squasher” PETA-style of thinking, is that those same people who proclaim that killing animals is cruel would not hesitate to stamp on a cockroach, swat a fly or squish an ant. Where do you draw the line, people? Does the ‘living beings should not be killed merely for human satisfaction’ rule only extend to creatures that you find cute? Spiders have mothers too, you know…
“A human can be healthy without killing animals for food. Therefore if he eats meat he participates in taking animal life merely for the sake of his appetite.”
Leo Nikolaevich Tolstoy, Russian author (1828-1910)
Shut up, Tolstoy.
Finally, and for me what is the most important point: meat is delicious. Think of all the classic, home-style, heart-warming comfort foods that always make you feel better – spaghetti bolognaise, ribs, chicken schnitzel, heck, even potato salad has bacon in it sometimes. Notice there was no ‘steamed tofu vege-pie’ or ‘black beans with green beans and more beans plus a steamed carrot’ on that list. This is because vegetarian food is incredibly hard to make interesting, and dining out as a vegetarian is difficult – just ask my friend Tanya who recently had to make do with a tasty meal of vege-balls while the rest of us had salmon and steak at a university function. While vegetarian food may not in itself be bland, it generally lacks the flavour and satisfaction of a meat dish.
So for those of you who think you’re doing the world a huge favour by not eating meat, please get over yourselves. Meat-eating played a fundamental role in shaping human evolution and making us what we are today, it keeps us healthy, and more importantly, it’s incredibly tasty. Homer Simpson said it best when he reminded Lisa “all normal people love meat… you don’t win friends with salad.”