I have been a vegetarian on and off for the past six years. At some points, it was only for health reasons such as to lose weight, but recently it has been more of a cause for me. That’s not to say that I don’t sometimes give in to the temptation of a cheeseburger or grilled chicken. However, even as I enjoy the flavor, I still have to face the knowledge which I have obtained through books and friends, of the horrible conditions these living creatures must endure their entire lives. The end for them entails their merciless slaughter to be fed to humans who could just as well survive on vegetable by-products for half the cost.
The farms of today aren’t as much farms anymore as they are slaughtering factories. Even dairy cows exist under awful conditions until they burn out, at which point they become hamburgers. Chickens, pigs, and cows have no space to move around and literally have to sleep in their own waste. When chickens are ready to be slaughtered, they are lined up on a rack hanging upside down, bound by their feet, and their throats are slit one by one. Of course they don’t die immediately; everyone has heard the phrase, “running around like a chicken with his head cut off.” The argument that animals don’t have feelings is absurd; they obviously have nerves and a brain with which they sense pain and torture. I have a very hard time eating meat with that on my conscience.
For the past month or two, I have tried to maintain a lifestyle of strict veganism; that is, no meat or animal products at all. Finding the temptation of my favorite foods such as cheese and ice cream to be too great, I soon gave up. If that wasn’t enough of a blow to my conscience, I experienced a strong craving for a cheeseburger the other day and lost all willpower. All through French class, as my stomach growled furiously, the battle raged in my head: do I give in and fulfill my body’s need for whatever nutrients a cheeseburger contains, or do I stick to my beliefs and have a salad? Unfortunately, the cheeseburger won.
My point is, I can understand why people eat meat. It tastes good and even if you don’t like it, there are certain vitamins and minerals that your body eventually begins to crave because the level and concentration of them cannot be easily found anywhere else. People also argue that eating meat can’t possibly be wrong because Jesus ate it quite frequently in the Bible. The argument against this goes something like: “Well, Jesus couldn’t just go to Kroger’s and buy a pound of tofu either.”
The different reasons people choose to be vegetarians are varied and personal. I commend and admire people like my friend Jessica who hasn’t so much as touched meat in five years. If only I were that strong. Even though I have somewhat abandoned vegetarianism for now, I still think that the factory farms and slaughterhouses are inhumane, disguisting, and in desperate need of amelioration. The only way this will ever change is if enough people boycott the meat and dairy industry entirely, or at least severely decrease their consumption of animal products. It takes public awareness and action to effect change. Fortunately, this awareness is growing, so there may be some hope of one day existing in a world where all creatures can live free.
I wrote this paper in freshman English and I have made very few changes since. I used one of my freshman papers to demonstrate that this technique can be used throughout your college career — I still use it for every paper I write.
Created by Shana Scudder