Hack my moral dilemma

by 147 · December 19, 2012 at 06:51 PM

I have been doing paleo for about a month now. I feel really healthy and my stomach/fatigue problems have gone away. My issue is I still feel internally conflicted between paleo and vegetarianism. I know meat is very healthy for my body but I don't know if I want to take part in killing anymore. A vegan told me she doesn't want to take anything from the earth she can't replace, and I personally believe that's a good way to look at the world. Still, my body doesn't feel healthy with grains or dairy or soy so I don't think I would really get adequate nutrition as a vegetarian. Is there anyone who is a former vegetarian or has the same qualms as I do who can help me with this philosophical quandary?

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16 Replies

15380 · December 18, 2012 at 09:14 PM

I don't know what to tell you because it has never been a problem for me.

"I don't want to take anything from the earth that I cannot replace." In this case I take it that your friend walks everywhere because she cannot replace gas, walks around naked because she cannot replace cotton and polyester, and does not have any furniture because she has not planted any trees.

Every time I buy/eat something I always think - who will benefit from my money? Is it going to be a cereal making company or a responsible farmer? I vote with my money. If I buy pasteurized milk, it means I am supporting the company that pasteurizes this milk.

Just the other day I had to buy a whole chicken. I went to the farmer's market and found an old lady who raised chickens herself. She told me what she fed those chickens and how they were kept. Of course, she might be telling the truth or not, but I would rather support an old lady than a huge chicken factory where chickens are caged in and debeaked.

Your comment about not taking part in killing makes me think of a dog, that would cry terribly over some rabbit that she had to kill to eat. "Oh, I am such an animal. I am just so cruel. I killed it. How can I go on after committing such a cruel, unforgivable sin? This poor rabbit was so cute. It had such beautiful brown eyes! But it will never be able to hop or enjoy the sun, because... I killed it. What have become of me?"

I am currently on all-meat diet and you know what? At this point I do not really care. When I am hungry, even a duck in a pond looks like dinner. Yes, I support killing animals in order to feed people. But I think it is a lesser evil than supporting candy making companies, McDonalds or any companies that pollute the environment and destroy health.

You can also read this from Denise Minger -


20762 · December 18, 2012 at 08:53 PM

Here, if you have an hour and a half it's worth watching Joel Salatan's talk at AHS12: http://vimeo.com/channels/418298/52709242.

The point I really liked was the whole Exclusive vs Inclusive environmentalism. Most people think that we shouldn't kill or "take" from the earth and that the only right thing for nature is to get rid of humans. But Joel argues a couple of points where the imagination and ingenuity of humans actually makes the earth better than it would be without humans. That is, we improve nature by being there.

It's a bit of a side point do what you asked, but killing and "taking" from nature is natural, just make sure you do it in a way that gives back better than you found it.

1126 · December 18, 2012 at 09:06 PM

Think of the damage that agriculture does to the environment. Especially GMO monocultures. Just try to buy as organically and locally as possible, become a Paleo Localvore.

32177 · December 18, 2012 at 08:45 PM

Read Lierre Keith's book, "The Vegetarian Myth." It's a great resource.

1643 · December 19, 2012 at 03:01 PM

I didn't say nuts and wheat feel pain. But they do fend for themselves on some level. This conversation could extend to the ethics of destroying top soil for wheat, corn, and soy. It could extend to the millions of bacteria destroyed, and thousands of mammals killed, so millions could eat McPukes. We could discuss the ethics of GMOs. In fact, I think CAFO meat would be almost be completely unnecessary if fast food was banned. It's a possibility. But talk about #firstworldproblems. If children in Africa knew how a bunch of human beings were discussing the 'politics' of eating meat on the interwebs, they'd slap us. And steal our grass-fed steak. And rightly so.

We don't cause an animals death for any reason to be ashamed of. We've been eating meat for it's health benefits and nourishing qualities for thousands of years. Fat is king for burning energy in our bodies, and that's not by accident. We create a moral dilemma where there is none. I don't like CAFO meat for it's cruelty, so I buy humanely-raised meat whenever I can. But it's also an inherently selfish move, as I know humanely-raised animals are more nutritious for me to eat.

The comment about throwing yourself over the bridge was half flippant. I'm pretty sure it's impossible to avoid suffering to another live creature through our day-to-day motions. Just living in a house where there once was farm land: I could argue that I've inadvertently killed soil, plant life and animals x amount of years later so I could live here. But I don't, because that's irrational. If were were to wax poetic about how horrible we are for living on this earth and every single awful thing we do to it, purposefully or inadvertently, or for something our ancestors did hundreds of years ago, then yes, suicide would seem to be the only option. Just imagine if we spent that kind of time sitting in meditation. Imagine the health benefits, and world-wide benefit of not thinking for 20 minutes instead of berating one's self for eating meat or if it's ethical. We create problems and moral dilemmas through our thinking. In fact, I invite you all to read this:


Then spend some time and read the comments on Mark Sisson's post on the ethics of eating meat. If you can tolerate it. There are militants are both sides, but the extremist vegetarians are louder.


I don't think animals have thoughts about death during their day to day routine. If they fear death when it comes, that's a biological response to something they want to avoid because they inherently know they need to procreate. I think it's absurd to think our dietary choices make us moral, more ethical, or more like Buddha. It is pure arrogance. If you want to go there, the Dalai Lama eats meat! Jesus ate fish, because meat was too expensive for peasants! (He also ate bread, but wheat wasn't GMO back then...and it was probably unleavened...uhh...err...see how ridiculous this gets?!)

If my post was harsh, it's because I've wrestled with this issue myself for many years and this is a topic that's been on my mind for a few months. I wanted so badly at the age of 16 to be a vegetarian. I could not, at the time, reconcile my love for animals and yet continue to eat them. But health and nutrition trump my emotions any day. If I trusted my emotional response for how I should eat, I'd be stuffing my face on ice cream, cheese and potato chips. I LOVE THEM and they TASTE DELICIOUS. (I'd be sick as hell after, but I digress)

I cannot live perfectly in an imperfect world. Every speck of life is death, and I don't feel that's a slippery slope. I cannot think my way out of eating meat, as data shows not eating meat is far more detrimental than eating it. I cannot argue how I feel physically eating meat and fat to how I've felt when I didn't eat it. I don't think myself to be a morally superior human being because I eat Paleo; but it does work, and it works for the vast majority of people who try it it, minus some tweaking here and there. We all know how detrimental soy and grains are. Most of the vitamins we'd have to supplement with as vegetarians are found only in meat, and are fat soluble. This is not an accident.

We don't have to like death or approve of cruelty to eat meat. We don't have to even agree on any of this. If not eating meat makes you sleep better at night, then fine. That's how you choose to live your life. If questioning the 'ethics' of eating meat helps you live your day-to-day, then fine. But I think it's one big circle jerk where we could be doing much more useful, healthful, beneficial things. I think Paleo/Primal folks are the most thoughtful by far when it comes to 'ethical' eating. I'd say most of us do care where our meat comes from, and how those animals were treated. I'd say we have reverence for life. As spiritual beings, if you believe in that sort of thing (and I do), as we grow in our spiritual lives through prayer, or meditation, we become more aware of how we live and how we may live better. But some things cannot be changed. Meat is fuel, fat is king.

PHEW. I think my yerba mate has been brewing for 40 minutes. I'll be super-charged for the rest of the day!!!

I apologize for pissing any of you off. But I won't apologize for my thoughts/opinions or my feelings on the matter. At the same time, they are just thoughts. None of this is permanent :)

726 · December 18, 2012 at 09:03 PM

Plants are just as alive as animals. You ever till a field? You know how many animals die immediately from that? How many lose their homes and get eaten that night? I apply the golden rule: if the animal leads a good life, that I wouldn't mind leading in its place, then I don't mind eating it. I do mind drinking milk from animals with no space or freedom, which most vegetarians evidently do not.

1193 · December 18, 2012 at 08:49 PM

I'm perfectly fine now knowing that my pastured animals lived a pretty happy life.

415 · December 19, 2012 at 03:33 PM

I second Vegetarian Myth recommendation, but for sustainability arguments, you can't beat Meat: A Benign Extravagance by Simon Fairlie.

He goes over most arguments and numbers related to meat sustainability in a relatively unbiased manner. And he clearly had way too much time on his hands when he was writing the book, but still, it's fascinating to see propaganda on both sides (both vegan and current meat industry) dissected in such insane detail.

Also, Let them eat meat has some great articles showing lots of flaws in vegan argumentation. I'm not sure how helpful would such website be to someone who is still on the fence, but it was interesting read after I quit my vegetarianism (12 years).

775 · December 18, 2012 at 09:07 PM

As long as I can afford it, I will buy grass fed meat. That way, I know the animals led a comfortable life. I tried to be a vegetarian but it didn't work for me. I was always hungry and really missed meat.

250 · December 19, 2012 at 02:30 PM

The way I see it, nature is built op around organisms eating and digesting other organisms. Even animals with an instinctual fears helping them survive, that experience pain at the moment just before dying, will have to go anyway, and then they will be broken down to building blocks for another round in the circle of life. Nature made it that way, just go with it in stead of worrying too much about it.

Keeping animals in cages without freedom, where they lead miserable lives, is another thing, and if you can avoid supporting that, that's a good thing.

679 · December 19, 2012 at 03:15 PM

Found a spider in the house last night. I got a cup, scooped it up, and put it outside.

My wife asked me why I didn't just kill it. I told her it has just as much a right to be alive as I do and killing it served no purpose.

Killing/destroying something, just to be able to do it, is wrong. Doing it to support and sustain my family is not wrong.

I take no pleasure in the idea that an animal/plant died to feed my family. I do, however, celebrate what it gave us.

On a more philosophical level if a farmer did not sell his products he would have no reason to farm and raise anything. If I didn't buy the meat the animal may never have been born in the first place. So what is worse, killing something for reason, so denying the ability to exist at all.

470 · December 19, 2012 at 08:48 AM

Your body loves meat, in fact it was built from the ground up to love it. The only problem with meat is your thoughts about it. You created a moral dilemma where there is none.

1686 · December 19, 2012 at 08:25 AM

Awesome question. Personally Im conflicted with meat eating too and rarely eat it. But Im a hypocrite because i buy a roast chicken for my dog every second day.

Anyone thats seen an abattoir surely must be affected by it. Ive only seen videos and that was shocking. Certainly couldnt look at meat with the same relish.

Im hopeful in the future there will be some type of meat - maybe from worms or insects - that will provide the protein we need without what goes on in abattoirs. Worms and insects are probably more paleo than smoked bacon.

2030 · December 19, 2012 at 06:24 AM

That's a tough one......It's a harsh reality what made us human. I'd suggest maybe reading up on anthropology, looking back at the last 2.5 million years helped me come to terms with it a little.

We did a lot of killing to become who we are and those foods are too important for our health to let go of. Unfortunately there isn't really a way around it.

0 · December 19, 2012 at 05:05 AM


I am also struggling with how to reconcile a desire to be healthier with a moral objection to the animal abuse in our food system. I think it's nearly impossible to always eat meat that came from well-cared for animals; our demand for meat is too great to sustain that. I am trying to eat meat sparingly, fish sometimes and nuts and vegetables most often.

I am glad someone else voiced this concern!

1643 · December 19, 2012 at 02:21 AM

Vegans/vegetarians who espouse some bleeding heart creed of non-suffering should really look at the only solution:

Find the nearest bridge and hurl yourself over!

Does your friend use any plastic? Or glue? Those are made in part from animals.

I don't believe any human being enjoys the thought of death for food. Pro-vegetarian videos that show the cruelty of the CAFO industry are manipulative. I don't think anyone could watch a video like that and not be moved to tears, unless you are a budding sociopath.

I love animals and yet I eat them. I have a deep love and appreciation for nature, and I was raised with parents that felt the same. I do not believe that to be contradictory in the least. But I do not place my emotional response to any animal above the nutrition I know my body needs. Self-sacrifice for animal 'ethics' is an abomination to me. Abhor your own body, mind and health because you love cows? Or chickens? Do they love you? Do they call you? Are you friends with them on FB?

There are extremists on all sides, Paleo is not exempt. But radical/extremist vegetarians are a special type of fucked up.

Oh, and last but certainly not least: those who say that plants do not fend for themselves and can be eaten 'ethically' do not know what we do: PHYTIC ACID! Wheat and nuts don't want to be eaten, and that's why they have phytic acid in the first place. Bam. Case closed. Rice and beans are not a 'complete protein'.


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