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A few weeks ago, I was at a dinner party, as I mingled among the various clicks, I happened upon a discussion about the merits of different dietary practices. The central discussion was about Vegetarianism. For those of you not familiar with the various forms of vegetarianism, I’ll list them now. Vegans eat food only derived from plants. This would include fruits, vegetables, legumes, grains, seeds and nuts. A lacto vegetarian eats everything that a vegan does, plus dairy products but not eggs. Lacto-ovo vegetarian, is a lacto vegetarian who eats eggs. The Lacto-ovo vegetarian, is the most common one practiced in the United States. A semi-vegetarian is someone who eats everything, except red meat.

As I stood in the circle listening to the discussion, the two primary reasons, people gave for choosing the vegetarian life style; Health and the desire not to kill another living creature.

I believe the health concern is valid. It is the quantity and quality that most impacts our health. In the United States, we generally eat, way too much, of all the wrong things. Highly processed simplex carbohydrates with a good helping of salt and sugar, all bound together by fat delivered with protein. I don’t think this stuff is bad for you, if you eat it once or twice a month, but for too many its a mainstay. Transparency within the Agricultural Industry is not forthcoming, which compounds the issue. Meat from animals which have been chemically modified either directly by injection or via feeds to enhance growth in an unnatural fashion, either chemically or genetically, is likely not safe long term for the environment or those consuming large quantities. Many point to Organic as a safe option, but in the United States, the term “Organic” stamped on a product may not mean what you’d expect, because it is dependent on the producer to interpret and adhere to a standard.

The other aspect is the killing of animals. I think it matters whether an animal is killed with reverence or callousness. I can’t say if it matters to the animal, but it should matter to humanity. It is the method that matters. When we incarcerate people for crimes against society, rules and standards for treatment of the condemned are engaged that are deemed to be humane. Some would argue that I’m placing animals on an equal plane as humans. Perhaps it’s my folly, but humans are animals. If I was an outsider looking in, I’m not sure I’d see the difference, except that the ones wearing clothing, have a propensity for harming other living creatures, when not threatened or hungry. I don’t propose we elevate the other creatures we share the world with, I propose we elevate our humanity. Dare I say it, evolve our humanity to the level of respecting life in all forms. We are unlikely to stop eating animal meat, but we could develop better methods for treating the condemned.

Perhaps, it would help if we changed the current food group from Fruits, Vegetables, Grains, Proteins, and Dairy, to something with a bit more of a face. I offer you, Mammals, Fish, Reptiles, Dinosaurs and Plants with the caveat that we avoid eating any mammal that is a predator, primate, or an endangered species. That still leaves plenty of food on the table. Fish, go for it. Reptiles, if it’s what you’re into, slide on up to the table, but no thanks I’ll pass. All birds, because they’re really dinosaurs and we can’t let them get a foothold again. Of course plants, because they want their seeds delivered.

We are omnivores, which basically tells us, we are designed to run on any fuel that’s available. We can choose, so choose wisely because if aliens stop by for a meal, you want to lead by example.