Why The Meat-Free Foodstyle Matters

By Jerry H. Parisella

What’s not to like about a filet mignon with bernaise sauce, foie gras with a glass of sauterne, or al dente spaghetti with veal meatballs? What’s more mouth watering than a juicy cheeseburger on a toasted bun, apple-stuffed grilled sausages, or barbecued pulled pork? Who doesn’t have fond memories of digging into tender roast turkey at Thanksgiving, slicing into a succulent baked ham at Easter, or pigging out on pepperoni pizza and cold beers with your friends?

Meat has been satiating our taste buds our entire lives, has been integrated into our holiday celebrations for generations, and has the power to make us salivate like Pavlovian dogs. Let’s face it: meat tastes good, is full of nutrients, and has been an enjoyable part of our culture and social life.

Our lust for animal flesh is also compromising our health. It’s inducing chronic inflammation in our cells, clogging our arteries, slowing our digestion, contributing to colon cancer, and making us fat.

Factory farms supplying us with all that meat cause the needless suffering of millions of animals who are forced to live miserable lives where they are unable to engage in natural animal behaviors and endure painful mutilations before facing horrific deaths and disassembly of their bodies. 

Our insatiable demand for the flesh of animals and its ready supply from industrial-scale factory farms also undermines efforts to feed the world’s starving and malnourished humans by inefficiently using limited agricultural land to raise animals for slaughter, land that could otherwise be more efficiently used to grow nutritious plants and grains for wider human consumption. This is not inconsequential in a world where 870 million of our fellow human beings are hungry, two billion are nutritionally deficient, and twenty million die each year from starvation or diseases related to malnutrition.

Perhaps the two most pernicious prices that we all pay for remaining in this rarely questioned unholy alliance of animal eaters and animal slaughterers are the deadening of our hearts to the legitimate needs of others and habituating our minds to ignore the real costs of our self-indulgence.

To eat animal flesh is to encourage the killing of innocent animals. We may not wish ill for any animal and may, indeed, keep some animals as beloved pets. But the unavoidable calculus in an economy built on supply and demand is that the more steaks we buy at the supermarket, the more veal dishes we order at the restaurant, and the more burgers we throw on the grill, the more animals will suffer and be slaughtered for their flesh. That is the truth.

To eat animals is more than just a simple dietary choice. It is a moral decision with existential consequences – for farm animals, for us and our family members, and for our fellow human beings with whom we share this life-sustaining planet. In my new book, “Stop Eating The Animals,” I lay out a comprehensive case on behalf of the animals who, if we humans could understand their languages, would ask us to stop eating them.

I invite you to come to the NYC Vegetarian Food Festival on Sunday, March 15, 2015 at 1:00 p.m. for an author reading of selected passages from the book. If you bring your copy of the book, I’ll be glad to sign it for you. The book is available for purchase from Amazon.com through the book’s web site StopEatingTheAnimals.org

Hope to meet you at the NYC Vegetarian Food Festival running March 14th-15th at The Metropolitan Pavilion located at 125 West 18th Street in Manhattan.