Return of the Meat-Eaters: Many Lapsed Vegetarians Become ‘Ethical Omnivores’

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Are you a vegetarian? Stats say you’re probably a woman. You probably bid adieu to four-legged creatures for ethical reasons. And you’ll probably be a carnivore again in no time.

In 2005, a CBS News study found that ex-vegetarians outnumber current vegetarians by a ratio of three to one, suggesting that 75% of vegetarians lapse. A survey by Hal Herzog and Morgan Childers found that these born-again omnivores were mostly women (as many vegetarians are) an average age of 28 years old and had been vegetarians for nine years when they reverted. The majority went vegetarian due to concerns about the treatment of animals and returned to meat because of declining health  (“I will take a dead cow over anemia any time,” one man told Psychology Today), logistical hassles, social stigmas, and meat cravings. Only two of the seventy-seven former vegetarians surveyed resumed meat-eating because their moral views changed.

(PHOTOS: Cow-Pooling)

For some, like Berlin Reed, 29, the return to meat has ironically been a humane one. Reed, who went vegetarian at age 12, was such a die-hard that his friends once staged a “bacon intervention.” He has the world “vegan” tattooed on his neck. But these days, he both eats meat and works with it, calling himself “the ethical butcher.” He insists that changes in the butchery profession are crucial to improving the meat system. “I don’t eat beef from factory farms for many of the same reasons I won’t buy clothes from The Gap,” Reed told the Today show. “It’s all about the industries and practices that are polluting our world, not whether or not it is okay to kill for food.”

(MORE: Animal Cruelty: Could a Barbaric Pig-Handling Video Hurt Major Grocery Chains?)

Indeed, it seems that the latest form of animal activism is not not eating meat, but rather only eating ethical, sustainable meat. What’s that? It depends on the perspective, though it can include some combination or permutation of industry terms like “organic” “free-range,” “cruelty-free,” and “natural,” and labels about animal welfare from certification companies. Sustainable meat-eating is particularly suitable for those who return to omnivorism because of health problems, like nutritionist Julie Daniluk, 38, who co-hosts a cooking show on the Oprah Winfrey Network, where she promotes conscientious meat-eating and weekly “vegetarian days.”

Most of us will never be able to quit meat cold turkey. But maybe the cold turkey can find its way back to the fridge in a more humane form.

LIST: Top 10 Animal Stories

1 comments
rationalism
rationalism

TIME: The meat industries latest subsidiary.  


An article from 2011 throwing around stats from a study done in 2005...from CBS?  A news corporation that, like many others, has made fact checking a standard of the past.  


Once again, the news tells us that vegetarianism is a weakness, worthy of social stigma (which articles like this only perpetuate), and a "logistical hassle" (hahaha, like groceries? groceries are a hassle?). These are human frailties that exist within several areas of sociology.  Yet none of these setbacks can justify the need to consume meat.


And then we have this brilliant quote.  "I will take a dead cow over anemia any time, one man told psychology today".  Let's break down how ridiculous this statement is.  Men generally do not need meat to provide iron.  We naturally create enough iron through plant sources to be just fine.  Most women, on the other hand, dispense enough blood monthly to develop anemia if not supplementing with iron sources.  This may be why CBS found that women are more likely to sway from vegetarianism.  However,  meat is NOT a necessary source of iron for women.  An iron supplement, for most women, will do just fine.  If this man is suffering from anemia, it is not a result of subtracting meat from his diet.  Anemia is a serious medical symptom.  This man needs a balanced nutritional diet if he is naturally predisposed to a reduction in iron. However, if quoted accurately, the arrogance in his statement may define HIMSELF as the problem and not his assumed necessity for meat. No human needs or should be eating red meat, we don't contain the appropriate enzymes to break red meat down and the only nutritional value red meat has are a result of the plant based diet the cow consumed.  So for this man to say "i'll take a dead cow" is ignorant, brash and lazy.  


There is so much ridiculous "carnivore propaganda" in this article that nearly each and every sentence could be dissected and refuted. But then again, there must be a reason why I'm the only one that has commented on a 3 year old article. Maybe most people could smell the BS before the second paragraph?


But who am I kidding, this article was developed for weak fad vegetarians on the fence, to be pushed to the carnivorous side.  Which I assume is why Time chose to post a picture of a woman eating a fast food burger with bleached bread, fake cheese, and tortured meat.  You're right Time, the alternative to vegetarianism is fast food.