Here's from the "Arguments" section of Eco-Eating at www.brook.com/veg:
• 29. Arguments Against Vegetarianism? Not really.:
1. Humans are more important than animals, therefore human beings should come first
Tragically, there’s no shortage to suffering and it doesn’t seem to be running out anytime soon. Many of those who say we should tend to people before we take care of animals often use this as an excuse to avoid taking any action in the defense of life and justice. Further, trying to protect the lives of animals certainly doesn’t preclude us from trying to protect the lives of human beings. Indeed, vegetarians often do both.
2. Some animals kill others for food, therefore it’s natural
While certain animals kill for food, others do not. In fact, there are more herbivorous (plant-eating) animals than there are carnivorous (meat-eating) ones. One of the important characteristics of humans is our consciousness and ability to make choices, rather than merely responding to instinct. Making positive, life-affirming choices is the hallmark of community and civilization.
3. It’s my tradition, therefore I feel comfortable with it
We have many traditions, both old and new, as individuals, families, and cultures. While traditions may be important, it is also important to recognize that some traditions are destructive and that traditions often change over time. Our traditions regarding hygiene, work, the role of women, and child rearing, to name just a few, have changed dramatically over recent generations. Slavery was a tradition too.
4. I don’t feel well when I don’t eat meat, therefore I need to eat meat to be healthy and happy
Some people claim not to feel well when they don’t eat meat. Sometimes the detoxification process can be the cause of this, sometimes it could be related to physical habit, it could be psychological, or it could simply be an excuse. We know that eating animals is not necessary and, in fact, studies show that vegetarians tend to be healthier than their meat-eating counterparts. Many vegetarians also report feeling more energetic, more at peace, and happier overall.
5. I can’t get enough protein without meat, therefore I need to eat meat
Despite the conventional myths regarding protein, it is easy to get enough protein if you can get enough calories. Most people who are not desperately poor, and certainly most people in North America, Europe, East Asia, Australasia, and elsewhere, get more than enough calories and more than enough protein. In the U.S., for example, average Americans have about twice the FDA-recommended protein intake. For most people, therefore, the problem isn’t too little protein (few people have protein deficiency), but too much protein, which is linked to a variety of health problems.
6. The food pyramid includes meat, therefore it’s a good thing to eat
The government food pyramid contains meat, but even there it suggests a sparing use. The government is influenced by our culture and traditions, as we are, but is also influenced by the powerful meat and dairy industries, which stand to profit by the continuation of the unhealthy status quo. As alternatives, there are vegetarian (no meat, poultry, or fish) and vegan (no animal products) food pyramids that are unbiased and more accurate for your health.
7. I like the taste of meat, therefore I keep eating it
Simply trying to satisfy our individual tastes and desires, regardless of the impacts on others, has seemingly become a modern American (and increasingly global) ideal, but it is quite selfish. There are many possibilities that are open to us, even if they are legal, but that doesn’t necessarily make them right. Caring for and about others, while caring for and about ourselves, leads to true and lasting satisfaction.
8. Animals are lower than humans on the food chain, therefore animals are natural food for humans
Especially for humans, neither the food chain itself nor the food choices we make are natural and unchangeable. As potential omnivores who were originally vegetarians, humans have choices in the foods we eat and there are no natural foods. Indeed, what we eat is largely determined by our culture and consciousness.
9. We’re stronger than animals, therefore we should use them for our benefit
While physical force may prevail, might does not make right. Simply having the power to accomplish a task in no way makes the means or the ends fair, just, or honorable ones.
10. We have dominion over animals, therefore they are here for human pleasure
It is not so much that we have dominion over animals, but that we share the Earth with them or, perhaps, have stewardship, guardianship, or trusteeship over them, implying co-habitation and responsibility. Animals are not here for us to abuse or exploit, but rather to take care of, to commune with, giving each other companionship and pleasure in mutually satisfying relationships.
11. Modern humans evolved to eat meat, therefore we should continue to do so
Early humans were the hunted, not the hunters, eating only plant-based foods. Avoiding predators, and also not being one, humans further developed their brains as well as their social and cultural techniques of socialization, cooperation, and innovation. Whether back then or now, our teeth and intestines, for example, are not designed for meet consumption. Only after the advent of fire was meet eating even possible. While many people and cultures have incorporated meet into their diets, it is still not part of our physiology, biology, or genetics to eat to meat.
12. It’s always been this way, therefore it will always be this way
Not only hasn’t it always been this way (quite the contrary), but it is not even completely this way now. People and cultures are variable and adaptable. While it is clearly possible for us to eat meet, it is also clearly not necessary. Additionally, it is unhealthy for people, animals, and the environment.
13. If I don’t eat meat, someone else will, therefore I might as well
If you eat meat, more animals are terrorized, tortured, and killed to support your habit. It’s as simple as that. Your actions do make a difference.
14. If we don’t eat animals, we’ll be overrun with them, therefore we need to eat meat to keep their numbers in check
This argument reverses the causal connection. There are a lot of certain animals because they are raised for meat and people eat them. If there were less demand for meat, there would be fewer cows, pigs, chickens, goats, and sheep. People don’t typically eat lions, tigers, rhinos, hippos, zebra, giraffe, elephants, gorillas, and other large mammals and we are certainly not over run with them; quite the contrary, many of these animals are severely threatened in the wild.
15. If we didn’t eat animals, or if we let them, animals would eat us, so we should eat them first
This fear-centered misreading of animals and evolution does not comport with history or science. We’ll never be the next meal of the herbivorous cows and pigs.
16. Animals don’t feel pain or suffer, therefore it doesn’t matter if they’re raised for food
Many studies show that animals do feel and can suffer; many people’s personal experience with animals demonstrates this as well. Examinations of animal brains, nervous systems, nerve cells, and behavior all evidence the possibility of pain. Further, it is increasingly clear that many animals also experience emotions, including emotional pain such as fear, anxiety, sorry, grief, anguish, and terror.
17. Agriculture also kills living beings, so it doesn’t what you eat or do
While it’s true that agriculture and other activities also kill living beings, it should be obvious that animal agriculture kills even more and does so purposely. Additionally, animal agriculture heavily relies on plant-based agriculture to feed the animals raised for meat. Clearly, it’s a matter of intensity and the goal for vegetarians and vegans should be to do what’s most healthy and least destructive, causing the least damage to people, animals, and the environment.
18. I just like to eat meat, therefore I don’t care about the consequences
The great philosopher Hillel once asked: “If I am only for myself, what am I?” Honestly, not much.
While there may be various self-serving rationalizations for eating other animals, there are no biological, genetic, moral, ethical, religious, philosophical, or environmental reasons or benefits for humans to eat meat.
Each and all of the arguments against vegetarianism are ultimately without merit and fail.