I have become a vegetarian [nominally]. This decision took about a half a year from first thoughts about it to actually doing something about it. So first I’ll explain my reasons and then the process.

Firstly, I’m not that fussed about the conditions in which animals are kept or treated. If you want mass production to feed the human race then you have to accept that it’ll be done at the cheapest. While the conditions would probably affect me if I was to see them, it is poor regulation and market forces that has made all this possible. You don’t become vegetarian to stop poor treatment of animals, you become a politician or farmer.

I don’t have any issues with eating meat because animals might have souls or are sentient. Once it’s dead it’s dead and the remains may as well be eaten or used for the common good.

My reasons are split roughly between health reasons, feeding the world and environmental reasons. Cutting out mammal meat is a good thing to do for health reasons. Now, there’s no real reason to go in to details but at one point I had high cholesterol and although I thought my diet was largely healthy looking at advice certainly made me think about giving up meat. That was March time this year and giving up meat germinated in my mind.

It seems largely strange to me that I can go to the supermarket and buy pretty much any amount of food and whatever type of food that I want. I can even buy some to purposefully throw away. And yet, too many people in this world go without food, or are severely ill from not enough food. This is fucking disgusting. We can produce enough food to feed the current population of this planet but we don’t have a global distribution system. Except, we can globally move food around to get to my supermarket but we don’t care about those poor fuckers dying or malnourished.

If we transferred the food we grow to feed animals to feeding humans we could easily support everyone on this planet with plenty spare. We use field space for animal feed. That just seems crazy to me. Also, the field space used for tobacco is a disgrace.

The production of animals for food has a huge CO2 impact. We use / produce more CO2 for meat production than we do for just growing vegetables and corn. It would be very easy to argue that it’s immoral to continue to do this given the effect that CO2 has on our delicate planet. Now my argument is seeming a little vague because as I said earlier if I wanted to change the world I should become a politician or a farmer. I guess I like to think I’m doing my little bit. Anthropogenic Global Climate Change is going to fuck this planet over. I have zero confidence politicians will do anything about it until it is way too late.

Giving up beef will reduce carbon footprint more than cars – The Guardian

Potential contributions of food consumption patterns to climate change – American Journal of Clinical Nutrition

Going vegetarian halves CO2 emissions from your food – New Scientist

The age-and-sex-adjusted mean GHG emissions in kilograms of carbon dioxide equivalents per day (kgCO2e/day) were 7.19  for high meat-eaters ( > = 100 g/d), 5.63 for medium meat-eaters (50-99 g/d), 4.67 for low meat-eaters ( < 50 g/d), 3.91 for fish-eaters, 3.81 for vegetarians and 2.89 for vegans. – Dietary greenhouse gas emissions

So, my reasons are colonic health and greenhouse gases. I have called this Nominally because while I have given up meat, if there is no other alternative I would eat some. I also had to eat all the meat in my freezer after I made the decision. That took about six weeks of occasional meals. My decision was made after returning from the M’era Luna festival in the middle of August.

I have had two moments where I just forgot! One day I went to the cinema after a run and my plan was to have a hot dog in the auditorium. I was queuing when it dawned on my I was vegetarian and I couldn’t have a hot dog. Well, my reader, bollocks to that. I ate two. The next “slip” was a week ago when a work friend brought in a pork pie to school and I just cut some and ate it. It took about five hours before I realised that I had eaten meat, when I kinda don’t. Oh well.

I don’t expect friends or people to make extra effort for me. If I go somewhere and there’s no alternative then I’ll eat meat. I’m not that fussed. It’s more a thing just for me.

One further, minor reason, would be that when going to music festivals it is best to spend as little time as possible in the portaloo. They tend to be smelly, dirty and quite horrific. A vegetarian diet over the course of the weekend contributes to reducing time spent in the cubicle. Eating meat extends the sitting time required.

The Worst Reason

This communication deals with some ideas I have been having recently and I hope I put my argument across well.

In life and society we sometimes give people special dispensation from our general rules because we see there are special reasons. We allow disabled people to park closer to shops, we allow single dwellers to pay less council tax, we allow the poor to pay a lower rate of tax, we allow the young and the old to have cheaper travel. You get the idea.

It is right that we have varying rules and that we shouldn’t treat everyone the same. I think this is right because of my moral structure and that there is evidence to show that these actions improve the quality of life for those people. The justification for these dispensations is good.

If you are reading this you are probably aware that I don’t “believe” in a god or gods and therefore do not follow any form of religion. See the communication directly preceding this one. As there is no god everything that hangs on this premise is mistaken. All of the rules and societal requirements we have are unjustifiable using religion, holy books or holy men’s rantings. Some religious ideas are good but they can be derived from a general principle of “do good” and “do no harm”, principles which are humanistic rather than from a sole religion. If your argument for behaving a particular way ends with the line:

It says so in this good book


My preacher/imam says so

then it’s time for you to appraise what else the book says.

I think it is wrong to make dispensations from our normal laws and rules for religious reasons. In fact, I think that dispensations for this reason are the worst form of dispensation and incongruent with a liberal society.

This communication and my view on these things was formed from the following events:

  • On a run one day I passed a building site. There were 4 people working on the site at the time and three of them had bright yellow safety hats on. The 4th person had a turban on. It would appear that he had special dispensation to wear this turban, probably for religious reasons. I do not understand this argument. If there is good evidence to show that wearing a turban gives as good protection as wearing a safety hat then I am ok with that but if the evidence doesn’t exist then why does religious requirements get a “free pass”?
  • In some places of work people ask for special dispensation to go to prayer at certain times during the day or they have rules about certain types of food. I do not understand why these religious reasons are special and can’t be questioned. Could I ask for dispensation from the canteen to avoid serving any form of pasta because I follow the Flying Spaghetti Monster? My argument for this is just as robust as any other religious argument.
  • I think it is morally wrong that dispensation is given to some abattoirs to avoid our rules on humanely  slaughtering animals because a religion requires animals to be killed in a certain way. If I can show you two slabs of meat, one slaughtered normally and one slaughtered using religious requirements and IF you can tell them apart then I would be seriously impressed. Mind you this still would not justify your reasons for wanting animals slaughtered inhumanely.

I am not using this communication to ridicule individual beliefs, oh, damn, I am! Oh well. Societies’ laws should be based on humanistic consensus and that is why we have a government and democracy here in the UK, for all its flaws. Over the last thousand years we have produced a decent liberal society even though we are a constitutional theocratic society because people who make the laws understand that religion should play no part in creating laws. As soon as laws are created for religious reasons we have lost our way [just read Leviticus].

If you want to use a religious reason to excuse a certain behaviour or to allow you to break the rules of our society then I will use the Church of the FSM to justify the rules I want to break. The argument is precisely the same. If you want to claim the FSM is not a REAL religion then I ask you to define what you mean by REAL religion.

Religion should play NO part in dispensation from laws and rules. It’s not an excuse.

Religion – Not An Excuse

Just in case some of you become offended at this then please consider what I have said. I haven’t called you stupid, I haven’t said you are wrong and I haven’t ridiculed your religion. I have said I don’t believe. My argument is that religion is not a reason for dispensation. Oh, look! I have given special dispensation to religious people in this post script. Tell you what: Your religion is wrong. It is not the truth. It is not the path to eternal life. Your preachers are wrong. It is not a reason for doing anything. There is no god. Get over it. You shouldn’t get special treatment because you believe in Zeus or whatever you call your god. Join our society and behave within its rules or leave.