Lately, many vegans have been sharing and citing a new study led by researchers from Harvard Medical School, regarding the harmful effects of meat.
Most of the findings are not really new, for example that its consumption is associated with higher risk of Type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, respiratory disease, neurodegenerative disease, certain types of cancers, including those of the colon and rectum, and premature death. However, this research is presented as the first longitudinal study to examine how changes in meat consumption over time may influence these risks.
After years of contempt, arrogance, revocation and disinterest, the relative openness and readiness of the fogyish medical establishment during the last decade, is a very refreshing change. It is surly highly beneficial, in ethical terms, that there are less obstacles in the way of people considering changing their abusive lifestyle. Once there are more and more doctors and nutritionists who are supportive or at least not opposing veganism, the easier it is for many to make the morally obligated change.
However, as tempting as the findings may seem to many vegans, all with good intentions obviously, they have been missing a very important word the study mentions – red.
This study, like many others, is mostly about the harmful effects of consuming specific kinds of corpses. It claims that: “overall, a decrease in red meat together with an increase in nuts, fish, poultry without skin, dairy, eggs, whole grains, or vegetables over eight years was associated with a lower risk of death in the subsequent eight years.”
But don’t get this wrong, the main problem here is not that as unfortunate as it is, this study is not as vegan friendly as some may suggests it is, but that while recommending to cut down the consumption of pigs’ and cows’ bodies, it recommends to cut more fishes and chickens.
When vegans bump into these kinds of reports, they see another proof that they are right. They scream that they have been telling this for decades now! And that this is another scientific proof so no one has excuses. But meat eaters are wired differently. When they bump into these kinds of reports, they see a recommendation to eat more chickens and fishes.
The use of egocentric and anthropocentric arguments in veganism advocacy is notoriously popular in the Animal Liberation movement, and we have a multimedia article about that problematic issue called Even the Most Selfish Argument. But this is not the main concern we discuss in this post. Besides reinforcing speciesism and anthropocentrism by appealing to humans’ interests instead of nonhumans’ most basic needs, the recruitment of the health issue may practically cause more harm than good, even in the short term, by increasing the consumption of the already poorest animals on earth – chickens and fishes.
Humans tend to look for the least demanding “solution” for problems, so offering them to only reduce some of their consumption, of “only” some of the animals they consume, in order to improve their health, would probably end in some of them reducing some of their ruminants’ flesh consumption which is the most harmful in health sense, and probably switching to other kinds of flesh.
Generally speaking, findings about the harmfulness of animal products should be more reasons to go vegan, but since humans love compromises, don’t mind inconsistency and avoid definiteness, it serves as more reasons to eat fewer cows and pigs, and more chickens and fishes. This obviously means more suffering individuals, as chickens and fishes are much smaller animals. It’s estimated that the flesh of 200 exploited chickens amounts to the flesh of one exploited cow.
The vast majority of humans don’t ask themselves “should I stop eating meat?”, but if anything, they ask “which kind of meat causes the least harm to my own health?”, and the answer unfortunately prompts more chickens and fishes consumption. So not only that the connection between animal consumption and humans’ health doesn’t convince them to go vegan, it may convince them to consume more animals.
The status of chickens is already at the bottom, the status of fishes is rock-bottom and the status of fishes who are fed to farmed fishes humans consume is beneath rock-bottom – claims about the harmfulness of “red” meat consumption can make it all even worse.
When not the suffering of individuals, nor the number of suffering individuals, is what matters, the use of anthropocentric reasons such as humans’ health or environmental concerns may end up hurting more animals, in both the long and short term.
But don’t get this wrong, this is not activists’ fault. Activists are not arguing that it is ok to eat chickens and fish, and they don’t tell humans that if they have to choose between cows and pigs or chickens and fishes, they should eat the later. Activists are explaining to humans that they are all sentient and none of them should be eaten. The problem is not that activists are giving humans the wrong message, the problem is that activists are giving humans a chance.