There is plethora of causes why one could become a vegetarian. For me, one of biggest driving forces was a number of ethical reasons. I have been vegetarian for over 6 years now and during that time I have been thinking about this topic quite extensively and I came across many comments from my friends. I wanted to share some of them and why I think that some of them are great and definitely worth pondering on and analyzing.
Needless to say, ethical vegetarians are not eating meat because of ethical reasons. They simply don't want animals to get slaughtered and some of them genuinely believe that animals should be treated the way humans are or at least close to it. Even ethical vegetarians do divide in their beliefs. Some simply want animals to live in decent conditions and want them to die without suffering, some of them don't want them to be slaughtered at all. In my humble opinion, by far the most ethical ones are fructarians, then vegans and eventually laco-ovo vegetarians. Fructarians only eat things that fall from a tree or a bush, they don't eat animals products of any kind. Vegans do not eat any animal products i.e. dairy products or eggs.
The reason I became a vegetarian is because I strongly believe that I am not in position to take animals live just for pleasure of it. I wanted to see if I am able to live and nourish myself without animal protein and I have succeeded up to a certain point. It is necessary to remember to replace protein that we normally obtain from meat with protein from plants. Protein is an important ingredient and currently human organism is unable to create it on its own. I say currently, because through the course of evolution in the long term, I reckon it would be possible even to change that. As a matter of fact, there are animals that do produce protein on their own. It is a matter of genes in DNA sequence. Assuming that a vegetarian diet is generally low in protein, mind you that in the long term it can be fixed through the course of evolution or by DNA programming (genomics).
I have experienced lots of problems with vegetarianism. It is like you open a pandora's box. One mental shift leads you to many other thoughts. Should I kill insects? Should I not wash myself like Buddist monks, that way saving bacteria from dying. In a sense it is impossible to survive without killing an organism of some sort. Viruses, bacteria are all organisms. Life and death seems to be deeply rooted in the way the world is structured. So, we are all killing all the time, we have to kill to be able to live, if we don't kill bacteria in our organism then that bacteria will win the struggle and eventually we might even die due to a sickness caused by their frivolous playing tricks habbits. So we established that killing is inevitable, then this raises a question how do we divide organisms into the ones that we think we can kill and the ones that we think we can't. Should we base this on size or on their intelligence? Is it ethically more justifiable to kill a mosquito, than it is to kill a dolphin. Undeniably, dolphins are smarter than mosquitos. That is one possibility but as Peter Singer [a bioethician] says applying this rule is like applying the same principle to human beings. If a certain person is retarded that might actually mean that they will be less intelligent than the smartest monkey. Should this justify that we can kill them and eat them or perhaps enslave them?
You see nature has no mercy, a lion chases its prey to have a dinner. Lion does not understand that he/she could spare the pray. Lion does not have conscious mind. You do, so think about using it. Most people I met in my life don't really care about this at all. Ignorance is truly a bliss and people know it very well. I know it as well because I also need to switch off, if I was thinking all the time I would go mad. Anyone would.
One of my discoveries is that providing enough of vitamins and fatty acids is really heard on one's own without understandning more about nutrition. I used to have omega-3 deficiency that resulted in certain unpleasant things, let me put it this way. So, now I don't forget about omega-3 and A-Z vitamins for vegetarians and I am guilty of sometimes consuming sea water fish for animal protein. So as you can see I am not an angel.
Why it is indeed an interesting topic, because you see in the past, women couldn't vote and black were slaves. Why did we change that? We have altered this through evolution.
I often hear a comment that people love meat and they would never give it up for the taste of it. That is for me worst possible argument one can come up with, because it is like saying I like black slaves and I think to have a slave at home is really good and I would never give up a slave.
Many people do bring up the criteria of conciousness, in a sense that animals do not fear death and it turns out that some animals do fear death actually. There was a monkey that through sign language said that she/he was afraid of to die. Being afraid of death can be classified as a solid criteria of conscioussness.
Another very prepostrous thing is that people actually buy clothes made from furr. For instance, seals are slaughtered just for furr. This is the sickest really because honestly, it is not that hard to buy products that are artificial and at the same time you can use them, so leave poor animals alone.
Testing drugs on animals is also a tricky topic I must admit. If we do believe in inteligence based hierarchy that means that sacrifice of mice should allow humans to live longer. I do believe in layers and humans are indeed smarter [some humans unfortunately have inteligence of monkey :( or worse] but in general they are just more clever. So I personally support testing drugs on mice as long as it cannot be tested in any other way and is necessary to find a cure for a serious or not so serious sickness. That is just my opinion.
Perhaps one of the most interesting comments I have ever heard from one person is that it might perhaps be better to let them live and kill them so at least they can enjoy life a little bit. I must admit that this statement has really caused me to scratch my head. It is a very strong argument, the only problem is that you are the one that kills, so an animal has no choice but to be slaughtered. We are all gonna die anyway. This brings up an interesting topic and extremely controversial as well, whether in future we might need to have obligatory euthanasia for retired people as they keep living longer and longer. So you are 80 and you go to some clinic... Gosh.... I am scared but that only shows how difficult ethical problems are to solve and that right or wrong as a concept is changing over time.