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Ben Should Become a Vegetarian

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 5/21/2011 Category: Miscellaneous
Updated: 5 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 1,195 times Debate No: 16611
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (5)
Votes (3)




Ben should become a vegetarian for three primary reasons:
  1. A vegetarian diet has a lower environmental impact than one which includes meat.
  2. A vegetarian diet will help him achieve his health goals.
  3. A vegetarian diet will decrease strain on our relationship.

A vegetarian diet has a lower environmental impact.

It's quite simple: eating 2000 calories from plants uses far fewer resources than eating 2000 calories from animals, who had to in turn eat way more than 2000 calories of plants to create 2000 calories of meat. The reason is that not all of the food animals eat is converted to body mass, as much goes into heating the body and fueling its processes.

The waste of water by animals is even greater: "The data we had indicated that a beef animal consumed 100 kg of hay and 4 kg of grain per 1 kg of beef produced. Using the basic rule that it takes about 1,000 liters of water to produce 1 kg of hay and grain, thus about 100,000 liters were required to produce the 1 kg of beef."

Even if that calculation is on the high end, there is no way possible that the water ratio from plant to human is equal to the water ratio from plant to animal to human. Physics denies such a conversion.

Not only are land and water resources wasted, greenhouse gases are emitted into the air. "Shifting less than 1 day per week’s (i.e., 1/7 of total calories) consumption of red meat and/or dairy to other protein sources or a vegetable-based diet could have the same climate impact as buying all household food from local providers."

I mean, check out this awesome chart:

A vegetarian diet is healthier.

"The American Dietetic Association has released an updated position paper on vegetarian diets that concludes such diets, if well-planned, are healthful and nutritious for adults, infants, children and adolescents and can help prevent and treat chronic diseases including heart disease, cancer, obesity and diabetes."

Unlike the first point which is a moral obligation to promote public health, this one rests upon a personal commitment to oneself.

A vegetarian diet will make our relationship smoother.

In a practical sense, this will benefit you more than me, because when I go shopping, I already purchase only vegetarian foods. Changing your diet to become more similar to mine will make it easier for you to shop for foods we can both consume, instead of focusing on "hirs and his". This benefit will be strongest when we eat out. As it stands, restaurants which cater to your tastes rarely do to mine, but vegetarian-friendly restaurants typically have meat options as well (which comes in handy when dining with friends).

Also, there will be reduced moral strain. I'd know that we're trying to help make the world a better place together, as opposed to me bearing the load of not only my own choices but also trying to undo yours (which I can't avoid, as we live in the same house and our choices are tied to each other in many other ways as well).

Ultimately, once we're on the same team diet-wise, then we can be That Couple who are so Totally Vegetarian, and further our goal of making our friends gag at how cute we are together. Aww!



1. I don't consume much red meat to begin with and that is creating the largest issue on your first graph. You still consume dairy products and that creates a much larger issue (if I'm understanding the chart correctly) than how much chicken I eat (which would be more than my consumption of red meat by far).

You link to an article about the UN conducting a study on the environmental impacts of meat consumption, yet that is dated. The UN admitted to important flaws in the report ( and concludes instead: "efforts should be focused on "smarter farming, not less farming".

There will likely always be more incentive to refine our farming techniques and invent new geo-engineering technologies than to change our meat eating habits and so as a culture pursuing the former rather than the latter is a better use of time and effort.

2. That study is commenting on the question of whether vegetarian diets are feasible and noting those health benefits. That doesn't invalidate every other kind of diet.

3A. This is just as much an argument for you to become an omnivore again, as it is for me to convert to your diet. Our culture simply has more meat options and the practical strain argument would seem to lean in my favor.

3B. There is reduced moral strain when we recognize the realistic limits of what we can do. We are not in a particularly potent position of pushing forward for new geo-engineering technologies or farming techniques that will have the most impact on issues like climate change and resource management. We can promote education as local activists instead and when politicians are running on the right issues we can vote them in as well as collectively pressure for those policies.

3C. This is your most tempting proposal, but I'm afraid there are still plenty of ways to make our friends suffer under the tyranny of our joint cuteness. ;)
Debate Round No. 1


1. Focusing on only the CO2 aspect and ignoring the land/water resource aspects is misrepresenting my position. Even still, the supposed gaps in the UN report are about CO2 usage, which is completely addressed in the study you so casually toss aside because you already "don't consume much red meat" (an admission which would perhaps imply that making a move toward complete vegetarianism would be simpler for you than you would have the audience believe).

You say "there will likely always be more incentive to refine our farming techniques ... than to change our meat eating habits". And yet, you have yourself to partially blame for that, as you are part of the market demand for meat. "U.S. vegetarian food sales have doubled since 1998, reaching $1.6 billion in 2003. The vegetarian and vegan population is expected to continue its increase steadily". As people drop away from meat consumption, the market adjusts accordingly.

Allowing that not all animals have the same environmental impact, they all still necessarily have a greater environmental impact than eating plants only. Even "smarter farming" can't change the food chain, which shows that plants take energy directly from the sun, and animals (unless we've yet to discover some photosynthesizing cows) don't.

Also, I thought this looked cool:

2. I'm sweetening the deal by pointing out that a vegetarian diet won't stand in the way of your personal health goals, and may possibly even provide added benefits. Obviously this isn't something I can predict with 100% certainty, because the only way to be sure of how your particular body will respond to a diet is to try it out for real. But your body is also not entirely alien from other human bodies, so there is validity to pointing out that if you want to feel healthier, a vegetarian diet can be positive step toward that goal.

3a. I was more pointing out that the "practical strain" was more on that you tend to forget that I eat differently than you do. Not to insult you and say you always forget or that you don't care about me, but you do have a self-centered approach toward food acquisition source selection.

3b. Actually, as the CO2 study pointed out, "In general, much of this research has concluded that food, home energy, and transportation together form a large share of most consumers' personal impacts. Of these three, food represents a unique opportunity for consumers to lower their personal impacts due to its high impact, high degree of personal choice, and a lack of long-term 'lock-in' effects which limit consumers' day-to-day choices." Thus it makes more sense, from a moral strain perspective, to adjust personal eating habits before abandoning such changes in favor of activism. Also incorporating activism in the form of education and strategic voting would be the "above and beyond".

3c. Think about it: we could eat vegetarian spaghetti from the same dish, nibbling on one strand of pasta as it brings our noses closer together in a marinara-flavored kiss.


1. It is granted that meat products will continue to mean more resources are expended, but I'm not sure that has been shown to matter.

My "admission" about not consuming much red meat doesn't mean I need to change, since it implies I don't really need to go anywhere if there isn't a problem.

When you say I'm partly to blame for the incentive-scape, I agree. However I'm standing in a 90% majority even by that wiki's own numbers, by the most conservative estimate. That's excluding even the "vegetarian curious" numbers. Changing people's desires for meat is hard. Other options will be easier.

Even if I were to go fully vegan, I'd be forced to be equally realistic. I'd still probably have to conclude the efforts of myself and those like me would not add up to a significant solution.

2. I agree I probably need to eat more vegetables as an omnivore simply because I don't have much of a balanced diet as it is. I really hate vegetables. The veggies I like are either the least like most veggies (corn and carrots) or have to be so chopped up as to be indiscernible from the food I do like that it is mixed in (like salsa). But eating more veggies wouldn't necessarily mean I'd be eating less meat per se. It would probably just mean I'd eat more veggies.

I've not seen anything that has come out against a well balanced omnivore diet as far as health goes. All food pyramids still include meat as far as I know. So that's probably a losing argument for your side.

3A. I would say I have a very pragmatic, stripped down, independent approach to diet since I don't like wasting my time on unnecessary efforts. I expect by default everyone to feed themselves as competent and capable adults. Incidentally you happen to have a "let's cook an elaborate meal and all eat together" approach which is fine. I suppose I could refuse to cook with you and eat with you in order to maintain the symmetry of my approach and have considered that often. I'm allowing you to make your choices and splitting the difference by accommodating you to an extent. Even if that means waiting to eat, preparing food I don't necessarily like that much, having tons more dishes on a regular basis, and having you complain that I don't do the dishes I didn't want to create, because I know I don't like doing the dishes. And you don't like doing the dishes either in principle, and yet most of the dishes are generated from your approach to meals. terms of practical strain...we'd have to adopt my policies instead of yours. But I don't expect you to change here.

3B. That study also says, "Shifting less than one day per week's worth of calories from red meat and dairy products to chicken, fish, eggs, or a vegetable-based diet achieves more GHG reduction than buying all locally sourced food."

This seems to imply much more to large families who are cooking elaborate meals on a daily basis. This goes back to point 1 where I don't eat much red meat anyway and most of it is consumed one day a week on my "free day." I also don't consume much in the way of dairy throughout the week and most of it is again consumed on Saturday. So this debate is a huge red herring as though everyone has to change when some of us just aren't ranking high on the scale to begin with.

Most of my elaborate meals are meal options you have chosen and you are a vegetarian. So again, I'm already just by occupying social space and time "doing my part" by going with the flow. Dieting is already hard and I often fail on my own terms. I'm not going to make it harder for the sake of nearly hopeless global problems I'm not going to solve.

3C. Like we couldn't do that anyway!
Debate Round No. 2


1. What other options? If they're so awesome, why aren't they accessible to people like ourselves?

Your last bit seems to rely upon "but it's still not a big enough impact to help, so why bother?" By eating meat, you're actively doing something; by not, you're passively not doing something. Say a house in Joplin was severely damaged in the tornado. You not doing something isn't really going to help, it seems, so why bother? But does that mean you're okay to throw a rock through one of the windows and smash it up more? Or what about a store that lost most of its inventory - do you steal an item because they won't notice the difference anyway? There'd be one way those actions are acceptable: if you have rock-solid proof that the house is a lost cause and will be demolished anyway, or the store owner said he's cutting his losses and to just take what you like. ("Oh crap, I didn't think you were using that house anymore" doesn't cut it, in other words.) As you don't seem to have a strong evidence-based platform upon which to stand free of guilt (that is, nobody's given us the "all clear" to go ahead and eat meat without remorse), I'd conclude that you must be compartmentalizing your ethical knowledge from your emotional decision-making process.

2. All those food pyramids? Um... no. The current official food pyramid itself says "choose more fish, beans, peas, nuts, and seeds". That's quite clearly a non-meat majority. Also, check this out:

3a. Either you don't know what "food acquisition source selection" means, or you're deliberately changing the subject. I'm saying it sucks when you really want to eat out, and then I have to choose between putting my foot down and demanding you choose a more accommodating restaurant to desire, or else suck it up and "enjoy" yet another supper of french fries and a cheap-o salad (or if I'm really lucky, onion rings and baked beans). If you were vegetarian too, those other options wouldn't even be on your radar, and so we could both be enthusiastic about a food source which actually caters to both our diet. Or else you could develop far more empathy for the vegetarian lifestyle. Though I have a feeling if you did that, you'd simply find conversion to vegetarianism to be the natural course of action.

3b. Again with the changing the subject. I wasn't talking about red meat, I was talking about which aspects of people's lifestyles have been proved to be the easiest to customize. You seem to think that it's actually easier to go out of your way to be a political activist than it is to simply buy different food at the store (and that somehow the prier affects more change than the latter). Last I checked, the grocery store is FULL of foods containing no meat. Walls and walls of foods. If only political activism were as easy as buying the ingredients for a bean burrito with fresh salsa. But it's not. If I'm going to buy the "vegetarianism is the harder path to take toward change", I'd better see a viable and convincing easier path laid out before me, and so far I haven't seen anything but a dream and a prayer.

3c. So get on it! I haven't been woo'd with romantic noms in years.


1. The other options I speak of are technological breakthroughs in resource management across the board. Too few people are going to change their eating habits in time, the issue will necessarily blow up on us as it has to in order to enact real change, and the concept here I'm pointing out is a form of "strategic failing."

The cultural conversation might more easily shift from "eat differently" to "how should we expect our legislatures to invest".

2. A "non-meat majority" on the food pyramid doesn't make the minority go away any more than this would justify making laws that help only white people because another ethnicity is in the minority.

3a. Simply alternating between veggie and meat friendly places would be a good compromise since as I pointed out the strain is symmetrical. I'm not aware of all the other veggie centric options when going out to eat. I do sympathize with the plight of having limited options on many menus.

3b. I'm not necessarily talking about me, but it would be easier to be more pro-active on the political front than change my desires for meat consumption.

Those who are able, driven, and willing should definitely pursue this particular issue in the realm of political change. Important decisions on how to spend our tax dollars to make the world a better place need to be made. There are many big political issues (perhaps too many) that require this kind of attention and those who have the capacity to specialize in each one need to make certain kinds of change amicable to the average person who may share the same values to whatever degree, but can't reasonably be expected to always do something about it.

3c. ...
Debate Round No. 3
5 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 5 records.
Posted by TheNerd 5 years ago
If this stuff tasted any good, I'd totally switch over for it:
Posted by BangBang-Coconut 5 years ago
Let me start out by saying that I was on the Con's side from the very beginning, so I may be a bit biased in my ultimate decision. But all Con would have had to do to convince me was say "I don't want to be a vegetarian".
The only thing I felt Pro had going in their favor was their first contention about how meat used more resources like water and grain; but when Con Pointed out the fact the Pro still ate dairy products (meaning vegetarianism doesn't solve for this problem.) I couldn't even see any reason to vote Pro

C2 was also refuted by Con

C3 Aww
Posted by WarOnERROR 5 years ago
@Nerd: lulz
Posted by TheNerd 5 years ago
I would like to substitute this link for the last one I listed in Round 2:
3 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
Vote Placed by Cliff.Stamp 5 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: Pro could not carry the BoP, and aside from the Lady and the Tramp reference did not bring a novel argument, inb4 Cody "should" also implies ought which is more than just reason. 1 pt Con.
Vote Placed by detachment345 5 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: con refuted pro's contentions
Vote Placed by BangBang-Coconut 5 years ago
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Total points awarded:23 
Reasons for voting decision: Comments