As an ex-meat eater and current vegetarian (for the sake of right speech, I should caveat this by mentioning that I still consume seafood and dairy...for now), I believe this is something you have to see for yourself.
Familiarize yourself with how factory farming works, how the animals are raised, what their living conditions are, how they are slaughtered. There are many books and documentaries about it. Don't just stay at the level of abstraction and argument -- really take a look at the details.
You may find, after this, that you feel less at ease about purchasing and consuming meat. Maybe not -- everyone's different. But it's not something one can really argue
about. You kinda have to see what the reality is and draw an informed conclusion.
For starters, you might have a look at this:
http://entertainment.timesonline.co.uk/ ... 047926.ece
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Let’s say what we mean: animals are bled, skinned, and dismembered while conscious...Typically, cattle are led down a chute to a “knocking box”. Here, theoretically, a steel bolt is shot into the cow’s brain. Sometimes the bolt only dazes the animal, which either remains conscious or wakes up as it is being ‘processed’.” “Processing” continues with wrapping a chain around the animal’s leg, and hoisting it into the air. Then, it is moved to a “sticker”, who cuts its throat. If the knocking hasn’t done its work, then, as one slaughterhouse worker put it: “They’d be blinking and stretching their necks from side to side, looking around, really frantic”. Then they move on to the “head skinner”, where the skin is peeled off the head of the animal. Some cattle, not the majority but a non-negligible minority, find themselves still conscious at this stage. Then, on to the “leggers”, who cut off the lower portions of the animals’ legs. At this point: “As far as the ones that come back to life go . . . the cattle just go wild, kicking in every direction".
Here's a bit of info about dairy cows:
To produce milk, they have to be kept pregnant. What happens to the calves? They are taken from their mothers, usually within twenty-four hours, and are destined for a short, miserable life, quite possibly in a veal crate, and a death whose general contours follow those described above. So, a vegetarian who drinks milk and eats cheese indirectly supports both the veal industry and a horrific form of slaughter.
Debunking free-range/cage-free/"humane" production methods:
“Cage-free” means nothing more than “not in cages”; which is compatible with them being crammed with tens of thousands of other birds into a broiler shed to the point where they are unable to move, debeaked and drugged.
I understand meat is hard to give up -- used to be I couldn't imagine a meal without it. Even breakfast
Ya know what, though? After more than a year of going "vege", I don't miss it at all.