Employment | Cost



82. Vegetarians cause a lot of inconvenience for restaurants and airlines.

Yes, we do. We also inconvenience our families and friends. Worse still, we show insufficient appreciation.

Most restaurants have vegetarian and possibly vegan options. Given notice, their vegan meals can be impressive. Yet it’s inconvenient to prepare one meal rather than mass-produce several meals. They may accept this because they value a good name or wish custom despite inconvenience.

We too readily complain when airlines fail to provide requested meals, a special service at no extra fare. Most major airlines rarely fail; small ones rarely deliver.

A large aircraft might carry 400 people. Of all possible meals (vegetarian, vegan, low fat, diabetic, kosher, halal, etc) 20 may be specials. The other 380 passengers have a choice of, say, beef or chicken. Two varieties for 380 people, perhaps five varieties for the other 20. What a pain we are!

Many people in developing countries don’t comprehend a non-meat-eating human. We mustn’t expect their world of crowded millions to change its orbit as soon as we arrive. There’s always something to eat, even if just fruit or bread.

Yet not just vegetarians and vegans, but all minority groups cause inconvenience. Examples are obese people for clothing manufacturers and retailers, builders for neighbours and cyclists for motorists. We are all in some minority group that inconveniences the majority.

Vegetarians are above average in health, yet subsidise non-vegetarians’ extra medical care.* Inconvenience is both ways.

If we eat meat, we cause ultimate inconvenience for animals. We are part of the process that tortures and kills them.

* Obesity and associated illnesses cost Australia $1.2 billion a year. Department of Health and Ageing report, October 2005. (There are few obese vegetarians.)


83. If we were all vegetarians jobs would be lost and it would ruin the economy.

Every major change causes lost jobs. Yet most changes create other opportunities. A drift from ‘snail mail’ to email cost postal jobs but opened up a host of IT jobs. If we all became vegetarian (hardly an imminent event to cause you concern, but environmental pressures may eventually precipitate it), meat industry employment would disappear and the demand for heart specialists diminish. To compensate, the fruit and vegetable industry would expand and supernumerary heart specialists could devote their talent to other health areas.

Most employers and employees have to adjust, especially as technology forges ahead. There’s no reason why the meat and dairy industries should be cocooned from change.

If all were vegetarian this would help, not ruin, the economy. As vegetarians require far less medical attention, there’d be huge savings on Medicare and more for other needs.

Meat workers have higher cancer rates, three times greater general injuries and 35 times greater repetitive stress injuries than those in other manual jobs. Would you like a description of some of their ‘jobs [that] would be lost’?

‘His face is splattered with gray matter and blood. He is the ‘knocker’ ... A ‘sticker’ does nothing but stand in a river of blood, being drenched in blood, slitting the neck of a steer every 10 seconds or so ... Many slaughterhouse workers make a knife cut every two or three seconds, which adds up to about 10,000 cuts during an eight-hour shift.’

Naturally, these repetitive actions lead to injuries. If these workers were transferred to the sanitation crew they might avoid injury, but have other disadvantages. This crew ‘faces a mess of monumental proportions ... They get under tables and conveyor belts, climbing right into the bloody muck, cleaning out grease, fat, manure, leftover scraps of meat.’

Maybe we are a lot better off without those jobs.


84. Don’t you care about farmers?

I care about all people, but I don’t care for the actions of some, including cattle and sheep farmers. I’d prefer that they farmed crops; so would the environment and our health.

Whenever there’s progress in social standards, there will be losses in jobs. Rather, we should say changes in jobs. Those whose farms raised cattle or sheep for slaughter can change to raising vegetables. A fraction of the land area is required to produce the same amount of vegetable food as meat. That’s a lot less environmental destruction, including that of trees as well as water quality from faeces pollution.

Yes, I care about cattle and sheep farmers. And I’m sure we both care about starvation in countries such as Bangladesh, India and Mozambique. If we were all vegetarians, we could look after both farmers and starvers. The same amount of land presently devoted to cattle feed would easily feed the world’s human population.


COST Back to top


85. It’d cost more for food if I gave up meat.

If it did cost more, would that matter if it improved your health? Isn’t good health high on everyone’s list of priorities? Giving up meat in favour of fruit and vegetables is a huge plus.

If healthy food meant paying more, you might be able to rearrange your finances to give more priority to food.

However, it wouldn’t cost more to give up meat. It would cost you less. Further, the more naturally you eat, i.e. fresh fruit and vegetables rather than processed vegetarian foods, the more you save and the better your health. It’s even better still for both reasons if you grow your own vegetables.

A research nutritionist at George Washington University calculated that on a vegan diet a family of four could save enough to buy a new car every six or seven years.