If You Live in New York, You Should Be a Vegetarian

lisa simpson vegetarianWithin our current food system, there’s no moral choice but vegetarianism: there’s absolutely no defense of eating meat that comes from the factory-farming system and winds up in supermarkets or restaurants, fast food and otherwise. But that’s not to say that eating meat is inherently immoral; participating in the food chain is natural, and if someone lives in nature—say, on a farm, where they raise animals well and kill them for food without getting sentimental about it—then fine: let them eat meat.

The thing is, most of us don’t live in nature: we live in cities and suburbs and have air conditioning and central-heating units and cars and get our food delivered to stores in packages; we trade legal-tender currency for our basic needs, money we make in offices doing weird unnatural things like typing on computers. I don’t consider such a disconnect from nature inherently bad: it’s a different way of living that has its benefits, among them that we live more or less in comfort and safety (which is why we form societies!). My only point is that if we don’t live naturally, why argue we have an obligation to eat that way?

Consider it a regional approach to food ethics. It’s so fucking easy to be a vegetarian in most parts of New York City: tofu and beans are cheap and easy to find in grocery stores; fruits and vegetables and whole grains are widely available; there are even entire restaurants that are vegetarian (you know, for special occasions), not to mention a plethora of vegetarian options at every other one. There are processed fake-meats to satisfy cravings. You have no reason to eat meat here, except because you like the way it tastes, which is a terrible way to determine your ethical choices.

Still, I recognize that meat has been tied pretty tightly into our culture, and that it can be difficult just to give it up. This month is Vegetarian Awareness Month, and yesterday was World Vegetarian Day, and so I encourage you to try not to eat meat. If you fail, that’s ok; just try again. People who say, “I could never be vegetarian” are people making excuses for why they don’t even have to try. But if you assume responsibility for your actions, if you take your moral self seriously, you do have to try. Trying is easy. You don’t even have to do anything—all you have to do is not do something.

 Follow Henry Stewart on Twitter @henrycstewart


  1. I work at a farmer’s market in Brooklyn, and we sell meat. Since all the meat is from NY state, grass fed, and free range (the pigs as much as free range can be), I see no problem in eating this meat. Its regional, well cared for, and a healthier meat.

    I try not to order too much meat in restaurants, especially chicken. Chicken is so abused, and the majority of our nation’s supply contains arsenic. If you can purchase meat from a local farmer, and and find ethical choices for meat I don’t think you have to go completely vegetarian.

  2. This has to be the dumbest, most confusing argument for vegetarianism I have ever heard. There are so many holes in your reasoning I don’t know where to begin.

    I have no idea what you mean by “we don’t live naturally, why argue we have an obligation to eat that way.” So am I supposed to eat based on my unnatural surroundings? I live in Brooklyn. Does that mean I should pick gravel off the sidewalk like pigeons or rummage through trash like squirrels?

    “Consider it a regional approach to food ethics.” Ronnybrook is located upstate and I buy their milk at my local farmers market every week. But if I were to by meat from a regional farm, that’s bad because…? Why are you suggesting we have different rules for meat?

    “Tofu and beans are cheap and easy to find in grocery stores” – do you know why? Because they aren’t organically-grown, nor regional, and are likely chock-full of GMOs. There are a lot of regional bean farms you should support, not Goya.

    How about this: We all just eat responsibly, support our regional farms (meat and non-meat) and do so based on our own internal morals – not by what we read or where we live.

    [Note to the author: if you are going to write something with a hidden agenda – work on hiding it better.]

    • It’s kind of hard to accuse someone of a “hidden agenda” when their thesis is stated clearly in the headline. Unless there’s another agenda here that is so well hidden that it’s not addressed in any way at all? That would be quite a feat.

  3. It seems to me that he really wants to say: we should all be vegetarians because eating meat is bad. Not because we live in NY. With such an unfounded and deceptive argument and a ridiculously demanding headline, that’s the only conclusion I can draw.

  4. You could get free-range, grass-fed meat from responsible farms, but then you’re still killing an animal whose meat you don’t need, which reasonable minds could consider a problem…

    • So then don’t say that we should be vegetarians because of where we live! Say we should be vegetarians because of our own personal reasons. It’s none of my business what you put in your body and vice versa.

      • Well, no, I won’t say that, because as I explained above I think we should be vegetarians because of where we live.

        • I’m trying very hard to understand your argument. Say I have family that lives on an isolated farm where they raise pigs. They not only sell the meat but they use it to feed themselves out of necessity because, ya know, farmers tend to not make a lot of money. Is it ok for them to eat meat?

          • I have to say I agree with Josie. I’m confused. Should I be vegetarian because I live in NY and therefore don’t have access to regional meat or should I be vegetarian because killing animals is bad?

            BTW, I was a vegetarian for 7 years and went back to eating meat because of a myriad of reasons that are, well, no one’s business but my own. And yet I still take my “moral self seriously.”

  5. Your entire post makes no sense…you clearly have not done much research and only base your opinions on your own beliefs. As stated in a previous comment but in much nicer words…mind your own business, don’t judge people based on your own beliefs and keep your fork off my plate. Thanks.

  6. All you are doing is pushing your own anti-meat agenda while using absurd reasoning to not eat it. There is no need to eat meat with the availability of other protein options but you come off as pretentious and an overall douchebag.


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