Jenna Woginrich:

I would come back to meat eating, and I would do it because of my love for animals.
Every meal you eat that supports a sustainable farm changes the agricultural world. I cannot possibly stress this enough. Your fork is your ballot, and when you vote to eat a steak or leg of lamb purchased from a small farmer you are showing the industrial system you are actively opting out. You are showing them you are willing to sacrifice more of your paycheck to dine with dignity. As people are made more aware of this beautiful option, farmers are coming out in droves to meet the demand. Farmers markets have been on a rapid rise in the US thanks to consumer demand for cleaner meat, up 16% in the last year alone.
It’s a hard reality for a vegetarian to swallow, but my veggie burgers did not rattle the industry cages at all. I was simply avoiding the battlefield, stepping aside as a pacifist. There is nobility in the vegetarian choice, but it isn’t changing the system fast enough. In a world where meat consumption is soaring, the plausible 25% of the world’s inhabitants who have a mostly vegetarian diet aren’t making a dent in the rate us humans are eating animals. In theory, a plant-based diet avoids consuming animals but it certainly isn’t getting cows out of feedlots. However, steak-eating consumers choosing to eat sustainably raised meat are. They chose to purchase a product raised on pasture when they could have spent less money on an animal treated like a screwdriver.
I’m sorry my vegetarian friends, but it’s time to come back to the table. You can remain in the rabbit hole and keep eating your salad, but the only way out for good is to eat the rabbit.
Who, exactly, is she talking to here? Most dedicated vegetarians I know consider it a moral act to refrain from killing and eating other animals; they just extend the circle of compassion, as the saying goes, to include pigs, cows and poultry in addition to the dogs, cats and toddlers most of us would never dream of slaughtering. The meaning is in the act itself, not the hypothetical result. Woginrich’s justification for meat-eating would seem a bit too “ends justify the means” for them, allowing a little slaughter now in the vague hope of ending up somewhere down the line with less overall. So who, then, are these squishy vegetarians who are fine with eating meat as long as they can believe that the animal lived a flourishing life of eudaimonic well-being before willingly placing its throat against the butcher’s knife, yet apparently don’t have access to an organic grocery store or farmer’s market? Are they more or less interchangeable with those who have the disposable income and progressive inclinations to choose to pay more for food out of environmental and ethical concerns? Aren’t they already buying free-range meat? Do all of them put together come anywhere close to the number of people who buy their steaks and ground beef at Walmart? Shouldn’t she be proselytizing to them instead?
The problem is not that a minority of hardcore vegetarians are selfishly refusing to support local family farms, the problem is that – to take the US as a lone example – a nation of 300 million people accustomed to eating cheap, convenient meat three times a day cannot be adequately supplied by said farms. This seems like the same mindset that imagines we can simply make a like-for-like exchange of oil, coal and natural gas for solar, wind, and hydroelectric power without ever having to ease up on the accelerator or turn off the lights.