In all likelihood, the closest I'll ever come to being vegan is my nine-year stint abstaining from red meat. I know that there are a lot of people who can make very passionate, very reasonable, very convincing arguments for vegetarianism, and even veganism, but all of my best intentions collapse when I'm staring down a medium-rare cheeseburger or almond-crusted tilapia.
For a few years there, it seemed as though The Guardian's George Monbiot was a better man than I. I have no idea if he was keeping to a vegan lifestyle himself, but he was very clear in his assertion that veganism "is the only ethical response to what is arguably the world's most urgent social justice issue." Famine around the world could be alleviated if the west weaned itself off of meat--which we consume in disproportionate amounts compared to the rest of the world--and dedicated more of its farmland to growing fruits, grains and vegetables for human consumption rather than for livestock feed.
Today, I salute Monbiot for his humility, because he just did something we should all be more willing to allow people to do and admitted that he was wrong. He gave a well-researched argument an honest listen, and walked away convinced that being carnivorous really can be both awesome and socially responsible.
"I no longer believe that the only ethical [course of action] is to stop eating meat," Monbiot wrote Monday, as part of a much larger and more fascinating article. There's no word as to whether he spent the rest of the day hungrily bobbing for chicken fingers at the nearest pub, compensating for needlessly spending eight years on the moral high road, but while I investigate that, you should read the whole article, which makes some pretty reasonable statements about the way the western world produces meat.