In my previous post I gave some statements to support the claim that G-d doesn’t forbid us to be vegetarian. Here I want to address the four most common objections I hear when I say I’m a vegetarian.
You have to eat meat on Shabat / holidays !
I have written about this before (both about holidays and shabat). The commandment is actually to "rejoice", which is read to mean have meat and wine, because this is what people usually enjoy. If you do not enjoy eating meat, you do not have to.
You have to eat meat when sacrifices are resumed in the third temple / messianic age !
There are opinions that sacrifices were a temporary thing, because people at the time wouldn’t have accepted a religion without them, this was the way to serve G-d that they knew (e.g., Maimonides in Guide to the Perplexed 3:32). This would mean that as we do not need them anymore, there wouldn’t be sacrifices in the third temple.
But even if there will be sacrifices and it would be an absolute requirement to eat them – this does not mean you have to eat meat now. Just like you don’t have to bring sacrifices now.
Read more: Frequently Asked Questions: About Animal Sacrifices and the Messianic Period
G-d wouldn’t have given us all the kashrut laws if he didn’t want us to eat meat !
G-d also gave us laws about slavery, yet we do not practice slavery anymore (and I don’t think anybody really thinks we should go back to doing it). G-d gave laws about war, yet peace is the ideal we should strive for.
Also, the effect kashrut laws have is that people are more mindful of eating meat. Kashrut restricts the possibilities (only kosher species, only properly slaughtered) and makes eating meat lots more complicated (not with milk, waiting times, different dishes etc). It looks more like G-d wanted to make it more complicated to eat meat!
Vegetarians put animals on the same level as humans / want to give them the same rights !
Maybe some do, but why would one follow from the other? Jews don’t eat pigs, does that put them on the same level as humans? Most people would never eat their pet dog or cat, does that mean they put them on the same level as a human? Judaism forbids causing pain to animals, does that put them on the same level as humans?
Some people are vegetarians for health reasons, some simply don’t like meat, some don’t want to bother with kashrut, some just follow a new diet trend, some want to save money, some protest the current state of meat production, and so on. Not all people are fundamentalists that want monkeys and goats to run for president!
Read more counterarguments in Eighteen reasons Jews think they should not be vegetarians (and why they are wrong) by Richard H. Schwartz.