First let me say I only recently stumbled onto your debate, so please don't attack me for having remained silent until now. I think that the absolute immensity of your "reply-fest" could have been avoided, though. How? Well if Stuart had made clear from the get-go that his argument rested on these 3 points:
1. Scripturally, God has provided animals for my use.
2. The freedom to eat meat is protected by law (at least for now).
3. The vast majority of people contemporaneously and historically
have eaten meat.
What is problematic about these points? Well, for starters, just because lots of people agree does not make something more justifiable. For instance, most canadians were opposed to Jewish immigration in the decades following the second world war, so it's right then that they were largely banned from entering the country? During the 1600s, the majority of people supported enslavement of "inferior" races, so slavery is justified, right? Well, no, because now more people are opposed to it. How could that have happened, since the majority was right? Well, people changed their minds. Slavery did not become "less right". It was always wrong, and people just began to realize this. (I know one of you has trouble with this type of argument. Comparing these two issues does not mean equating them, necessarily. It merely serves to prove the falacy of the argument "majority rules". It's not hard to grasp.)
Similarly, just because it is law, does not make it right. Examples abound, including the institution of slavery, before it was abolished, but here are a couple of others. (Again, I am not NECESSARILY equating the two, I am questioning the assumption that law makes "right".) In most western societies in the past, it was legal for a husband to beat his wife. In fact, there were laws implemented to "control" this accepted cultural practice. So we have the phrase "rule of thumb", which comes from a law which permitted a husband to beat his wife or child only with implements no thicker than his thumb. Well now, that's pretty "right", don't you think? How about when adulterers (well, actually usually only adulteresses) are stoned to death because the law demands it (still common today in some countries.) Is that right? (Grab for your bible, it knows the answer.)
Then we get to the "God said it was mine" argument. Well, how can we argue with a claim to absolute truth? You win Stuart, since your religious beliefs cannot be disproven by others, only disbelieved. I guess your god is not so benevolent though, since his stewardship recipe is destroying the planet, not "merely" the lives of a few dozen billion cattle, hogs, and chickens.
I'm sure many people (including many christians) would concede that the biblical arguments used to justify meat eating and the consumption of the planet are merely attempts to maintain the status quo, to keep life simple, to deny that humans are responsible for destruction and suffering throughout the world. Biblical authors had agendas, so did biblical translators, so do biblical interpreters. Even those qualified historians who are devout Christians will readily agree with this. Either revise what you believe from the bible or admit to yourself your god is a spiteful one. Which is easier? "God said we could." Get over it, and take responsibility for your own actions, instead of explaining it away with absolute truths. Bear in mind the broader picture, that when you dine on sirloin steaks (or burgers or tongue or roast or...) tonight, 10 people are likely going to go without food because the grain they could have eaten was used to fatten the cow your dinner came from. How about people forced out of subsistence farming to make room for yet another cattle farm, the offspring of which feed the addictions of western/northern industrial nations (primarily north america) which are so over-beefed they are dying because of it? How about the destruction of tropical rain forests to raise cattle when that soil base isn't even suited for cattle grazing? How many acres will disappear during your dinner time? Bear in mind the vast number of extinctions (thousands each year) which arrise solely because of the beef industry. It's ignorant to not make yourself aware of such consequences, and it's sick and selfish to WILFULLY remain ignorant. Stop arguing and do something about it. I know why people like Mike are arguing. They are fighting for what they believe in (do they stand to gain anything else?) Do you believe in all those consequences that arrise because you support the beef industry? If you do, your missing something in Life, if you don't then why argue? To defend your american/canadian/european right to ignorance? Sad.