I was alerted to Joseph Mayton's latest piece on vegetarianism in the Arab world — Vegetarianism is not contrary to Arab culture — by Brian Whitaker, who comments further about on the issue in his blog.
Both Joey and Brian are vegetarians, and in fact I think Joey is even vegan and certainly very evangelical about his food ethics. I've discussed this issue with both of them in the last — only a couple of months ago with Brian in Beirut, as I devoured keba nayeh (spiced raw meat, one of my favorite Lebanese dishes) and he vegetable kebabs. I am obviously not a vegetarian, but am certainly sympathetic to some of the arguments against eating industrially-produced meat, and have been of the opinion that, in many parts of the world, those who can afford to often eat an excessive amount of meat. I am guilty of that myself at times, but generally — as the main cook in our household — keep a fairly reasonably balanced diet and often cook pure vegetarian meals. That being said, I love meat and see no reason to abandon it, although that is because I can afford to shop carefully for it and pay a premium for the best quality stuff (especially since I don't consume that much of it.) I'll happily forego factory chicken every day if I can have a delicious baladi bird (the equivalent of free-range) once a week.