I struggled with this for a while. I always assumed that all animals died in horrible conditions with their companions being killed right in front of them. I thought that by eating the flesh of that animal we are consuming the pain, stress, and fear as it approached its executioners. I still feel that this is true, but I have seen more humane ways of raising and "harvesting" animals in the past year, and have come to realize that while I don't eat flesh, some people need to, and if the animal can be raised sustainably and finished quickly and humanely, it might not be as bad as I once thought.
But as for factory-farmed animals raised on feedlots - why would you ever want to put that horribly negative energy into your body? Into your temple? How is this still legal? Why do people still eat this junk? (ahem...because its CHEAP)...
Not only are you consuming the pain and death of that factory-raised animal, you are consuming all of the pesticides, toxins, and antibiotics stored in its cells which have accumulated due to its poor diet high in GMO grains and soy. Animals (including us humans) are supposed to be eating wild food, not processed grains and grounded-up animal parts. There are so many parasites and contaminates on food today that it astounds me that more people aren't aware about it.
I simply believe that you can not be for a greener environment and still eat animals raised on factory farms. Im sorry if this offends anyone, but do the math. And again...why would you want to consume the residual pesticides and antibiotics in their system? Think about all the stress released into the tissues of that animal as it heard the cries of its companions being murdered directly in front of it. NO THANK YOU.
I initially got into vegetarianism because of animal rights. If I were to see myself as a truly peaceful person, I knew that I could no longer participate in eating meat. My views have evolved slightly, but I still abstain from flesh and now simply consume high quality eggs and grass fed dairy products.
There are lots of gray areas here, and it is up to you as an individual to do what you feel is best for you. You know that animals raised unnaturally have both higher levels of disease, stress, and pesticides in their systems, and by buying those products we are only positively reinforcing the insane practices of those who profit off of such brutality. If you are still into eating meat or any animal products, find local farmers and buy directly from them. You will be supporting your local economy, saving money, and insuring that you are getting a high quality food. Tell them that you want pastured eggs and grass fed dairy!!!
Another thing to consider...a natural ecosystem like a prairie supports many more animals than just the cows or goats grazing its surface. Thousands of small mammals, insects, and BILLIONS of microorganisms live within it. When we turn that soil into land for raising crops, everything is destroyed and one crop is planted. How many animals are killed because of the production of soy burgers? Think about that before touting the virtues of pure veganism. For us to live, other things must die. Such is the circle of life.