" Within that system, there is life, and life is amazing. It lives, it dies, it begets more life. In order to do this, lifeforms consume other lifeforms (either while they are alive, or after they are dead). Life and death are two sides of the same coin, and suffering is sadly a necessary part of life; we cannot eliminate it, only try to limit it. "
I truly think from what you've said, that you may have been misled by someone, either family or outside influences.
You said 'suffering is sadly a necessary part of life, we can't eliminate it, only try to " limit it" , and you are right, but by your own admission, you want to 'limit suffering'.
So in this non hostile debate we are having, I say, you haven't fully considered the 'limit suffering' argument you are making here.
Animals suffer a lot more, than plants, plants have no nervous system, or brain to sense any pain networks, so there is no suffering with plants. Yes, thee is 'some' degree of suffering, but its extremely limited compared to the meat and dairy industry, and that is the lie they tell people to convince them to keep eating their products.
I've done my research, that is how I know these things, and I do this research to be objective and to verify I"m not giving inaccurate information when I ask people to consider being a veg/vegan, this way I know I'm putting the best face to the debate .
So, again if you truly want to limit suffering, plants is the only thing you should be eating.
Next, we know from clear studies that I will; show you now if you want to read it, that a ton less animals die in crop production than meat, and the biggest thing to remember here, is that over time we can prob. make that 'zero' suffering from crops, meat can never approach that, until of course we get 'lab meat' ;)
Here is the url that I think you would be wise to read through and make your own decision:http://www.animalvisuals.org/projects/data/1mc
I read entire thing months ago, and it seems to have used good sources , and is presented logically and professionally.
Other studies exist,but I chose this one, but you can search for others too.
Yes suffering IS contained in life, but a lot of that is necessary as part of the Earths 'ecosystems', and we are not a inherent part of that process as relates to 'food',. but man has injected themselves into it needlessly , at least current era man and all at the expense of the needless suffering of animals, who yes, are our literal equals. We all 'evolved' together, and we should respect all life and as you said and to repeat, do the least suffering.
What I'm hearing from you is what I hear from many who reject empathy and are firmly targeted on 'life is sufering', I hear it all the time, so at least I hope this opens your eyes a tad bit, because not all suffering is creating 'equal' , and to limit is, as you say you want to,is going to put you on a path to veganism.
One last thing, you might as well consider it strongly, because meat is on its way out, because the nasdaq is recommending that people stop investing in meat. Wouldn't you rather be on the side of history that stops meat ingestion for the reason of least harm, vs being told not to, for 'profit' reasons ? ;)