There’s definitely overlap between the two but I think the fundamental problem with meat is one of indoctrination and cognitive dissonance. Even if you know a behaviour to be wrong it can be very hard to break free from that behaviour if it is part of the foundation of you and everybody around you. I consumed animal products for most of my life and for many years I considered animal products to be wrong but turning that belief into action is very difficult when you enjoy it and everybody around you is doing it.
I think littering is a good comparable: if littering was socially acceptable and encouraged, how many of us would litter? Probably the majority, even though the majority of us at this point in time accept that littering is wrong and we do not do it, and would look down on those who do. The consequences would be the same, all it takes is a shift in how others behave and how they perceive our behaviour to change how we behave.
For me personally the transition from meat eater to vegetarian didn’t involve any shift in beliefs, I felt the same way about meat for years before I stopped eating it, the only difference is the day I stopped eating meat was the first day I believed I could stop. I had up until that point considered it too difficult, I had considered it to be too fundamental to my existence and that was reinforced by everybody around me: I loved meat, I ate it for every meal, I couldn’t even begin to imagine how I could eat without it and everybody around me ate meat. Sure, it was wrong but if everybody around me is fine with it, and I enjoy it, and I don’t see the consequences of it, does it matter that it’s wrong?
I think if I were to go back and try to convince me as a meat eater to quit I wouldn’t focus on the ethical or environmental arguments, instead I would focus on how it is achievable and if I truly believe something then I must make an effort towards implementing that belief in my life. Either I believe meat is wrong and so I take action or I don’t permit myself to hold that belief because if I don’t take action on what I believe, do I actually believe it? Thinking about it in terms of taking action towards a goal is much more helpful than thinking about it as an absolute: if I believe something I do every day is wrong, I can permit myself to do it every other day… and then once I’m doing that successfully, I can cut down to twice a week: I’m making progress towards what I believe to be right, and that’s consistent with the beliefs I hold, and I’m doing it in a sustainable way.
Cognitive dissonance is hard to deal with but you might wish to try thinking about each decision to eat meat as an active decision. Don’t start from meat as the default, start from plant based as the default, and try to justify each decision to eat meat using the value it provides to you through enjoyment relative to the harm it causes. You might find that every other day you crave meat so much that you think you can justify the harm that day but over time you may well find that you can go longer and longer without it, and hey, even if you only manage to skip every other day, that’s still cutting your consumption in half. Likewise you might find that over time you’re able to swap out certain things, maybe you love bacon so much that an alternative isn’t possible but you might find that you very much enjoy Beyond Meat burgers and that allows you to cut your beef consumption down substantially.
The biggest change I’ve made is thinking about things in terms of harm and costs. I don’t think about “right” vs. “wrong” rather I think “does my personal enjoyment of the beef burger on this menu justify the torture experienced by the animal, and the harm to the environment?” and the answer so far has always been no. That has been very helpful to me (in many aspects of my life) because seemingly arbitrary “right” and “wrong” designations are easy to dismiss.
Anyway, as time goes on and meat alternatives become more and more realistic it is becoming easier and easier to reduce meat consumption while continuing to enjoy the same flavours and experiences. The Beyond Meat burger is just the start of what we’ll see over the next decade and already it is getting very close to indistinguishable. I think over the next decade as social attitudes shift we’ll see a lot of people move towards plant-based diets because it’s easy and encouraged by our social circles – so even if you don’t think you can stop eating meat today, just being open to the idea and willing to try alternatives is helpful.