Wow, this is actually the first online discussion on meat consumption I've seen that didn't evolve into a "yes-no-yes-no-debate" with lots of insults after two posts.
If you really have the time and money to take up a humanitarian cause, I would worry about saving the <insert your preferred group of humans living in terrible conditions> before worrying about how we treat our food.
This point has been brought up several times. However, worrying about animal rights does not
mean you don't worry about anything else anymore. On the contrary, from my experience people who care about animal rights are usually also concerned with human rights while those who can't be bothered can't be bothered with anything. (Generalizing here.) I went vegan about nine months ago (had been vegetarian for a few years before) and it has made me so much more aware of a lot of stuff. Like: "If I don't buy wool and leather because it's cruel to animals, how can I buy a cotton sweater that has been dyed by children who get cancer because it's poisonous?" Result: I try to buy most of my clothes second-hand. Better for the environment, cheaper (!), you never see anybody walking around in the same clothes. I am active in an amnesty international group. I try to buy fair trade stuff if my budget allows it. No, I'm not a saint. I also buy stuff because it's cheap or because I like it. I spend money on stuff for my pleasure instead of donating it. Point is, I try to think about the consequences of my actions.
I feel offended by the notion that animal rights activists don't care about humans.
As for the arguments "It's only animals." and "It has always been like this." - if things always stayed the way they were women still wouldn't be allowed to vote. Black people would still be considered inferior. Gay people would still be considered scum. I realize that women, black people and gays still have to face an awful lot of discrimination but still we've come a long way.
How is "It's only animals" different from "It's only a fag"?
"I only buy free-range eggs." And what about the eggs that are in sweets, cakes, pasta etc.?
I recommend living vegan for two weeks. Not even because of animal rights issues. Just because reading ingredient lists makes you aware of how much stuff you eat you had no idea about.
I know that veganism may not be the path for everyone. I just wish people were more conscious about their choices.