You don’t have to be a vegetarian or vegan to love animals.
Personally, I am a vegan. I became one for health reasons, I like it for the ethical reasons. Before I was a vegan I was a vegetarian, which I became purely for ethical reasons. I didn't feel comfortable consuming animals, and I am horrified by the sheer amount of cruelty in the meat industry. I believe that everyone should be outraged by animal cruelty because it is an issue that is morally sickening and just flat out wrong. However, I became a vegetarian and a vegan for my own personal reasons because it is a personal choice.
Since becoming a vegan, and even before becoming one, I had heard about how vegans had a bad rap because some could act very superior and treat those that weren't vegans like they were monsters. It is a great thing to be a vegan because animal cruelty is such an important issue, and it is incredibly unnecessary for us to treat them with so much cruelty when it has been proven that there are alternatives. However, it does not mean we have to cut off using animal products completely.
I fully believe that being a vegan or vegetarian is a great thing that more people should consider. But I am also fully aware of how some in the vegan community can take their ethical views and alienate people who eat meat. This is not right.
I have seen slogans that say that “you can’t love animals if you eat them.” This is an incredibly ignorant and unfair thing to say. I didn't become a full vegetarian until I was 18 and I didn't become a vegan until a couple of months ago. But I have loved animals all my life. I have supported organizations that rescue them, I have rescued a number myself, and I know plenty of people who eat meat who have done the same and more.
It is not eating meat that is the problem. Humans eating meat is a part of the circle of life. Animals eat other animals. People always seem to forget that humans are also animals. There is nothing wrong with eating other animals. The thing is, humans can be cruel and greedy. It is okay for us to eat animals; it is not okay for us to mistreat those animals before we do so.
The problem is not eating meat. It is eating too much of it--which is not good for our environment--and allowing food industries to beat, confine, and basically poison the animals we eat. This is not healthy for anyone. Humans do not have to stop eating meat. What they can do is be more conscious of the companies they purchase it from, and how much they consume.
What you can do as a meat eater, as an animal lover, or as both (because you can be both), is make sure to buy meats that say free-range, with no added hormones, pasture-raised, grass-fed, organic, or with humane certifications. I know that there are those that argue that more ethical products are more expensive--but the thing is, ethical products are also far healthier, and by supporting their businesses, it will create an incentive for more companies to go the ethical route. It will expand the market for ethical products, which will eventually lead to lower prices.
And not all ethical products are more expensive. I try to go vegan not just in what I eat but also in the products I use, since I am against animal testing and have been able to find plenty of products that are reasonably priced. And, finding them was not that difficult.
Unfortunately this shift is easier said than done--but it can be done. It's important, however, to not write off those who consume animal products because it is a part of the circle of life. The focus should not be trying to turn everyone into a vegan, but instead on creating more incentive and support for ethical products.