Personally, the main benefit of defending vegetarians and vegetarianism on these forums is I've gone from a partial vegetarian, eating only a little chicken, to a full vegetarian, lots of cheese and eggs, though.
I think the message of the buddha is to eat as little meat as you can be comfortable with, some of us have felt certain health benefit to eating meat, some of us are so addicted to meat that we couldn't imagine going without it, but the killing and eating of animals does have a karmic negative, the Buddha taught that, so eat less if you eat a lot, thats a bigger step than me eliminating the little I was eating, All food production involves the killing of some small creatures, but eating farmed animals involves the killing of a lot more small creatures and the actual animal you are eating as well, think of cows and pigs as you would your dog or cat. They didn't ask to be on your plate. and you don't need their distressed hormones running through your body.
18 years ago I made one of the most important decisions of my life and entered a local Cambodian Buddhist Temple as a temple boy and, for only 3 weeks, an actual Therevada Buddhist monk. I am not a scholar, great meditator, or authority on Buddhism, but Buddhism is something I love from the Bottom of my heart. It has taught me sobriety, morality, peace, and very importantly that my suffering is optional, and doesn't have to run my life. I hope to give back what little I can to the Buddhist community that has so generously given me so much, sincerely former monk John