Guest kenshi64

Is it ethical to eat meat?

170 posts in this topic

Well, I just got into this interesting argument with one of my juniors, who happens to be a vegetarian, so before i quote her, please no figthing and cussing just respecting opinions and hard core debate!!!

P.S.- she's a friend this was all in good humor

Friend:"Non-vegetarians eat ****"

Me: All vegetarians eat is greens, way to go goats

Friend: "you take lives...."

and we know how it goes on endlessly from there :P

What are your opinions?

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I didn't go through millions of years of evolution to get to the top of the food chain so I can eat lettuce :P

All seriousness...I don't understand vegetarians. Nothing against them, just don't understand what became so unethical about killing a cow we raised in our own backyard, not like we're poaching (can you poach cows?) random animals to eat them and they are't going extinct anytime soon.

"you take lives" and you kill plants, which is a primary consumers food...bad argument >.>

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I hate animals so I don't care about killing them for our meal. anyway farmers have spent lots of money to take care of them so they have the right to use them as they like i.e. kill and sell them. I agree with Drake, vegetarians also eat plants. it's stupid btw, all living things eat each other (animals eat other animals and plants) so I think meat eaters are not bad people.

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I didn't go through millions of years of evolution to get to the top of the food chain so I can eat lettuce :P

All seriousness...I don't understand vegetarians. Nothing against them, just don't understand what became so unethical about killing a cow we raised in our own backyard, not like we're poaching (can you poach cows?) random animals to eat them and they are't going extinct anytime soon.

"you take lives" and you kill plants, which is a primary consumers food...bad argument >.>

Hahaha! I'll quote you next time! :D Yes its likes getting dividends on stock, if you invest you have your right to the returns from that investment. The plants thing I agree, but because it can't Moo or bark and can't make puppy eyes I assume they think its less living or something. Or so i think, benefit of doubt vegetarians

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Question: how long has she been a vegetarian? I ask because when you first turn vegetarian, you get kind of a superior feeling. You kind of feel like you're better than everyone around you because you've made the decision to not eat meat, blah blah blah.

Her point that non-vegetarians eat **** is valid since most cuts of meat in some places are bulked up or some form of steroid has been given to the animal. Take chicken for example. Halal chicken in particular. Some suppliers use proteins from four-legged animals so that the chicken will retain more water to make it look bigger. This protein could easily be from a pig, and thus the unsuspecting Muslim could be breaking one of their fundamental beliefs without actually knowing it. Then there's the issue of pollution- since animals are being reared solely for meat, think of all the waste gas being pumped into the atmosphere. Granted, some breeding farms take the precaution of a silo to separate and store the gas to produce power, but this can be expensive. Also, being a vegetarian isn't solely about 'saving lives'- some vegetarians chose to be so because they simply don't like meat (like me) but others find it easier to 'buy local' if they're a vegetarian since the local markets offer better quality produce than the EU-regulated junk in superstores.

And in regards to evolution- our only ancestors ate meat when they could get it. For the most part they ate vegetation because it was easier to find and easy to grow. The Neolithic period (I think) was when early humans began to settle and build farms.

Edited by HGBellamy
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I didn't go through millions of years of evolution to get to the top of the food chain so I can eat lettuce :P

All seriousness...I don't understand vegetarians. Nothing against them, just don't understand what became so unethical about killing a cow we raised in our own backyard, not like we're poaching (can you poach cows?) random animals to eat them and they are't going extinct anytime soon.

"you take lives" and you kill plants, which is a primary consumers food...bad argument >.>

I definitely like your first sentence :P. I, of course, being a proud omnivore, learning towards carnivore (:P), think meat eaters are fine. We need nutrients that are best gotten from meat in our diets. Vegetarians aren't TOO bad, but I agree with the plants thing. Just because it can't make noise, doesn't mean it's not alive. If nobody was to eat meat, just think how our world would fall apart :| Various industries would fail, and over-population would occur. I think eating meat is just natural :)

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Even though I love myself some Bacon :D I have a problem with 'Factory Farming.' The conditions there are appalling. Hundreds of animals put into an area that could fit inside my bathroom. The animals there have horrible lives, even if the farm is 'certified organic'.

With the large amount of people we have in the world, it's one of the few ways we can actually feed the growing population. I've heard of other ways to feed people that doesn't take miles and miles of farmland for factories of chickens, but of course governments don't usually pay attention to that

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I eat meat and I don't think I'm a bad person. :P

In all seriousness though, I eat meat because when cooked properly it can be healthy and delicious. I could never be a vegetarian because I don't think I could give up meat. My friend has been one for over a year now. The decision to eat meat is personal; some eat it because they don't want to support the "factory farming" as JoeGuff put it and others do it for health reasons. I don't like how all the animals are kept in poor conditions and raised solely for their meat, but I like meat too much to stop.

On a related note, what do you all think about veganism (refusing to eat or use anything animal-derived)? Do you know any vegans?

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I eat meat and I don't think I'm a bad person. :P

In all seriousness though, I eat meat because when cooked properly it can be healthy and delicious. I could never be a vegetarian because I don't think I could give up meat. My friend has been one for over a year now. The decision to eat meat is personal; some eat it because they don't want to support the "factory farming" as JoeGuff put it and others do it for health reasons. I don't like how all the animals are kept in poor conditions and raised solely for their meat, but I like meat too much to stop.

On a related note, what do you all think about veganism (refusing to eat or use anything animal-derived)? Do you know any vegans?

I do, he was my physics teacher actually. But only the eating part. I just still don't understand how this can be argued at all. I don't think pure veganism is possible. How do you COMPLETELY avoid animals with everything you do...

I mean...pudding has gelatin in it...derived from animals bones...that's rather obscure and how would you avoid this without thoroughly researching everything you eat? O.o

Clothes you wear? Sheep?

Meh, whatever. I still can't bring myself to judge anyone because everyone has the right to eat/believe what they want. My only problem with anyone who puts themselves in a "special" group is when they flaunt it around and then give rather absurd and/or false (not saying they all are) arguments to prove some sort of superiority or, in cases involving veganism, how horrible I am for eating this amazing steak...

And in regards to evolution- our only ancestors ate meat when they could get it. For the most part they ate vegetation because it was easier to find and easy to grow. The Neolithic period (I think) was when early humans began to settle and build farms.

We can get it all the time now...

I'm not sure what you're trying to say here honestly.

All I was saying about evolution was we've gone through all of it (past those early ancestors and neolithic period and all that good stuff) to now. And now we're on top. I don't see the point in going BACKWARDS to when we ate tons of vegetation when we have access to meat so easily...

Edited by Drake Glau

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And in regards to evolution- our only ancestors ate meat when they could get it. For the most part they ate vegetation because it was easier to find and easy to grow. The Neolithic period (I think) was when early humans began to settle and build farms.

We can get it all the time now...I'm not sure what you're trying to say here honestly.All I was saying about evolution was we've gone through all of it (past those early ancestors and neolithic period and all that good stuff) to now. And now we're on top. I don't see the point in going BACKWARDS to when we ate tons of vegetation when we have access to meat so easily...

I think Drake's phrase has received applause from a majority of the floor. However, I wish to challenge it. In my opinion, the argument behind it relies on the following assumptions:

  1. The more trophic levels we consume, the better it is for us (in other words, there is a cost in consuming less trophic levels);
  2. Human food preference is purely dependent on the factors of evolution;
  3. There is an abundant supply of meat to meet the demands of the global population at the present and in the future.

  1. So what if we are at the top of the food chain? I do not take biology but to my understanding, as long as nothing is able to eat you, you are at the top of the food chain. Under these circumstances, you would still be at the top of the food chain if you ate grass and nothing was able to eat you. So you certainly would not be moving 'down' the food chain. Do you know of any animals which would rely mainly on humans as a source of food if we all became veterinarians? I'm also quite surprised that the environmental aspects of vegetarianism or at least a reduced carnivorous diet have only been mentioned once. I don't think the issue deals with 'animal ethics' or 'plant ethics' as some have mentioned above; I would like to focus on the environment and sustainability.
  2. Going back to Drake's phrase, he states: "I didn't go through millions of years of evolution..." Now assuming that he uses "I" as a personification for 'the human race' or, to be more accurate, 'Homo sapiens which evolved from the Hominidae family' it becomes: "[Homo sapiens] didn't [evolve] through millions of years of evolution to get to the top of the food chain so [they] can eat lettuce." Now, my question is: What is so bad about that? Lets analyse this highly praised phrase once more. If we reverse the negatives we get: "[Homo sapiens] [evolved] through millions of years of evolution to get to the top of the food chain so [they] can eat [opposite of lettuce, anyone?]." One of things that I think needs pointing out is that the diet of an animal through the process of evolution reflects whether or not that diet is advantageous to that particular animal. We must also understand that the habitat in which the animal lives in affects the abundance of food which, in the long run, affects the diet of the animal.
  3. Yes, in the past our ancestors' diets changed from being vegetarians to becoming omnivores; thus implying that this was advantageous. However, this does not mean that such a diet is advantageous for us at present. We are currently living in a 'habitat' where resources are rapidly being depleted. The global population is still steadily increasing and as of present there have not been any major breakthroughs in agricultural or livestock technology or management which is capable of meeting the increasing global demand for food. I was quite alarmed when Drake stated that access to meat is "easy". I guess its a matter of which part of the world you live in but I'm sure in most places, meat is still regarded as a luxury. I read in the papers today that Hu Jintao was going to make the battle against rising pork prices in China one of the government's first priorities. What I am trying to say is that the justifying meat eating through evolution does not really work. Evolution is about adapting to present conditions. Could vegetarianism not be the way forward to creating an eco-friendly and sustainable world?

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I don't understand what would make eating meat a moral action or how it would make someone a good person. What does eating meat contribute to the functioning of society? Personally, the answer I came up with was nothing. However, when I ask myself what does not eating meat contribute to society and how well it functions I can think of a few things.

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We had this discussion in TOK. We basically concluded that you are consuming something that was once alive no matter what, so in the end you are doing the same injustice. There are many animals that eat meat anyways, so why shouldn't we? The thing that sets us apart in the animal kingdom is our intelligence and ability to adapt, so why does it make it wrong to raise animals for food? (granted there is a lot of mistreatment of these animals in the US and I'm sure other places too; the concept doesn't bother me but I haven't looked into the facts of that enough to develop a strong enough feeling)

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You guys are so full of sh1t sometimes. (Most) Vegetarians don't eat meat not because it was once alive, but because it was once conscious and can feel pain. If you want to justify this to yourself at least stop making fallacious, irrelevent, and, frankly, retarded arguments that have nothing to do with anything.

I'm not a vegetarian, but I'm (hopefully) moving in that direction. I think meateaters are more weak than bad people, if you see what I mean .. anyone who doesn't recognize that it's unethical is lying to themselves or deluded. Arguments in favour of vegetarianism are clear: the horrible conditions of the animals, their pain during slaughter, etc. Arguments in favour of eating meat are (for most of us) convincing: it tastes good. And we're used to it.

Biologically, we do not need to eat meat to survive. Fact. Lions eat meat, but they do it out of necessity (ever seen a lion eating grass?) -- and we have no necessity, only selfishness. Watch Food Inc. Ignorance I can forgive, but not selfishness.

I didn't go through millions of years of evolution to get to the top of the food chain so I can eat lettuce :PAll seriousness...I don't understand vegetarians. Nothing against them, just don't understand what became so unethical about killing a cow we raised in our own backyard, not like we're poaching (can you poach cows?) random animals to eat them and they are't going extinct anytime soon. "you take lives" and you kill plants, which is a primary consumers food...bad argument >.>

What if we raised humans in our backyard and killed them for food? They have an interesting flavour. Plans aren't conscious and they don't feel. Cows have miserable lives under terrible conditions only to be slaughtered in places so thick with blood in the air they flee in terror at the smell..

I hate animals so I don't care about killing them for our meal. anyway farmers have spent lots of money to take care of them so they have the right to use them as they like i.e. kill and sell them. I agree with Drake, vegetarians also eat plants. it's stupid btw, all living things eat each other (animals eat other animals and plants) so I think meat eaters are not bad people.

I used to like you, but now I just think you're an idiot. Sorry. I hate idiots, so I think eating them is okay, especially when so much of my tax money goes to pay for their education and stuff.

We had this discussion in TOK. We basically concluded that you are consuming something that was once alive no matter what, so in the end you are doing the same injustice. There are many animals that eat meat anyways, so why shouldn't we? The thing that sets us apart in the animal kingdom is our intelligence and ability to adapt, so why does it make it wrong to raise animals for food? (granted there is a lot of mistreatment of these animals in the US and I'm sure other places too; the concept doesn't bother me but I haven't looked into the facts of that enough to develop a strong enough feeling)

Again: this isn't about eating something that was alive. There are no negative consequences to eating a tomato to the earth, except maybe depriving insects of their meal. If animals eating meat justifies our eating meat, then rapists raping justifies our raping. It's wrong to raise animals for food for the same reason that it would be wrong to raise humans fr food. And I love the arrogance of this statement: "I haven't looked into the facts of that enough to develop a strong feeling" -- exactly. How can you make up your mind without knowing the facts? Like I said above, watch Food Inc. And grow a pair of balls, please.

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Well my opinion is that the ethics of eating meat are moot. If you think it's unethical to eat another animal, good for you, if you don't, good for you. I think that eating other animals is a natural thing and to be honest, I don't find it has any ethical implications. If an animal is well treated for its life and given a clean death with barely any suffering, I think that's more than you'd get from nature (not that many of these animals would even exist in nature, cows are so stupid...). I think that the main reason you don't kill people is to do with consciousness, personhood etc. and I don't think that the animals we eat have that - if they ever show signs of it, I'm not eating them any more.

The main bit which I think people ought to think about (and it's the argument for many vegetarians) is the welfare of the animal and its impact on the environment. Factory farming is disgusting and the way many animals are treated is disgusting, and for that I think humans have a lot to answer for. However you can react to this not only by becoming vegetarian, but also by being more discerning about what you buy. For instance, free range chicken as opposed to just the cheapest one, if you can. It doesn't eliminate people still buying the cheapest ones, but then neither does vegetarianism, they're both just a form of boycotting.

As for the impact on the environment, it needs to be at a sustainable level. Crazy methane production and cutting down all the trees to raise cows = bad for the environment. So, buy local meat. Again, it's like vegetarianism in that it's a boycott of something you disagree with, so the effect from an ethical standpoint is the same.

It's possible (via my reasoning, at least!) to behave in an ethical way but still eat meat. I think we all ought to be aware of what's really happening and how animals are treated etc., but I think that everybody making conscious decisions about what they buy and how would have a similar impact in terms of stopping unpleasant practises. Vegetarians then take it a step further and either dislike meat (a surprising number just don't like the taste :blink: at least amongst those I know) or reject the idea that we would kill other creatures when we can survive on an alternative. Which way the ethics of that particular part goes, I'm not sure. Personally I don't disagree with it; animals eat each other in nature, we eat other animals. We may be advanced to the point that we can now disregard this as a necessity, but it doesn't make it wrong.

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Well my opinion is that the ethics of eating meat are moot. If you think it's unethical to eat another animal, good for you, if you don't, good for you. I think that eating other animals is a natural thing and to be honest, I don't find it has any ethical implications. If an animal is well treated for its life and given a clean death with barely any suffering, I think that's more than you'd get from nature (not that many of these animals would even exist in nature, cows are so stupid...). I think that the main reason you don't kill people is to do with consciousness, personhood etc. and I don't think that the animals we eat have that - if they ever show signs of it, I'm not eating them any more.

The main bit which I think people ought to think about (and it's the argument for many vegetarians) is the welfare of the animal and its impact on the environment. Factory farming is disgusting and the way many animals are treated is disgusting, and for that I think humans have a lot to answer for. However you can react to this not only by becoming vegetarian, but also by being more discerning about what you buy. For instance, free range chicken as opposed to just the cheapest one, if you can. It doesn't eliminate people still buying the cheapest ones, but then neither does vegetarianism, they're both just a form of boycotting.

As for the impact on the environment, it needs to be at a sustainable level. Crazy methane production and cutting down all the trees to raise cows = bad for the environment. So, buy local meat. Again, it's like vegetarianism in that it's a boycott of something you disagree with, so the effect from an ethical standpoint is the same.

It's possible (via my reasoning, at least!) to behave in an ethical way but still eat meat. I think we all ought to be aware of what's really happening and how animals are treated etc., but I think that everybody making conscious decisions about what they buy and how would have a similar impact in terms of stopping unpleasant practises. Vegetarians then take it a step further and either dislike meat (a surprising number just don't like the taste :blink: at least amongst those I know) or reject the idea that we would kill other creatures when we can survive on an alternative. Which way the ethics of that particular part goes, I'm not sure. Personally I don't disagree with it; animals eat each other in nature, we eat other animals. We may be advanced to the point that we can now disregard this as a necessity, but it doesn't make it wrong.

As far as the ethics of eating meat goes, it's fine to respect each others choices, but there's a difference between watching someone bury their head in the ground or castrate themselves (or pray five times a day and believe in a super-Dumbledore who lives in the sky and impregnates people without their permission or knowledge) and watching people do something unethical (like painting important places pink or murdering someone and eating them). You think murder is fundamentally wrong (I hope); why are human lives more important than animals'? I personally like dogs (and cows) as species much more than most humans. Dogs have tails, in fact, which we distinctively lack. But there are Chinese people that eat them.

I mean it took me a long time figuring some of these things out. I kept trying to mathematize it and say, is it better to raise an animal for its meat under humane conditions and let it go gently than not to breed it at all? Because it's true, if we didn't breed cows much fewer of them would exist (though saying these ones wouldn't have been born is meaningless, there are no equivalences; none of these ones would've been, only some other ones). But it's not really about the pain of death or the living conditions of animals (though these are important too); it's what it costs them. We implicitly believe in the sacredness of life, but why only human life? Animals are conscious beings with needs and desires too; we're separated from them only by the complexity of our brain. I'm not even sure that's true, after reading some of these posts (...).

Most people would be averse to eating the dogs and cats that are their pets because their lives have some meaning for them; we don't extend cows and chicken the same courtesy simply because we don't know anything about them, and we wallow in our blissful ignorance. That's wrong. You can eat meat and be aware that it is unethical (most of us do unethical things consciously) but saying it isn't is simple cowardice.

PS - do you boycott fast food restaurants? Because they're like, cheap-sad chicken/beef all the way.

Edited by Daedalus
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As far as the ethics of eating meat goes, it's fine to respect each others choices, but there's a difference between watching someone bury their head in the ground or castrate themselves (or pray five times a day and believe in a super-Dumbledore who lives in the sky and impregnates people without their permission or knowledge) and watching people do something unethical (like painting important places pink or murdering someone and eating them). You think murder is fundamentally wrong (I hope); why are human lives more important than animals'? I personally like dogs (and cows) as species much more than most humans. Dogs have tails, in fact, which we distinctively lack. But there are Chinese people that eat them.

I mentioned in the previous post that I think this bit is personal, and I did so purely because I think there is no answer. It's one of the truly relative aspects of ethics (although usually I'd say that relativism is a bunch of BS because it's ridiculously permissive and illogical) in that there's really no type of evidence or real rational argument you can use. I've thought about my own life and my idea of what it means to live - and I've concluded that, for me, the real thing I feel is important about people is being able to comprehend death as more than just an absence. To be scared of it, to consider it, to think what lies beyond it and to impact on other people who can do the same. There's a level of self-awareness which hugely magnifies the role of death for people. For instance, most people would be happy to put their cat out of their misery, but if somebody you loved very much were in hospital and suffering from an equivalent sort of illness which they might recover from but would probably be hugely miserable afterwards - could you put them to sleep? I don't think it's how much their life means to you as also how much their life means to them. An animal doesn't understand death in the way a person does (or they show no evidence of it). It's that understanding of death and the self-awareness which allows them to figure the impacts of it that I think makes it different. Death for an animal is not suffering in the same way as death for a person, except for in physical terms. It's the mental terms which I think make me draw a line and consequently to apply that to real situations, to say that the death of an animal is a different sort of event from the death of a person.

The closest we can get to putting a human 'to sleep' (which I would willingly do for any pet I loved very much and believed they were in pain) is human euthanasia - but the difference is that it impacts not just on us as witnesses, but also on the individual in a mental as opposed to solely a physical (loss of life) sense, and therefore it is their decision in a way that it is not an animal's decision. The ability to comprehend death in advance, and its implications, separates humans and animals in my opinion. Whether others would agree with me is, as I said to start with, relative.

And I don't eat at fast food restaurants, nope. Or buy cheap eggs! Although admittedly that is as much to do with the taste as with ethics. Perhaps if the two didn't go hand in hand, I would find it much harder.

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As far as the ethics of eating meat goes, it's fine to respect each others choices, but there's a difference between watching someone bury their head in the ground or castrate themselves (or pray five times a day and believe in a super-Dumbledore who lives in the sky and impregnates people without their permission or knowledge) and watching people do something unethical (like painting important places pink or murdering someone and eating them). You think murder is fundamentally wrong (I hope); why are human lives more important than animals'? I personally like dogs (and cows) as species much more than most humans. Dogs have tails, in fact, which we distinctively lack. But there are Chinese people that eat them.

I mentioned in the previous post that I think this bit is personal, and I did so purely because I think there is no answer. It's one of the truly relative aspects of ethics (although usually I'd say that relativism is a bunch of BS because it's ridiculously permissive and illogical) in that there's really no type of evidence or real rational argument you can use. I've thought about my own life and my idea of what it means to live - and I've concluded that, for me, the real thing I feel is important about people is being able to comprehend death as more than just an absence. To be scared of it, to consider it, to think what lies beyond it and to impact on other people who can do the same. There's a level of self-awareness which hugely magnifies the role of death for people. For instance, most people would be happy to put their cat out of their misery, but if somebody you loved very much were in hospital and suffering from an equivalent sort of illness which they might recover from but would probably be hugely miserable afterwards - could you put them to sleep? I don't think it's how much their life means to you as also how much their life means to them. An animal doesn't understand death in the way a person does (or they show no evidence of it). It's that understanding of death and the self-awareness which allows them to figure the impacts of it that I think makes it different. Death for an animal is not suffering in the same way as death for a person, except for in physical terms. It's the mental terms which I think make me draw a line and consequently to apply that to real situations, to say that the death of an animal is a different sort of event from the death of a person.

The closest we can get to putting a human 'to sleep' (which I would willingly do for any pet I loved very much and believed they were in pain) is human euthanasia - but the difference is that it impacts not just on us as witnesses, but also on the individual in a mental as opposed to solely a physical (loss of life) sense, and therefore it is their decision in a way that it is not an animal's decision. The ability to comprehend death in advance, and its implications, separates humans and animals in my opinion. Whether others would agree with me is, as I said to start with, relative.

And I don't eat at fast food restaurants, nope. Or buy cheap eggs! Although admittedly that is as much to do with the taste as with ethics. Perhaps if the two didn't go hand in hand, I would find it much harder.

Good post.

It's too late for a long, satisfying reply, and I guess maybe this is one of those personal things. I love animals. I like seeing how dogs and cats come to like each other, especially if introduced young. I like the easy companionship between humans and their pets (hate that word, though) and I love how elephants mourn their dead. I don't consider myself a spiritual person but I guess I see some sort of balance between the elements of life in nature, and it's one we've upset, as a race, for personal profit. That's where mass-farming and airtight packaging and airplane delivery comes from.

But I was thinking recently about people born with serious mental disabilities - the people we're no longer supposed to call retarded, although that used to be a technical term - and it occurred to me that regardless of what they are capable of seeing or understanding, we anthropomorphize them. That sounds cruel, but it's true - we want to see shadows, little fragments, of our own selves in them, no matter how disabled they are. Putting them down at birth is an option most of us wouldn't consider and maybe that's part of the why. Maybe that's part of why I can't feel good about killing animals - because I want to see them as some smaller version of myself, and the essence of right and wrong is to act in a way that is congruent with what you expect of others.

So when I see a spider on my covers at night, I put it outside my window. Why kill it, why end it's life, when I lose so little and it gains so much from it's continued existence? That's why I think eating meat is wrong. Because it's not out of necessity but out of selfishness - out of our ability to disregard a lesser creature's life - that we do it. To gain so little, at such a cost...

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I don't see whether or not you eat meat as an ethical issue really. We are omnivores, so fulfilling or omnivoric (or whatever you call them) tendencies doesn't seem to me to be unethical. I find it unethical however when animals are raised in cruel conditions, in factory farms, for instance, and mass-bred to live awful lives, and then killed inhumanely.

In truth, in buying meat from the butcher or supermarket, wherever you buy it from, the animal is clearly already dead, and not eating it isn't going to bring it back to life; if you don't eat it, someone else will. And while sure, being a vegetarian decreases the demand for meat, it doesn't do it on such a scale that is effective, or that makes a difference.

If I went to a restaurant where they had an animal running around in a pen or something, and it was on the menu, to be killed there for you to eat it, I would sure as hell not order that piece of meat, because I AM sentencing it to death. But considering the meat is already dead, and also that it's really a significant part of the human diet, I don't think myself unethical for eating meat.

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I don't see whether or not you eat meat as an ethical issue really. We are omnivores, so fulfilling or omnivoric (or whatever you call them) tendencies doesn't seem to me to be unethical. I find it unethical however when animals are raised in cruel conditions, in factory farms, for instance, and mass-bred to live awful lives, and then killed inhumanely.

In truth, in buying meat from the butcher or supermarket, wherever you buy it from, the animal is clearly already dead, and not eating it isn't going to bring it back to life; if you don't eat it, someone else will. And while sure, being a vegetarian decreases the demand for meat, it doesn't do it on such a scale that is effective, or that makes a difference.

If I went to a restaurant where they had an animal running around in a pen or something, and it was on the menu, to be killed there for you to eat it, I would sure as hell not order that piece of meat, because I AM sentencing it to death. But considering the meat is already dead, and also that it's really a significant part of the human diet, I don't think myself unethical for eating meat.

Fallacious argument ... i.e. if people were keeping slaves, and you were at a slave market, and you knew people would buy these slaves so your own actions would make little difference to them, would you be justified in buying them? This is counterargument #1 -- other people's unethical behavior doesn't justify your own.

When you buy meat coming from an animal that was treated badly, you're subsidizing - and hence encouraging - this behavior. That won't make the past better, but it might lessen how much worse the future gets. Imagine if the large section of India's population that is currently (effectively) vegetarian began to eat meat... Counterargument #2 is your actions do make a difference, and if everyone justifies their actions by your theory, the status quo is maintained, whereas the accumulation of small decisions can make very large changes.

Might be worth reading Thoreau's On Civil Disobedience btw. Not always convincing, but treats a similar issue, and he makes some very good points.

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I don't see whether or not you eat meat as an ethical issue really. We are omnivores, so fulfilling or omnivoric (or whatever you call them) tendencies doesn't seem to me to be unethical. I find it unethical however when animals are raised in cruel conditions, in factory farms, for instance, and mass-bred to live awful lives, and then killed inhumanely.

In truth, in buying meat from the butcher or supermarket, wherever you buy it from, the animal is clearly already dead, and not eating it isn't going to bring it back to life; if you don't eat it, someone else will. And while sure, being a vegetarian decreases the demand for meat, it doesn't do it on such a scale that is effective, or that makes a difference.

If I went to a restaurant where they had an animal running around in a pen or something, and it was on the menu, to be killed there for you to eat it, I would sure as hell not order that piece of meat, because I AM sentencing it to death. But considering the meat is already dead, and also that it's really a significant part of the human diet, I don't think myself unethical for eating meat.

Fallacious argument ... i.e. if people were keeping slaves, and you were at a slave market, and you knew people would buy these slaves so your own actions would make little difference to them, would you be justified in buying them? This is counterargument #1 -- other people's unethical behavior doesn't justify your own.

When you buy meat coming from an animal that was treated badly, you're subsidizing - and hence encouraging - this behavior. That won't make the past better, but it might lessen how much worse the future gets. Imagine if the large section of India's population that is currently (effectively) vegetarian began to eat meat... Counterargument #2 is your actions do make a difference, and if everyone justifies their actions by your theory, the status quo is maintained, whereas the accumulation of small decisions can make very large changes.

Might be worth reading Thoreau's On Civil Disobedience btw. Not always convincing, but treats a similar issue, and he makes some very good points.

Ok very true, it was quite a terrible argument (I was tired at the time). But not to make excuses.

I do stand by that we are omnivores, so to eat some meat is not a terrible thing.

However I certainly agree, that eating meat from an animal that has been kept in cruel conditions does encourage that behaviour.

I detest animals being treated badly. When I found out about our (Australia's) cattle trade to Indonesia, where animals were being grossly and gruesomely mistreated, I felt sick.

All I was saying was that I don't think it's 'unethical' to eat meat in general. We are omnivores. I agree though, as I said before, that it is unethical to eat meat when the animal has been mistreated when alive.

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I don't see whether or not you eat meat as an ethical issue really. We are omnivores, so fulfilling or omnivoric (or whatever you call them) tendencies doesn't seem to me to be unethical. I find it unethical however when animals are raised in cruel conditions, in factory farms, for instance, and mass-bred to live awful lives, and then killed inhumanely.

In truth, in buying meat from the butcher or supermarket, wherever you buy it from, the animal is clearly already dead, and not eating it isn't going to bring it back to life; if you don't eat it, someone else will. And while sure, being a vegetarian decreases the demand for meat, it doesn't do it on such a scale that is effective, or that makes a difference.

If I went to a restaurant where they had an animal running around in a pen or something, and it was on the menu, to be killed there for you to eat it, I would sure as hell not order that piece of meat, because I AM sentencing it to death. But considering the meat is already dead, and also that it's really a significant part of the human diet, I don't think myself unethical for eating meat.

Fallacious argument ... i.e. if people were keeping slaves, and you were at a slave market, and you knew people would buy these slaves so your own actions would make little difference to them, would you be justified in buying them? This is counterargument #1 -- other people's unethical behavior doesn't justify your own.

When you buy meat coming from an animal that was treated badly, you're subsidizing - and hence encouraging - this behavior. That won't make the past better, but it might lessen how much worse the future gets. Imagine if the large section of India's population that is currently (effectively) vegetarian began to eat meat... Counterargument #2 is your actions do make a difference, and if everyone justifies their actions by your theory, the status quo is maintained, whereas the accumulation of small decisions can make very large changes.

Might be worth reading Thoreau's On Civil Disobedience btw. Not always convincing, but treats a similar issue, and he makes some very good points.

Ok very true, it was quite a terrible argument (I was tired at the time). But not to make excuses.

I do stand by that we are omnivores, so to eat some meat is not a terrible thing.

However I certainly agree, that eating meat from an animal that has been kept in cruel conditions does encourage that behaviour.

I detest animals being treated badly. When I found out about our (Australia's) cattle trade to Indonesia, where animals were being grossly and gruesomely mistreated, I felt sick.

All I was saying was that I don't think it's 'unethical' to eat meat in general. We are omnivores. I agree though, as I said before, that it is unethical to eat meat when the animal has been mistreated when alive.

The argument you put forward is similar to Drake's argument of evolution. Just because we are omnivores now does not justify the consumption of meat. As Daedalus pointed out, if the populations of Southern Asia and Africa started to consume meat at the rate of an average person in 'the West' (who you would describe as an omnivore), there would simply be not enough meat to go around globally. As the global population increases, I think the consumption of meat not only tests our ethics but also our ability to plan ahead to reach sustainable consumption levels. As I have stated previously, the diet of an animal relies on its habitat. We have almost reached the maximum utility level of our habitat. As rational and beings, can we not see the day when meat becomes a 'luxury good' rather than a 'necessity'? Should we not be making an early move towards lower meat consumption levels?

You must also bear in mind that animal cruelty is a direct result of the increase in demand for meat (and food) due to an increase in the global population. From an industrialist's point of view, I think that a chicken battery farm is a perfect design and a good thing. It's cheap, efficient, doesn't require a vast amount of resources to run and it has a high turn-over rate. Where's the problem? It's deemed 'unethical'. Do you not see the dilemma? On one hand we have an increasing in demand for meat, on the other hand we are labeling the most efficient methods of meat production 'unethical'. What is the result? A few posters suggested only purchasing products that guarantee 'humane' methods for raising and slaughtering animals for consumption as a solution. Ignoring whether such methods can ever exist without distorting the definition of 'humane', this in fact acts as a subsidy to producers who are inefficient and have a lower comparative advantage than say a chicken battery farm. Let us assume that such a subsidy increases the number of producers, we would still need more factors of production to run these farms as they are less efficient. Higher meat prices, same quantity of meat produced. The people who support such a subsidy indirectly support a 'meat for the rich' scenario.

So, should we say that the consumption of meat is justifiable because it is natural to consume meat and thus it is a necessity which all should have access to (supporting what is effectively deemed ‘cruelty’ towards animals)? Or should we say that we should only consume meat if it is 'humanly' produced and accept a system where only the rich can afford it (which is certainly the emerging situation)?

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Monks (well, at least, Chinese monks, [i think O.o]) are dedicated not to kill and are pure vegetarians (at least dedicated ones). As Confucius used to say, "What you don't want to happen to yourself, do not do to others." Animals are very alike to humans in a variety of ways. They can feel pain, and they have feelings! I think some of you guys are taking for granted that it is natural for humans to be able to eat meat, and therefore it is ethical. But is what is natural necessarily ethical? Humans (IMO) are the cruelest beings known to existence. Is being selfish ethical? O.o

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I understand why some people would believe it's unethical to consume meat, but what I don't understand is why some people say that we shouldn't value human lives over animal lives.

The reason we value human lives, and the reason there are such big consequences for murder against a human being, is because we are human. In the animal world, cannibalism doesn't take place very often either. You don't see cows eating other cows, so why would humans eat other humans? We obviously place more value on a human life, which also explains why we place less value on animal lives. You don't see lions eating other lions. In fact, interesting thing is that lions may eat their lion cubs ONLY if food is scarce. Humans have been known to do the same thing, indulging in cannibalism if food is scarce.

I agree that many times animals are NOT treat ethically at all. But that doesn't mean that every person that eats meat is suddenly unethical. People may say it's "ignorant" to not research every possibly fact about where our meat comes from and how the animals were treated, but I personally think its also ignorant to assume that every person is capable of being a vegetarian. Some people may actually NEED meat in order to survive. People have been known to get sick on vegetarian diets while being fine on non-vegetarian diets. You can't research everything on something you yourself are interested in, and then expect to be some "authority" that decides whether or not a topic is ethical or not. Meat is one of these examples. If you believe its ethical to eat it, go ahead. If not, don't.

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I understand why some people would believe it's unethical to consume meat, but what I don't understand is why some people say that we shouldn't value human lives over animal lives.

The reason we value human lives, and the reason there are such big consequences for murder against a human being, is because we are human. In the animal world, cannibalism doesn't take place very often either. You don't see cows eating other cows, so why would humans eat other humans? We obviously place more value on a human life, which also explains why we place less value on animal lives. You don't see lions eating other lions. In fact, interesting thing is that lions may eat their lion cubs ONLY if food is scarce. Humans have been known to do the same thing, indulging in cannibalism if food is scarce.

I agree that many times animals are NOT treat ethically at all. But that doesn't mean that every person that eats meat is suddenly unethical. People may say it's "ignorant" to not research every possibly fact about where our meat comes from and how the animals were treated, but I personally think its also ignorant to assume that every person is capable of being a vegetarian. Some people may actually NEED meat in order to survive. People have been known to get sick on vegetarian diets while being fine on non-vegetarian diets. You can't research everything on something you yourself are interested in, and then expect to be some "authority" that decides whether or not a topic is ethical or not. Meat is one of these examples. If you believe its ethical to eat it, go ahead. If not, don't.

If you read Daedalus's argument, our general argument is that if people can don't have to eat meat and still eat it, it's unethical. If you need it, you have to eat it and that is within reason of our ethics.

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