Eating meat might be ethical, but is it moral?

The New York Times just ran an essay competition about why it is ethical to eat meat. The essays are short, go read them, ok, good.

I think the arguments are great. Personally, I am a failed vegetarian, or as I said in 2008: a quasi-vegetarian. I try to avoid eating meat whenever possible, but I do eat meat when I am invited to someone’s home or when the meat will be thrown out. That being said, my personal goal is to avoid harming sentient creatures as much as possible. For now, I am too addicted to butter and cheese, which do cause pain to animals, to give those up.

Each essay has a different argument, but with the exception of one, they all seem to say the same thing, “Eating meat can be ethical when the animal is raised in a holistic and sustainable manner”. That massive transformation should be our society’s first goal.

However, I do not think killing an animal raised in a sustainable manner is less morally wrong. Death is death, regardless of the purpose. There is no such thing as a painless death and to cut an animal’s life short for our pleasure, when there are easy alternative nutrient sources, seems selfish at best. There are exceptions – the far north where little vegetables can be grown and the arid deserts – but generally speaking, you can find easy alternatives to meat. One essay goes as far as to say that the only ethical meat is one grown in a lab, the essayist is probably right.

Published on April 21, 2012