Judging: Ethically Eating Meat
The essays are in and the judging is underway! In case you missed it, the New York Times issued an essay contest challenging readers to make an ethical case for eating meat. Now, the bunch has been whittled down to 6 essays and we, the public get to vote.
I encourage you to read all of the essays here as they are all worth a read. It is clear from these essays that it’s important that everyone make a personal decision based on your values but what’s right for you isn’t right for everyone. I, personally, am a little grossed out by shmeat. I don’t know that I would want to eat it. Though, a case can be made that shmeat is ethical meat.
A theme emerged that I think is important to identify: eating meat, killing an animal should not be taken lightly. Maybe, until now we have taken it too lightly– we clearly over consume meat in the U.S. Hands down. Ethical consumption is characterized by moderation and balance.
Is it wrong to kill merely because it is the act of taking a life? What if that life is feeding starving people and giving more back to other lives by being eaten rather than living its days? If you harvest eggs from a chicken, I think it’s wrong to let that chicken go to waste. Rather, it is ethical to slaughter the chicken before it becomes ill and suffers; as natural suffering is still suffering.
Does higher cognitive function mean that we should know “better” than to eat meat? Or does it mean that we have a responsibility to not waste, to not cause suffering, and to provide good care to the animals that provide good nutrition to us? We confine pets, give them feed not natural to their diet and euthanize them before they suffer. It seems then, that the only difference between livestock and pets is that we eat livestock. Does the act of eating an animal make it wrong?
I don’t think the argument can be made that eating meat is not ethical when our consumption of animals has lead to the proliferation and success of so many species. As stated, there’s some meat on the market that’s not ethical; factory farmed, confined animals have no quality of life and are not able to reproduce (a natural inclination to sustain the species). But raising animals, providing them with safe environments, away from predators, with ample food and clean water – that’s what animals seek. They are grateful to us for providing life’s necessities, why can’t we be grateful to them and humanely enjoy the benefits they offer us?
I, however, opt out of this relationship as I don’t eat most meat – but that’s not to say it isn’t ethical. Why do you eat meat?