This is one of those issues that I ponder from time to time, but ignore on a whole. Only recently have I begun to really think about the ethics involved when it comes to eating meat. It’s a fairly broad topic, but is it ever ethical to raise another living species with the sole goal of killing and eating it?
The more I think about it, the less convinced I am that eating meat is ethical. This disturbs me because I love meat. Nothing beats a nice steak or roast dinner. I’m also not a big fan of vegetables. Sure, I like corn on the cob, beans and carrots, but vegetables certainly aren’t high on my to-do list, if you know what I’m saying.
However, the arguments for eating meat that I can come up with, usually sound religious in nature, which bothers me greatly.
For example, here are a few of the things I thought about to try and convince myself that eating meat was ethical.
Example 1: It’s natural. We humans are omnivores and eating meat comes naturally to us and is part of our natural diet.
If I had a penny for every time I’ve heard this same sort of argument from the religious when it came to the rights of the LGBTQ community, I’d be a very rich man. One of the first arguments out of their mouths is to say that same-sex couples aren’t natural, because they can’t reproduce.
It sounds like a weak excuse when they do it, and I have to admit that it sounds like a weak excuse when I do it to justify eating meat. Yes, we can naturally eat meat, and I would if it meant my survival with not a second thought, but I live in an industrial society and eating meat isn’t necessary or required. I could easily survive on vegetables and supplements.
Example 2: I love meat!
Yeah, so what? That doesn’t make it ethical to eat meat. Slave owners used this argument to keep slaves. They told themselves that they were doing the slaves a favor, and they even came up with so-called ethical rules on keeping slaves. It still wasn’t ethical. In fact, many religious people used the bible to justify slavery.
Just like slave owners of that time, I try to ignore the ethical implications that eating meat brings with it. Most of the time, I don’t even think about it. When I do think about it, I start to feel uncomfortable and I shove it from my mind.
The fundamental question we have to ask ourselves is whether animals have rights? Do they have a right to live free, just as we do? Do they have the right to eat a natural diet, and should their interest in staying alive outweigh our unnecessary interest of butchering and eating them?
I suppose I could be swayed in either direction, but right now, I feel as if I don’t have a leg to stand on when it comes to eating meat. It’s not necessary, and I do it because I like the taste of meat and I don’t want to give up that pleasure.
In the coming days, weeks, months, I will likely continue to wrestle with this ethical dilemma, but I’m almost certain that I know the outcome, even if it does make me cringe with distaste – it’s only a matter of time before I become a vegetarian, unless some convincing argument pops out of the blue that changes my mind.