I’m not sure if “moral” is the perfect word for what I’m asking. Basically, do you think there is a fundamental difference between eating mammals and other animals, like fish?
I’m a vegetarian, so personally, I don’t eat any animals. The thought of it makes me sad. That being said, I think that a lot of people have more of a problem with eating mammals, because they are cuter and easier to relate to as humans. I think this is especially true when Americans find out about other cultures that eat animals (like dogs, or bunny rabbits, or cats) that we consider to be pets.
No. I think the human animal is an omnivore just like many other animals. I think eating any meat (mammal or other) is part of our nature.
The moral issue is about knowing how that animal you ate was treated when it was alive. Was it raised in a CAFO? Was it allowed to eat the foods that animal naturally eats or was it forced to eat grains, making it sick? Was it given the amount of room it would naturally have to move around and graze, or did it stand shoulder to shoulder with other animals in their own feces?
For myself, I feel the most ethical meat that I can eat is meat that I have hunted and killed myself. The animal has lived and eaten in its natural environment. I have to deal with the emotions and knowledge that I have killed this animal for my sustenance (it isn’t given to me on a piece of Styrofoam). I work quite hard to kill it – hiking many miles, stalking and observing and thinking like the animal. Finally, it is up to me to waste as little as possible.
I understand that hunting isn’t appropriate for everyone. Another option is to search out local, grass-fed beef and truly free range chickens (don’t trust the stuff in the grocery store). If neither of these are possible, buy organic – but know that the animal likely led a miserable life being forced to eat GMO corn.
I suspect this is a kind of weird opinion, but I don’t like the idea of eating carnivores. It seems like an extra inefficient step in the food chain, since the animal has to eat an animal that had to eat plants. I started thinking about this after eating some bear chili a friend made. I know bears are omnivores, but it still seems wrong to hunt something that isn’t otherwise prey.
I’m a vegetarian, and though I’ve never actually eaten a mammal (lots of chickens and fish though), I think I know what you mean. It sounds like your question stems from the idea of degrees of consciousness. A cow, for instance, has a larger brain, and therefore a greater degree of complexity than a fish. Eating a cow therefore seems different somehow than eating a fish. I shall defer judgment, however, on the morality of either to the excellent New York Times opinion piece in the links below.
However, I agree with the first poster – I think eating meat is a part of human nature, and the treatment of the animals during their life is the vital moral issue.
Yes, but not because birds are less intelligent -actually, chickens are very intelligent, probably moreso than cows. Compared to poultry, pork and beef are INCREDIBLY wasteful in terms of the amount of energy used. Every cow on the beef market requires more than twice its weight in feed to produce -and nevermind all the water that’s wasted feeding the cow and watering all the crops that go to it.
Chicken is fairly wasteful too, but far less so than beef. So, when I eat meat, I try to eat chicken or avoid it altogether.
I generally separate animal protein into three categories: fish/seafood, land animals, and animal byproducts (eggs, dairy). I would say I am definitely more comfortable eating seafood than land animals, but I’ve never really thought about the mammal connection. For me, like what mle said, it’s more about the life the animal had before dying. I don’t believe sea animals lives are altered that much before death, unlike a chicken that grew up in a tiny cage (or worse). Although I try to eat meat sparingly, I don’t think it’s immoral to eat it meat in general, but the way the majority of meat is provided in America is incredibly unethical.
I have a little trouble seeing how mammal v. not-a-mammal as valid moral distinction for a variety of reasons. I will only list a few.
First, it is obvious that humans have the capacity to digest a variety of different foods from fungi and plants, to beasts that are more than twice our size. I’m no scientist, but I would regard this as an extremely helpful adaptation and would be willing to believe that our diverse range of food sources has been one of the major factors in our success as a species. To stop eating mammals on moral grounds would be to limit our capacity for continued success by creating a false need to deny one of our most useful natural abilities.
Also, consider herding cultures like the Bedouin in the middle east or the numerous such cultures in Africa. These people live in areas where farming is either too difficult or naturally growing plant food sources are scarce. As a result, they have adapted a way of life centered around the cultivation of domesticated mammals as their main source of food, clothing, shelter, tools, and the like. Would you call these people immoral because of the mode they have chosen for their survival?
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