I don’t agree with the treatment of animals in industrial factory farms, thus I don’t buy meat, but I do eat meat. Animals are living organisms just like plants. We attribute anthropomorphic traits them because we are more closely related to use, but the taking of a life for consumption is the same whether it have a central nervous system or chlorophyll. We assume plants don’t have “feelings” but it is scientifically proven that they respond to stimuli in the form of light and anecdotally there are many reports of them responding to the human voice.
Now the other argument of course is that meat production consumes enough grain to feed the world’s hungry. Well, in fact global hunger is today is not so much the result of scarcity as it is a problem of distribution and access. Enough food is being produced, whether it be in the form of meat or grain, it is simply not getting to the people who most need it because of political, and economic policies perpetuated by the West. The world is in greater need for reforms in other areas then simply dietary preferences.
Some people do or do not eat meat based on religious beliefs. For example, many Christians believe that it is acceptable to eat meat because God put animals on the earth for human consumption. On the other hand, other religions, such as Jainism, believe that they should harm the least amount of people or living things possible and thus avoid it. It’s a very personal decision that depends upon many individual factors.
Maybe it is not necessarily that people are able to justify eating animals, but more that they never contemplate the ethics of it. I think that a lot of people do not feel that they need to justify eating meat because it is all they have ever known. Just as many people do not feel that they have to justify their religion, or something else they were taught from the start, for a lot of people eating meat is not something that is ever debated.
As living things in the food chain, we humans must consume other living things, just like any other carnivores or omnivores in the food chain. Is a wolf immoral? Is a bear immoral? If you don’t want to eat other living things, you can make the choice to starve to death. Personally, I consider suicide immoral, as do most in many organized religions of humanity. So that means you’re morally obliged to try to stay alive, which means hunting and gathering other living things to eat as food. Bon apetit!
I don’t think people are asked, most of the time, to ethically justify eating meat. But if they were, most would probably argue that they are omnivores by nature. (Evidence of this can be seen in the difficulty to obtain natural sources of B-12 outside of animals and animal products.) This may be true, but unfortunately, we do not live in a natural world, and because of that we need to make adjustments. Personally, I don’t think it is unethical to eat meat in general. I do, however, think that the majority of the farming industry is very unethical, which is why I eat a mainly vegetarian diet.
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