Morality and eating meat

Lately I’ve been considering the proposed justifications for eating meat. To my dismay they seem to be dwindling more and more. I’ve always loved meat, but I feel that it’s an issue of morality that cannot simply be scoffed at.

When debating as to whether or not you should eat meat from your local fast-food restaurant, the goal of helping animals/reducing suffering appears futile. I don’t believe that if you stop eating McDonalds they will order 99 pounds of beef instead of their usual 100. Even if you stop eating meat there, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you aren’t giving them money. You may still order fries, a cookie, or dare I say a McDonalds salad. So, is there a point at all to this veggie-madness?

I say yes. We need only look to other instances in which we would refrain from being associated with products even when it’s obviously in vain.

I am not suggesting that everyone put down their chicken tender and pick up a carrot. This would be hypocritical of me.

There is no doubt someone at this very moment who believes that refraining from eating at fast food restaurants is not enough (if anything). That if I truly cared about the suffering of animals I would start petitions, picket outside factories, or even sell all of my recreational possessions to save shelter animals.

So no, I am not necessarily suggesting a change of diet/habit. Instead, I am suggesting a recognition of the cognitive dissonance present when buying from a place that doesn’t hold up to your ideals/beliefs. This recognition alone is in my eyes our first step.

Imagine you became aware that your favorite American made wallet or purse was assembled by way of torturing a cow for ten days, starving it for five, and finally slaughtering the animal; all in order to obtain the finest hide. If you care at all about the suffering of conscious creatures, then your first instinct would be to disassociate yourself with such a company. Whether your disassociation makes an actual difference should be irrelevant in this case. This is an ethical question that concerns itself with the authenticity of a belief. This belief being, that there is no reason to inflict unnecessary suffering upon conscious creatures.

It seems that a separation between producer and consumer has evolved, in which the consumer feels no association with the manner in which the producer produces. The failure to recognize an obvious association between the two is a moral failure, which is not without consequence in my opinion.

-AB

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  12 comments for “Morality and eating meat

  1. August 5, 2014 at 3:46 am

    I stopped eating beef and pork a few months back (still working on chicken, but will always eat seafood. I can’t help it), and I did it partially for health reasons and partially because of the horrendous and torturous treatment the animals on these farms endure. I know that I’m probably not making much difference, if any, but it helps me sleep at night.

    As far as McDonalds, my refusal to eat there has two reasons: Beef and the fact that their meat is soaked in ammonia. I haven’t had McDonalds for at least a year, and I don’t miss it one bit.

    • August 5, 2014 at 8:21 pm

      I can’t say that I don’t miss McDonald’s fries…but I know it’s for the best haha. Health reasons are a primary factor for my attempts at not eating meat. Refraining from eating fast food in general can make a huge health difference..

      -AB

  2. August 5, 2014 at 6:44 am

    Question: Morality is a human concept. How and why does it apply to animals? Is that a good idea? Animals are not humans. They don’t have basic human rights because these come with basic human duties.

    • August 5, 2014 at 8:32 pm

      I believe you’re asking the wrong question. I’m not proposing that it is a moral absolute to even care about ‘animal’ suffering. I am simply making an argument for the people that DO care about the suffering of ‘conscious creatures,’ and how eating meat conflicts with that ideal/belief.

      I am not saying that every person’s morality has to apply or even be concerned with animals. Some don’t think so. In which case, this post is not addressing them. But my personal morality (and many people I know) concerns itself with the suffering of conscious creatures.

      I could debate and make a separate argument for why morality should extend to ALL animals (not just humans), but that is not the objective of this post.

      -AB

    • August 5, 2014 at 9:32 pm

      Why would we limit our moral behavior to our species? If extraterrestrials showed up, shouldn’t we be nice to them, even defend them, while Ken Ham tries to beat them into submission with his bible?

  3. August 5, 2014 at 9:44 pm

    I do have a possible solution for you. Get a bunch of friends together, or family members, buy a cow from a local farmer, and have it slaughtered. It gets away from a lot of the problems: you know where the meat is coming from, so you know how it lived, and you know how it was slaughtered so you can guarentee it’s down humanely. Plus you’ll be putting money back into your local community and you’ll be forcing yourself to make your own food and thus eating more healthy 😉

    • August 5, 2014 at 9:57 pm

      Haha. That is a possible solution. I wish we could simply embrace the efficiency of industry and mass production in a way that maintains high standards of moral care for animals.

      -AB

  4. August 5, 2014 at 10:27 pm

    Brilliant post.
    As we know that animals are in fact sentient beings and can be harmed, it is our duty to make sure that they are treated with dignity and respect for this reason, also, as part of our moral duties towards the wellbeing of other creatures, we should all care very much how animals are being treated.

    Strangely, I found myself pondering the same issue with meat some time ago. I regularly campaign to end the Halal and Kosher methods of meat slaughter, which is common practice in the United Kingdom and recently, a friend of mine asked me the following question:
    “If I care so much, why don’t I stop eating meat altogether”.
    Here is what I think.
    Animal slaughter is a messy business at the best of times but the human benefits to eating meat are great on so many levels. When I consider a human being dying tragically young for instance, it is not just the conscious character that we mourn, but the hopes and dreams, aspirations and so on that have been snuffed out. It is of course the impact on others who are effected by this and the emotional distress the loss of a loved one, which is palpably worse when the victim is young, can almost certainly be devastating for all involved. As far as animals are concerned, we differ greatly in these areas and for that reason, I consider the areas of most importance when dealing with the slaughter of animals to be their wellbeing at the point of slaughter, and the consideration and wellbeing of other animals who could possibly be distressed by witnessing the event. Here is where our responsibilities lie and I don’t consider the actual slaughter of the animal to be neither good nor bad, it is how the slaughter is conducted and the level of care shown at the point of slaughter which truly matters. It is our duty to protect them from any kind of suffering or harm.

    That being said, I always avoid or even protest against organisations who do not take this responsibility seriously and behave in ways that cause undue pain and suffering. This is precisely the reason why I am against religious organisations being exempt from regulation dictating the process that an animal must be legally slaughter on the grounds of their religion. These high standards are demanded by everyone in recognition of our moral and human responsibilities, yet, if you’re religious, you can kill them how they want!
    Sorry for the rant. Your posts always provoke thought!

    • August 5, 2014 at 10:52 pm

      Thank you! I’m glad that you found the post thought provoking.

      This is a topic that has obviously been debated for some time, and is viewed from many different angles. As far as eating meat for health reasons, I’ve yet to buy that it is harmful to avoid eating meat entirely. I think that this is exemplified by the fact that there have been olympians in the past that were devout fruitarians…Yes, a diet consisting primarily of (you guessed it) fruit. Even Steve Jobs was a fruitarian for a while.

      Nevertheless, I think that the real factor we should be concerning ourselves with is the prevention unnecessary suffering, and like you said, making sure the slaughter of animals is conducted in a humane manner.

      Thanks for the comment!

      -AB

      • August 5, 2014 at 11:14 pm

        Yea of course I don’t suggest they eating a diet without meat can’t lead to a healthy lifestyle at all, but the benefits of meat are great. Cheers

  5. August 6, 2014 at 4:56 pm

    I’ve been wrestling with this as well. I don’t think the arguments for eating meat stack up and they actually sound religious in nature.

    If eating meat were necessary, I could see doing it. But in today’s modern society, it isn’t necessary.

    Since coming to that realization, I’ve cut way back on eating meat. I usually go all week minus a day now eating vegetarian. I hope to make the leap to vegetarian in the near future.

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