Eating meat

A reaction to:

http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/08/16/when-vegans-wont-compromise/?ref=opinion

You say, “Strict veganism, of course, would be better on all counts.” But exactly why? To avoid the suffering of an animal killed as a byproduct of our feeding ourselves? But what about the millions of creatures that die when a field is plowed under to prepare for the growing of a crop, or run over during it’s harvesting? Are those millions of earthworms and nematodes and birds and rodents (not counting microbes), all of which play a role in making the soil the living thing that it is, less worthy of protection than a pig or a cow? No creature can exist without having a detrimental impact on other living creatures. Perhaps we should worry only about “sentient” ones. But what definition of “sentience” justifies an animal’s inclusion in Gary Francione’s absolutist “principle of justice.” Even setting all that aside, it is important to recognize that ALL primates–apes, monkeys, and humans throughout our evolutionary history)–have always included animals in their diets. Call this the naturalistic fallacy, or simply call it a fact of nature, the eating of animals–and the suffering that this entails–is part of who we are as primates and as humans. One response is to deny biological reality and attempt an impossible abolitionism, with all of the ethical contortions that this requires. Another response is to embrace the eating of animals as a fact of our nature, and make every effort to treat those animals with reverence, respect, and gratitude.

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About ethologist

Professor in the Zoology Department at Michigan State University
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