I’m saying: What is good enough for any living creature is good enough for me. Eating meat need not be an act of arrogant species-ism, but consistent with a humble submission to the tides of life and death.
Let me begin by stating that I am a meat-eater who is wholly convinced by the arguments put forth by vegetarians. I have serious guilt and moral misgivings about eating meat — but I do it anyway, because it’s tasty, and I’m weak, and because I’m not the one having to slaughter the poor beasts.
This argument that “Other animals eat meat, therefor it’s justifiable for me to do so, too,” is utterly unconvincing to me. And not just because morality doesn’t apply to animals.
Other animals eat meat because they have no choice. But we do have a choice. If you slaughter a cow to prevent yourself from starving to death, I don’t consider that to be a moral failing. But buying a pack of ground beef at the supermarket when I could have just as easily bought a pound of rice? That’s something I’ve always felt guilty about.
But on the other hand.
While that particular argument is not one I find compelling, an idea did occur to me while reading this piece which gives me pause, and actually causes me to reconsider my long-held opinions on meat-eating. A wrench I might be able to throw into the vegetarians’ moral argument. It is this:
Let’s assume the vegetarian presupposition that meat is murder. With that in mind, is it better to live a short while and be murdered, or is it better to have never existed at all?
In other words, if every meat-eater on the planet became a vegetarian tomorrow, that means all the millions of cows and chickens we eat each year will, in the future, not be brought into existence.
And isn’t a short life better than no life at all?
My answer to that would be… it depends.
A life under factory farm conditions is a life not worth living. Those animals would be better off if they had never existed.
But a life on a traditional farm, free from suffering? That’s a life that is worth living, even if it’s a life that ends at the slaughterhouse.
Suddenly I don’t feel so guilty about eating meat any more.