An Argument for Meat Eating

Ooof. I just got done reading an article about how ‘happy meat’ doesn’t count as actually caring for animal rights, and the only way to care for animal rights is to be completely vegan. I’ve heard this argument before, and I still don’t buy it. First of all, I rarely hear any argument that really sinks in about why killing or eating an animal is inherently wrong.

It seems to me that things that are harmful are: things that cause pain, either to an individual or group, or things that keep another individual from attaining their goals. This is adapted from Peter Singer, a secular philosopher. The reason it’s wrong to kill a human being is because they have an interest and a preference for remaining alive. Animals don’t have that forward thinking (or at least most of them don’t. I don’t advocate killing dolphins or octopuses or chimps or elephants or other highly intelligent animals). So really the major harm in killing animals is potentially in cause emotional or physical pain to other animals, or in the pain that the individual feels as they are dying.

Now most of the animals that we eat are not highly aware or conscious. Obviously they can feel pain, but there is little evidence that cows form personal attachments to each other, or that they worry about death. So the most important thing to worry about with the death of most mammals is whether it is a painful death and whether they are raised in a kind, happy way. That is the whole essence of happy meat: ensuring that these requirements are met. So far as I can tell, there is no residual harm if those pieces are met.

That said, there may be some other considerations such as environmental factors, but those are a whole different ballgame because meat does not inherently mean less environmentally friendly. I’m strictly arguing for the morality of eating meat as such.

At its root, my whole position on meat eating stems from a notion that will probably freak some people out: life in and of itself has no inherent value. The value of life comes from the experiences within it: positive feelings, pleasurable sensations, kindness, compassion and connection with others, or a sense of fulfillment. I do not believe a life without any of these things has value. Of course I also believe that no human life is truly without any of these things, and so I believe that removing the possibility of those future good things from someone who anticipates them and has a vested interest in them is wrong. Animals do not necessarily look forward to those things in the same way, so if we can ensure them while the animal is alive, we have done all we can be expected to do. All of that said, I am highly pacifistic, a vegetarian most of the time (I only eat happy meat), and in favor of huge reforms of the meat and farming industries.

Also stay away from octopuses. Because octopuses are geniuses. Don’t hurt the octopuses. I mean seriously, look at that little cutie up there.

2 thoughts on “An Argument for Meat Eating

  1. spencelo says:


    I recommend checking out chapter 5 of Peter Singer’s Practical Ethics (3d), where he reviews the scientific evidence that farmed animals, in addition to dolphins, chimps, etc, are ” highly aware or conscious.” I would also highly recommend checking out the links at Farm Sanctuary’s website:

    All the best,

  2. nadith says:

    I think that is a bit of favoritism because you relate to it better. The same reasoning about conscious being good was used for slaver (oh, again its back) and generally the conquest, and destruction of other people. Clearly we can’t relate to them or understand them, they are nothing more than primitive animals looking like us, a sort of homunculus or pale imitation. Look at how they do things all wrong, ha ha.

    I do believe life has potential. That someone is a dolt, does not mean that they won’t save, or help someone, give birth to a group of people who change the world for the better, or that their life is not a wonder and a means of learning and exploring the world. Life without all other things to me is still a pretty neat coincidence, and more it affords quite a set of opportunities. I do not pretend to understand it, but I am learning and appreciating all the things I come to see better.
    I would also disagree with the definition of harmful, as I do not believe goal is terribly well defined, nor that people have a terribly good definition or grasp on them within their self. In that sense, wouldn’t schooling be quite harmful on the whole to a large percent of the population? I mean, a good portion of kids I knew were not terribly excited to go to school and revved about being there. I believe the predominant perspective in the pre-teens and teens is a desire to be else-where or doing something more enchanting or entertaining at least.
    I do believe the issue is more in the intent than in the artifact or aftermath of the action if looked at from a broad perspective. Otherwise I would reach back to my best approach thus far in inflicting ones reality on another.

    This all said, I love meat, and veggies, and fruits, legumes, bugs, all sorts of noms. However, i do not believe that because something is fuzzy or that I can relate to it means it is a higher priority nor suffering more. I do not believe that the cow suffered more than the lettuce in my fridge who i try to get so that its death is as prolonged as possible and that I can tear it to pieces and mash it alive in my teeth. To say you know that they do not feel, nor that they communicate seems just as ignorant as those who profess that we have definitively reached the smallest atom, or finished science, or any other idea stoutly held for no other reason than hubris and rationalization really.
    That said, we all eat, in one for or another. I don’t think it is bad, and when i die I will feed other things, which is pretty neat in itself; even dead I am useful. Admittedly I am not looking to die right now, but I am sure it will come, and when I bring it to others I try to be humane, apologize and thank them, though they may not be as understanding as I and may be little solace. But then that may just be the sense of othering everything,

    Also, I would be loathe to compare life to a broken domesticated animal. Take a horse for instance, the process of breaking their will is not terribly kind, nor is the training and dominance often formed with dogs, nor the way many domesticated animals are treated, let alone people. Ultimately we haven’t had a lot of time and luxury to concern ourselves with the kind and good way to do a lot of the things we do. In part because we are often so desirous of more, and in part because just getting to survival and seeing out of our current dilemma can be quite absorbing.

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