Is it ok to eat meat?
By Colten Kamlade, Contributor
When talking about current moral issues, someone inevitably mentions animal welfare. Just as invariably, someone smugly dismisses the movement as childish. They say that pigs and cows are just dumb animals. Another common response is that animals eat each other in the wild, and so it is all right if we eat other animals, as we are animals ourselves. This is all uttered with an air of authority and intelligence. However, what kind of argument is actually being made?
The idea that animals have no moral value because they are less intelligent than humans is easily dismissed. We know it is no worse to kill a man with an IQ of 160 than a man with an IQ of 85. There is no reason why this logic should not apply to animals. The food chain argument is no better. It essentially translates to this: In nature, some animals are able to dominate and devour other animals and this is right because it is natural. Firstly, I see no reason to consider what is natural to be what is morally right. Secondly, the argument could also apply to human interactions. Thus, all number of horrific acts would be permissible. There is no way to create a consistent ethical system in which animals are not included.
I imagine many people will respond to these arguments with “But they’re just animals.” Though perhaps not the most sophisticated rebuttal, I believe it captures something of what we know to be true. There is something sacred about human life. No argument can be made for this and it must be accepted as foundational. You must believe it to be true without evidence. If so, then you can disregard much of the previous paragraph. No one can argue with you. Instead, you must ask yourself whether the sanctity of human life implies that animals have no worth. Is slaughtering a pig for your own pleasure a morally neutral act? How about allowing a cow to wallow in filth and infection? Surely the same sense that told you that human life was sacred cried out in protest when you read that. If so, do something to improve the lives of animals. Buy from farms that treat their animals well. If you’re feeling really convicted, become a vegetarian. There is a plethora of ways you can help reduce the suffering of animals.