Ethics of Eating Meat

1 January 2017

There is no longer a need for humans to consume meat. With the decline of nutritional value in meat and rise of healthier vegetarian alternatives, consumption of meat is now purely for gustatory pleasure. By eating meat, the consumer is contributing to the slaughter of animal for pleasure opposed to survival. Eating meat with the intent of survival is morally acceptable, while contributing to the torture or killing of animals for personal pleasure is morally impermissible. Therefore, it is immoral to eat meat if healthier vegetarian options are accessible.

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Norcross explains the moral dilemma placed upon consumers who are aware of the inhumane practices of factory farms. Norcross concludes, through the analogy of Fred, that consuming factory-farmed meat is morally unjustifiable. I, however, do not believe that loving treatment of animals should be enough moral compensation to justify the unnecessary killing of an animal. Say for instance you own a pet cat and lovingly raise it with care and compassion, giving it ample room to grow and play. A few years later when the cat is fully grown, you decide to humanely put it down for the enjoyment of eating.

This scenario is morally identical to the killing and consumption of humanely raised farm animals. In both cases you are prematurely ending the life of an animal to satisfy your pleasure of consuming meat. Some supporters of meat may argue that animals are not fully capable of experiencing pain or that their brains are smaller so they cannot be regarded with the same importance as humans. However, studies have shown that animals such as pigs experience the same neurological effects brought by pain and trauma as humans.

The difference between the killing of humans and animals is morally irrelevant. Killing an animal without the need to survive should be morally placed on the same level as killing an infant or human with disabilities. Both the animal and the disabled human have the same level of perceived rationality, yet society tends to place a higher moral value on the human solely because he or she belongs to a certain species. Humans have labeled themselves of higher value because we have declared ourselves the superior species. In developed countries, meat is not essential for survival.

In western society, over consumption of meat has reached a point of being harmful to personal health. Harvard School of Public Health has associated a higher risk for diabetes, osteoporosis, heart disease, stroke and cancer with the consumption of red meat. It has reached the point in today’s society, where people are willing to sacrifice both their health and morality to derive gustatory pleasure. With healthier alternatives and the typically inhumane treatment of animals, it is morally wrong to support the killing of animals just to enjoy the taste of meat.

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