Should We Eat Meat?
Edgar at Opposing Views contacted me a couple of days ago about posting on a couple of debates: Should we eat meat? and Should we have pets?
I encourage everyone to comment or submit as an expert. I’d rather pose even more questions, and I don’t think they’re looking for that.
Here’s what I’d say . . .
First, I’d change the question to: Should we eat animals? Then, I’d say:
Given the reality (similar to evolution in that it is contested by a certain special interest group) that there are nonhumans whose capacity for pleasure, pain, boredom and frustration is similar to ours, why would you hold someone captive and intentionally end her life when you don’t have to? Why would you pay someone to do that for you?
Would you cage, then slaughter, then eat your dog or cat?
Given the reality that you do not need to eat the flesh, menstrual excretions or breast milk of another species in order to survive, why would you cause pain to someone and end their life when you don’t have to?
Would you suckle at the breast of your dog? Would you even suckle at the udders of a cow?
If you are female, would you eat your own menstrual secretions mid-cycle?
If not, why would you eat those of another species?
Given the reality in the developed world in 2008 that fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes and grains are available and meet your nutritional needs beautifully, deliciously and without cholesterol (but with a daily squirt of B12 under your tongue), why would you cause pain to someone and end their life when you don’t have to?
If you think that some animals are for eating and some are for petting, why do you think that? Do you realize that all that is is a statement about what a culture finds acceptable? Is there a rational reason why we should eat chickens but not parrots? Lambs but not dogs? Calves who are weeks old rather than kittens?
If you doubt that chickens or fish feel pain, yet so many other people have demonstrated that they do, wouldn’t you want to err on the side of caution and not eat them just in case everyone else was right?
If you think that we should continue to eat animals because those before us did, think about some of their other practices that no longer exist, like slavery.
Why should we do something today just because we did it yesterday? What is inherently positive, productive or spiritually nurturing about slaughtering another sentient being and eating her flesh?
If you think we are omnivores and are meant to eat other animals, therefore we should, there is plenty of evidence right in our own bodies that begs to differ and puts us far closer to herbivores (e.g., our teeth, our saliva, our digestive enzymes and our digestive tracts). And when you factor into the equation that a diet free of animals can be perfectly healthy, the herbivore/omnivore dilemma is no dilemma at all.
If you think there is a god who told us that other animals are ours to eat, why do you think that is so? If your evidence comes from some kind of religious text, just remember that it was probably written thousands of years ago by men who thought the earth was flat and didn’t understand what lightning was or why it rained.
If you think the flesh of animals, or their menstrual excretions (eggs) or their breast milk is tasty, and that’s why you consume such things, and you don’t care what had to happen in order for you to eat what you want to eat, there probably is nothing I can say (or ask) to change your mind, except possibly: Do unto others . . .