"The animals of the world exist for their own reasons. They were not made for humans any more than black people were made for white, or women created for men." -Alice Walker
Ethics of Vegetarianism
In many societies, ethical issues regarding the consumption of meat have arisen. These ethical objections are commonly divided into two categories: opposition to the act of killing in general, and opposition to certain agricultural practices surrounding the production of meat. Reasons for objecting to the practice of killing animals for consumption may range from animal rights, to environmental ethics, to religious reasons. Some people, while not vegetarians, refuse to eat the flesh of certain animals such as cats, dogs, horses, or rabbits due to cultural taboo. Others eat only the flesh of animals that have been treated civilly before slaughter. Some meat eaters simply avoid certain meats, such as veal or foie gras. However, it is my personal opinion that the main reason one should abstain from the consumption of meat is one that concerns beneficence, fairness, and nonmaleficence. The unethical manner in which livestock is treated before slaughtering surfaces many moral issues, most of all concerning the subjection of animals to unsuitable living (and dying) conditions in order to satisfy society’s addiction to meat. Ethical vegetarianism has become popular in developed countries, particularly because of the spread of factory meat industries, which has reduced the sense of husbandry that used to exist in farming. In order to feed modern society’s enormous appetite for meat, animals in factory farms endure unimaginable suffering in conditions of extreme filth, crowding and confinement. The cruelty is appalling, but no less so than the environmental effects of factory farming. Meat animals are fed anywhere from five to fifteen pounds of vegetable protein for each pound of meat they produce: an ostensibly unjust practice in a world where so many go hungry. Whereas...
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