CCHU9005 Food and values

Topics: Meat, Livestock, Agriculture Pages: 7 (905 words) Published: November 17, 2013
CCHU9005 Food and values

3. Eating Meat
Joe Lau
philosophy . hku . 2013

First lecture?
Write this down:
• Everything you need to know will be there
• Check regularly for announcements
• Assignment #1 & tutorials

Question for today and next week?
• Is it wrong to eat meat?

A plea for open-mindedness
• Strength of conviction might reflect the depth
of family and cultural influence rather than

Comment #1
• Absolutism vs contextualism
• Is it ALWAYS wrong to eat meat?
– What if the animal is dead? eg roadkill
– What about your own flesh?
• •

Laboratory-grown meat
• Nothing wrong in principle?

Our discussion
• Is it wrong to KILL animals for meat?
– Non-human animals
– Most of them produced in factory farms

Why do you eat meat?
Some typical reasons
• “Meat is tasty.”
• “I love eating meat.”

Two types of reasons
• “Why did you hit him?”
• Causally explanatory reason
– X is the cause of Y
– “I hit him because I was angry.”

=/= it is right

• Moral reason
– X explains why Y is the right thing to do.

A good moral reason?
• Why is it acceptable to eat meat?
• “Because meat is tasty.”
• Let’s think some more
– What if meat is NOT tasty?
– What about dogs, dolphins, chimpanzees?
– What if YOU are tasty?
– What about Dracula / super-alien?

Prudential / self-interested reason
X has a reason to do Y because Y benefits X
• “I eat meat because meat gives me the
nutrients I need.”
• “I eat meat because meat gives me energy.”
• “I eat meat because it makes me healthy.”
But are prudential reasons good moral reasons?

An actual email from a HKU student
Could you please set up another
assignment for me? Please! Because i
disappoint my parents. And i seriously
don't want to leave this black mark in
my academic life and hate myself; it is
such a shame. Please, please, please. I
know it might not be fair to other
students, but please.

Some comments
• Is eating meat NECESSARY for our survival?
– Is vegetarianism really viable?

• Suppose it is. What follows?
– How much meat do we need?
– Does it entail that it is ok to eat meat?

Not enough energy?
• A matter of balanced diet
• Many athletes are vegans

Some facts: vitamins B12 & K2
• B12 not in plants; very few plants have K2
– Present in dairy products, eggs, supplements
– B12 can be stored by the body for years
– K2 present in sauerkraut, kimchi, natto beans

• Minimal requirements cannot justify the
extent of meat eating

Some facts about plants
• Plants have all the proteins we need
– Even bananas and beans have protein

• Not all proteins are good for us
– Eating meat linked to heart disease, cancer,
diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, …
– Example: Casein is the main type of milk protein
(87%). Has been linked to cancer.

World Cancer Research Fund

• Max. 500g red or processed meat per week
(beef, pork, lamb, sausages, ham, bacon …)

HK: 2kg pork & beef per week

• HK Life expectancy: 78.4 (male), 86.7 (female,
longest in the world)
• Multiple factors at work
– Generational effect, wealth, size, technology
which may affect the life expectancy compared to other countries

Cancer in HK

• “Hong Kong people have been urged to change their
diet, after the city’s cancer registry projected the
number of new cancer cases to increase by nearly onethird by the end of the next decade. • … new cases of uterine cancer is expected to double … • female breast cancer … to rise about 81 per cent …

• colorectal cancers by...
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