Food and morality

July 16, 2015

Here’s 's well-reasoned reply to my query.

The question was why there was so much moral baggage around what we eat. The asker is tired of moral superiority from non-vegans who are haughty about carnivores, and explained that it’s the moral high ground she opposed, not the vegetarianism. My answer (below) seemed to resonate with a lot of people. So I’ll repost it here. 1) We are not using our own skills to hunt, kill, prep and eat the animal. If we did, people would have less moral baggage. Hunting by hand or with tools we can fashion ourselves would be considered morally superior than collectively joining forces as a humanity versus a single animal. 2) We do not eat for hunger or nutrition alone. We eat for power and joy and greed. And we refrigerate and we waste, which really makes us killers without cause except convenience and insensitivity. 3) If we were using our skills and hunting, killing and prepping ourselves, we would be far more cognizant of what it takes to kill, but also what life means for the animal. Our lack of recognition of the sanctity of life itself is part of this moral baggage. Because we have the cognitive capacity for more. 4) We do not eat by killing in a manner that most of us would be able to tolerate coming face to face with. The animal farming industry is nothing short of holocaust level evil where humans exploit non human creatures who feel pain and emotion, by torturing them, hurting and maiming them, separating them from their young, denying them basic elements of of sustaining life, barring them from any dignities of life itself (conditions of infection and physically visible disease not to mention neurological or cognitive diseases), forcing them into cannibalism by starving them into becoming omnivorous, etc. We treat them, quite simply, like “animals”, and not like fellow living creatures, co-habitants of the Earth. We are capable of better. 5) We eat in a manner that isn’t fundamentally sustainable as a harmonious ecosystem. We eat in a manner that loots the earth and disrupts natural systems. For that one cow that is going to end up get wasted from sitting in a refrigerator too long, we forego a rather large patch of agricultural land that could nutritionally feed more (even with similar wastage). In my mind it is very similar to asking why there is moral baggage about raping women. Unfortunately we live in a world where it is commonplace, acceptable and part of the system. And we have so many human problems that it will be a long time before we truly see animal farming practices as worth solving. I do understand that you are comparing the chicken eater to the one who consumes ghee and milk. The analogy is the eve-teaser feeling morally superior to the beating-rapist. Yes, one is worse. There can be moral baggage attached to something without the need for any person to feel superior. When the “system” is a certain way, we each pick our battles to join or reject the system in a manner that fits the eco system of our own private lives. Thus we need not judge anyone’s choices, but as a humanity, we must be at least aware of our evils.

I call myself an “impure vegetarian” (the opposite of the moral-high-ground-tone in which many poeple proclaim themselves to be “pyooooor vegetarians”.) I am willing to try anything once, but have never liked non-vegetarian food enough to change to being one regularly.