To Eat Meat or Not to Eat Meat, That is the Question

"A thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability and beauty of the biotic community. It is wrong when it tends otherwise."

-Aldo Leopold

In the grasslands of Africa a lion topples a giraffe, in the cold Arctic Circle a polar bear captures a seal, a newborn fawn falls prey to a hungry wolf, and nobody objects. Yet the act of eating meat is still a major topic of ethical reasoning today. Ethical eaters argue that it?s wrong for humans to kill animals for food where survival is not at stake. Humans have a choice in what we eat and need to understand the ethical implications of our choices. In recent years, vegetarians have governed the discussion about the ethics of eating meat, and the reasons against it are some of the most obvious. The main points of argument against meat include the treatment of animals and the way in which they are raised and killed, and the implication that eating meat is directly associated with the killing of sentient beings. However, these aspects that claim to make eating meat unethical are not implicit to just the production of meat. In fact meat eating can be an ethical act. This research essay will provide evidence to support the conclusion that ?meat eaters? are not morally wrong, and that engaging in a balanced omnivorous lifestyle is truly the proper way of life for us as a species. It will analyze the blood-ridden practice of agricultural farming and plant killing, historical and archeological evidence in support of meat eating, and alternatives as well as responsible methods which allow the consumption of meat to be conscious and ethically right.

In an interview with Yes Magazine Joel Salatin, an American farmer, author, and lecturer, said; ?There?s no system in nature that does not have an animal component as a recycling agent. Doesn?t exist. Fruits and vegetables do best if here is some animal component with them- chickens or a side shed with rabbits. Manure is magic.? Historically it can be seen that animals evolved with humans. We have developed mutually beneficial relationships by domesticating animals such as cows, pigs, and chickens. But the domestication of animals and the cultivation of vegetables go hand in hand. Growing vegetables is a highly extractive practice that removing nutrients from the soil, so to create a sustainable system inputs are required to replenish them. It is a well-known fact that animal manure enriches soil, so it should come as little surprise that the cultivation of vegetation is so deeply dependent on animal byproducts. The use of fertilizer and animal byproducts is often a nearly invisible part of innovative and sustainable food production, which connects even the most dedicated vegans to a system responsible for raising livestock animals.
?Meat is murder? is often the battle cry for many vegetarians and vegans alike, but what one must realize is that the ethics of farming extends beyond whether or not killing animals for food is right or wrong. After all, tons of animals are killed yearly as a result of farming plants. When preparing land for growing crops like soybeans, wheat, and corn one must destroy habitats, displace or rid the wildlife currently living on the land, spray pesticides, harvest, and clean the food harvested. This very process of preparing the land claims the lives of millions of animals.
Many ?meat eaters? will argue that there is more murder in the plastic wrapped chemically treated tofu burger then the slice of meat that has been attained from local grass-fed farmer. And this is true for many plant based foods available today. How many animals had to be sacrificed in order for that soybean field to be planted? The vast amounts of areas cleared to grow plant based crops lead to massive levels of destruction and even higher loss of diversity in ecosystems. When analyzing this from an animal right perspective, the killing of animals as a result of farming is worse than the generally suggested ?unintentional killing?, since the farmer is well informed that animals will be killed in the process. So if one is to really follow and protect the rights of animals, how can the justification for animals being killed for crops being grown, yet eating meat stand as an unethical murderous act?

The act of killing animals for