The NEW YORK TIMES asked for essays that argue against the vegan/vegitarian claim that eating meat is not ethical. I made this comment in that request:
Having thought on the issue of whether meat eating is ethical a bit; I’d like to indicate 1st that these comments on ethics are from a working cowboy’s perspective. The operative word being: working. I’m in my mid 60’s now, and as a rancher I don’t sit around and eat salads alone – ever. The obvious reason is that outdoor work (rough manual labor) requires a balance in the diet with a heavy emphasis on real milk, real meat, and real vegetables. We have a number of youngster interns come stay with us, and those that declare for vegetarianism, are respected, but soon find their feet and rear end dragging, real work requires lots of real meat protein.
The notion that the behavior of eating meat is ethical presupposes the existence of a behavior distinguishable as right or wrong. Ethical behavior is codified for the Israelites in Exodus 20:1–17, while binding to Old Testament Israelites, much remains for most Americans the hallmark of determining ethics today. Although you’d never be able to tell from the behavior of the Judicial System, but that is another contest.
The ethics of meat eating is not some abstract theology or philosophy. Surely the ethical meat eater demands quality and balance in his meals. For most humans today, meat eating is an act that is not necessarily a matter of requirement or survival, rather an act of partaking of the harvest of the animal kingdom. The declension of meat eaters are two: carnivores and omnivores. The ethical human is a creature that eats in moderation and a balanced diet of plant and animal.
Are there un-ethical meat eaters, why sure, the gluttonous fall into this category, but also, the unquestioning fast food junkie. Perhaps ethical meat eating is better described as focus on the balance and quality of the harvest. Many are beginning to question the un-ethical practices of factory farm meat and the shallow or absence of animal welfare considerations. Isn’t it a matter of meat eating ethics that causes the question: which part of the chicken is the McNugget?
In summary, ethics has to do with right and wrong. Throughout the history of civilization in any given culture the rules of ethics for that culture have been decreed by the religion of that culture. The Christian religion, as codified within the Bible, teaches that man was created to serve God and those plants and animals were created to serve man. Therefore, not only is it ethical to eat an animal, that’s their purpose for being here.
Now, if your religion teaches that there is no qualitative difference between man and animals, and you believe they all evolved from the same accidental collocation of atoms in a primordial swamp, and that animals have the same rights as man, then for you eating animals is unethical.
To get a view of Falster Farm Beef steers jump to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g9ySSD2LWbQ