My stance on vegetarianism is described in my most recent post on the subject.
I feel that so far, many people have just freaked out about my vegetarianism ideas. So how to prove something? Research. My views regarding health and food are based on my searches for knowledge in these areas.
Along those lines, back in February I read a book called Food for Thought: The Debate over Eating Meat by Steve F. Sapontzis—“an anthology that explores both sides of the ethical debate over killing animals for food.”
This is what I believe about vegetarianism, based on Food for Thought—
On page 15, the editor, Steve Sapontzis, writes as part of the introduction:
Isn’t factory farming what’s really ethically objectionable, not only because it causes animals to suffer, but also because it adversely impacts the environment and our culture in many ways and ties into standard vices such as greed, insensitivity, indifference, self-indulgence, and willful ignorance about the wider consequences of our actions?
This brings up the moral ties to eating meat, specifically the issue of factory farmed animals. No, it’s not a sin to eat a piece of chocolate. But is it a sin to eat meat?
How about this:
“Isn’t the moral of these revelations about factory farming that we should return to more traditional forms of raising and hunting meat, not that we should abandon meat eating altogether?”
In “The Conscientious Carnivore,” Roger Scruton writes:
Health and safety regulations are destroying those old and humane practices. Animals are now driven for many miles, to be herded into the death machine by people who have never cared for them, who have no regard for their sufferings, and who seem them as no more than living meat on its way to the supermarket. (p. 88)
Farming is a “time-consuming, exhausting, and ill-paid occupation,” and the reason the job is not extinct is because of the mutual relationships within the kingdom Animalia. Scruton says that the relationship between a farmer and his animals is in jeopardy because crucial “care of the herd has been taken from the farmer’s hands.” Because of agribusiness, “domestic animals have been moved one step further down the ladder from companions to things.”
I respect the traditions of farming. I respect those who care about animals, not just profit.
So what do I do? The modern world is concerned with money, genetic modification, and chemicals—the traditions are falling away, and a complete return to them is not feasible. Do I boycott all meat in the hopes that my individual choice would make a difference? Is it worth it?
Here’s another essay. In a “History of Philosophical Vegetarianism” Daniel Dombrowski writes,
…premodern thinkers offer many insights regarding the moral status of animals and regarding their appropriateness of a vegetarian diet. But it must be admitted that at the start of the modern world in the West anthropocentrism was firmly in place due to the views both of prominent ancient Greek thinkers that human rationality gave human beings a moral status that allowed them to use animals for human purposes and of influential medieval thinkers that human beings’ superiority to animals, due to humans being made in the image of God, entailed not a caring stewardship of animals but sheer domination over them. (p. 22, emphasis mine)
This attitude of domination exists today, yet I believe that we are entrusted with the animals of this earth, not to consume them and destroy their environments, but to watch over them. We have obligations to animals.
Yet at the same time, I believe that humans are set apart from animals, in that we are made in the image of God. Animals just do not have the same rights as humans, regardless of whether or not they reason or suffer.
Also about the differences between animals and humans, Roger Scruton makes a point in his essay entitled “The Conscientious Carnivore” on page 82—
Indeed, the difference between humans and other animals is never more vividly to be witnessed than in their contrasting attitudes to food. Animals feed, while people eat.
This idea comes from The Hungry Soul by Leon Kass.
…rational beings defy their own nature if they regard food purely as fuel for the body, and not also a moral and spiritual challenge. Rational beings are nourished on conversation, taste, manners, and hospitality, and to divorce food of these practices is to deprive it of its true significance.
This is a good thing to keep in mind when evaluating our relationship with food, not just food from animals.
Going back to the Creator, let me share from the Bible.
One man’s faith allows him to eat everything, but another man, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables. The man who eats everything must not look down on him who does not, and the man who does not eat everything must not condemn the man who does, for God has accepted him. Romans 14:2-3
Basically, we should not force on other people our convictions about this (or any other) issue; neither should we judge them by what they eat or do not eat.
There’s a lot more good points in the book. Not too many strong non-veg arguments, in my opinion, but still worth checking out if you want to feel sophisticated.
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