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On Vegetarianism and Animals

Updated: Mar 10

a green cow in a field with mountains.

(For an article on a fictional carnivore, click here)

In our era more than ever, it has become fairly common and acceptable to abstain from consuming meat, and even abstaining from any products made by animals altogether. The reasoning behind this abstaining from what was usually seen as a central part of the human food consumption is simple: it is plausible to believe that we are very similar to animals in terms of experiencing consciousness.

In other words, animals are likely to think, feel, and show affection like humans, and thus when they are sent to be slaughtered, they too experience the pain of being executed, even if they come to our tables dead and thus do not experience being eaten.

The question of morality is hence being raised, on whether or not it is legitimate to kill a living creature for the sake of our own nutrition, especially when we can sustain ourselves through alternatives. Should we say that it is okay to do so, it is likely because might makes right, since surely if these animals were the conquerors of the world and not we, we might have found the same fate, especially because many of them are carnivores.

Should we, however, say that the lives of animals be as important (or at least be of similar importance) to those of men, then the result would be that we are pretty much responsible for the severe deaths of countless of many who died just for us to satisfy our hunger, when we could have avoided that and eat foods that do not require the slaughters of those who are similar to us in thought, feeling, and experience. If eating meat is immoral, then many businesses should be seen as similar to serial killers or genocidal dictators in terms of reputation, and if meat wasn't so tasty, this severe allegation would be treated much more seriously.

I myself was a vegetarian for a few years, during the years I showed interest to live a more ascetic lifestyle. The only reason why I returned to eating meat was because I am a very hungry person and little are the foods that satisfy my hunger more than meat itself, and if it weren't for this influence on my hunger, I'd probably have remained a vegetarian, especially considering the many substitutes there are out there, at least where I live.

While I don't feel at fault when eating meat, I do wish, through technology, that we will all be able to eat meat without having its animal being killed. Although not common, it has become possible to take a sample of meat from an animal and engineer it to become a product like any other, and should that product will indeed be at supermarkets I will gladly replace my current meat consumption with this new consumable, especially when it means less animals will be killed.

Are animals that different than humans?

We contain the same materials, a similar biology system, are able to show affection to one another and perhaps have a similar psychology as well. Should we stab a pet and a human they will both suffer and bleed the same.

Thus, at least according to this logic, we and animals are quite similar than different, even if, theoretically, humans are far more intellectually and technologically advanced. We could say, as stated before, that it is our strength and power that gives us the legitimacy to kill innocent animals for meat, but the same can be said to genocidal tyrants that are far too powerful to be stopped by other countries. Is the fact that someone dies in a concentration camp, of the same moral severity, as an animal that dies in a slaughterhouse and then become a hamburger?

Of course, cannibalism is treated far more seriously than any other type of carnivore-ism, due to the fact that human lives are treated more sacredly than those of animals, even though, at least according to what I heard, the flesh of humans are similar to that of pigs (in some cultures human meat is described as a "long pig").

It is, however, reasonable to assume that if animals were gained the power of speech, or even the ability to write, their deaths would be treated far more seriously. This is, after all, what makes horror films so scary -- the ability of the human victim to verbally express his distress before being murdered. It is perhaps the non-verbal silence of an animal we do not feel emotionally attached to, that "makes" their deaths more reasonable, and their consumption, all the more delicious.

Whatever the case may be to our general apathy to the deaths of our biological counterparts, if we want to prevent said deaths, vegetarianism alone will not suffice, because the mere abstinence from meat of one or few people will not stop the huge profit of the meat and fast food industries.

The only long-term solution to this struggle is therefore the engineering of meat, and using this new product more commonly than the original ones. It will even be more reasonable to use the former than the latter when the conditions of the animals we use the meat from will bring them more benefit than harm, such as putting them in the fields of the open air rather than in overcrowded cages. Would you rather eat an originally tiny sample of an animal, or its very corpse? I at least know the answer for myself.

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Tomasio A. Rubinshtein, Philosocom's Founder & Writer

I am a philosopher from Israel, author of several books in 2 languages, and Quora's Top Writer of the year 2018. I'm also a semi-hermit who has decided to dedicate his life to writing and sharing my articles across the globe. Several podcasts on me, as well as a radio interview, have been made since my career as a writer. More information about me can be found here.

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