Let’s Get Philosophical
The fact we have a higher consciousness to deliberate these questions about ethics and morality, raises our intellect above animals. This is what sets us apart and yet, biologically speaking, we are not apart from them. You can see how this is a delicate line to cross.
Do you think a bee thinks much about its ability to pollinate other plants? The worker bee’s sole intention is to bring back food for its colony. It doesn’t have the ability to comprehend the ripple effects its action are having in sustaining the life of its colony beyond that moment. But that’s exactly what its actions are doing. Pollinating plants for future growth and in doing so, contributing to the survival of its hive in the future.
But as humans, we have the ability to comprehend such matters. To make intentional choices about how we choose to exist in this world. We can choose to eat food as we wish and, biologically speaking, we can eat a wide range of food. We’ve evolved to do so in a world where no food source is certain because climate varies, seasons change, and weather patterns can quickly put a halt to our plans to sow and harvest. On this premise, many would argue, we have the choice to simply not eat meat. That’s all well and good. But we also have the choice to then eat meat.
The Cloudy Problem
I see the good that has come from people challenging the merits of animal agriculture, drawing particular attention to the factory farming model. They’ve helped to raise awareness about animal cruelty in an industry that has proliferated behind closed doors and never been held to account for its environmental degradation. We’ve even been encouraged to reduce our consumption of meat, because let’s face it, we really don’t need to eat meat at every meal. Protein and nutrients come in many different forms.
There are, however, many well-intentioned folk who are throwing every form of animal agriculture into the one basket.
Unfortunately, this muddles the picture and ultimately leads to the wrong fight being fought. By viewing all forms of animal agriculture as evil, immoral and unethical, is to say that animals have no role in sustaining natural ecosystems, and humans have no role in managing those systems. So basically, are we to passively sit back and let nature take its course? If this were the case, we would cease to exist as a species. This part doesn’t even need to be about eating the meat. For what this argument fails to acknowledge is one key point. The positive impact these well managed, animal-based agricultural systems have in rebuilding biodiversity, soil and a more resilient food system for us. From here, the people in charge managing these systems deserve to be equitably compensated for doing one of the most important jobs on the planet.
From this point, I want to make it clear.
I do not believe animals were put on this earth to be locked up in sheds, fed unnatural diets of grain and soy, pumped with antibiotics because their environment does not support a healthy way of living, and then sent to a slaughter house to feed into a food system based around efficiency, convenience and highly processed foods. One where cheaper is considered better and quality is disregarded. One where the animal has no face and is served between two slabs of highly refined wheat bread devoid of any meaningful nutrition and a plastic slice of cheese (you may even get a soggy shred of a green coloured vegetable that resembles baby snot). And this is considered to be the life force that is our food which we rely on to uphold our whole species. I think not.