What Is Vegetarianism?

To protest about bullfighting in Spain, the eating of dogs in South Korea, or the slaughter of baby seals in Canada while continuing to eat eggs from hens who have spent their lives crammed into cages, or veal from calves who have been deprived of their mothers, their proper diet, and the freedom to lie down with their legs extended, is like denouncing apartheid in South Africa while asking your neighbors not to sell their houses to blacks.

- Peter Singer, Animal Liberation

Podcast of the Day

Is it always wrong to eat animals? In this episode we talk to Peter Singer and to Jeff Mcmahan about this quotidian moral question. Peter Singer is a laureate professor at the University of Melbourne, and the Ira W. DeCamp Professor of Bioethics at Princeton University; Jeff Mcmahan is Professor of Philosophy at Rutgers University.

Listen to the Minerva podcast episode on Vegetarianism

Video of the Day

Short Article of the Day

Global meat consumption is predicted to double by 2020. Yet in Europe and North America, there is growing concern about the ethics of the way meat and eggs are produced. The consumption of veal has fallen sharply since it became widely known that to produce "white" -- actually pale pink -- veal, newborn calves are separated from their mothers, deliberately made anemic, denied roughage, and kept in stalls so narrow that they cannot walk or turn around.

In Europe, mad cow disease shocked many people, not only because it shattered beef's image as a safe and healthy food, but also because they learned that the disease was caused by feeding cattle the brains and nerve tissue of sheep. People who naively believed that cows ate grass discovered that beef cattle in feed lots may be fed anything from corn to fish meal, chicken litter (complete with chicken droppings) and slaughterhouse waste.

Concern about how we treat farm animals is far from being limited to the small percentage of people who are vegetarians or even vegans. Despite strong ethical arguments for vegetarianism, it is not yet a mainstream position. More common is the view that we are justified in eating meat, as long as the animals have a decent life before they are killed.

The problem, as Jim Mason and I describe in our recent book, "The Way We Eat," is that industrial agriculture denies animals even a minimally decent life...

Continue reading Peter Singer's article: The Ethics of Eating

Further Reading

In most societies the great majority of people eat meat when they can get it, but increasing controversy and debate has arisen over the ethics of eating animals. The most commonly given ethical objection to meat-eating is that, for most people living in the developed world, it is not necessary for survival or health; slaughtering animals solely because people enjoy the taste of meat is argued by some to be wrong and morally unjustifiable.

Ethical vegetarians and ethical vegans may also object to the practices underlying the production of meat, or cite their concerns about animal welfare, animal rights, environmental ethics, and religious reasons. In response, some proponents of meat-eating have adduced various scientific, nutritional, cultural, and religious arguments in support of the practice. Some meat-eaters only object to rearing animals in certain ways, such as in factory farms, or killing them with cruelty; others avoid only certain meats, such as veal or foie gras...

Continue reading the Wikipedia article on the Ethics of eating meat

Bonus Webcomic

Related Topics

 Animal Ethics | Ethics | Equality

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