When it comes to the ethics of eating animals, there are two different stances one can take. The first (and perhaps the most common) is the debate on whether or not a living creature deserves to lead a life of suffering for the sole purpose of providing humans with what they feel like eating. Most vegans or vegetarians swimming in this vein are likely doing so in opposition to factory farming.

At this point, it would make sense for me to insert graphic and grotesque descriptions of the brutality that takes places within factory farming. You’re lucky because I am going to (for the most part) spare those details. Everyone is at least slightly aware that the meat they eat comes from dirty, inhumane conditions.


Whether you learned from a public speaking class, a vegan friend or some experimental film, you have most likely seen chickens pecking each other to death and being debeaked alive in cramped spaces. You’ve probably heard squeals from pigs being slaughtered and witnessed feces-covered cows standing in blood pools at least once. You probably also choose to ignore it.

Another argument that is presented when one is questioning the morality of meat eating is whether or not animals even deserve to be killed for food. Philosopher Aristotle, felt as though nature, within  itself, is a hierarchy in which those with less reasoning exist for the sake of those with more reasoning ability. So the fact that I even question what I am eating, that rationality, makes me superior to animals.

Therefore, it seems illogical to me to recognize the cruelty inflicted upon livestock and the benefits of vegetarianism, with said rationality, and throw it away because one likes the taste of dead flesh. By disregarding this reasoning, one is simply voiding their superiority and knowingly engaging in irrationality. Shouldn’t our acknowledgements of the meat industry promote the dismantlement of the establishment for the animals that can’t do anything?

Perhaps our higher levels of intelligence are meant to be utilized in a heroic fashion as opposed to a bloodthirsty one. This movement against eating meat is more political and philosophical than most realize. It makes the individual really contemplate the notion of equality- should it really be extended to only humans, or is it with all species we should empathize- regarding them as living creature who are entitled to their lives.

If animals are deemed inferior and unworthy because we believe their intelligence does not match our own, I am so bold to inquire why historically the “smarter” humans did not consider eating those they viewed as inferior? What really makes people believe animals are inferior and do not deserve their lives simply because they taste “good?”

Alongside the “I like the way meat tastes” and “It’s hard to be vegetarian” excuses for eating meat is the ever popular “being vegetarian is not healthy–how do you get your protein?” argument.

The American Dietetic Association (ADA) is an organization that came about after World War II, shaping and influencing the public and legislative discussion about health, food safety and nutrition. According to the ADA vegetarians and vegans “meet and exceed requirements” for protein, and that excess animal protein intake is linked with osteoporosis, kidney disease, calcium stones in the urinary tract and cancer. Furthermore, despite popular beliefs, vegetarians and vegans tend to have more optimal protein consumption than meat eaters. On that note, I feel as though I don’t even need to mention the health benefits associated with not eating meat–ranging from lower body mass indexes to overall lower cancer rates and blood pressure.

This piece is not intended to be a rant against omnivores or necessarily a case for vegetarianism. Above all, it is an inquiry. At this point in time, during an information revolution, the majority of people are more than aware of the corruption and cruelty that makes eating meat possible on a large scale.

Most individuals know that vegetarianism or veganism is altogether healthier than the latter. My honest intent behind this article is to make people question why they still eat animals knowing all of this. Are you really just too lazy or gluttonous to make that “radical” of a change in your diet?


Elissa Fredeen can be contacted at 


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