Quicklinks: Animals and food

Tauriq Moosa has a new essay looking at the ethics of keeping animals in captivity. He claims that it is not always wrong, and I’d agree that there are times when it can be right. It seems as though we’d disagree exactly how often that is but he does bring up a number of points that are worth thinking about.

The other two links concern animals as food; something that I see fellow South African Jacques Rousseau thinks should end in his lifetime:

I can see how people might be concerned about animal welfare and an increase in the farming and killing of animals. I eat meat, but think it’s a moral failing that I do – and furthermore, I think that the immorality of meat-eating will be the subject of a moral consensus in my lifetime.

I’m not as confident but at least people are having the discussion. One can see it in a review of Farmageddon in the London Review of Books. The review discusses the abuses and reality of current methods of farming in the world. After hearing about all the problems modern farming creates, one would assume the best way to stop those ills would be to remove oneself from it entirely, i.e. by going vegetarian. Yet…

For a book that paints such horrific pictures of the disease, misery and squalor of factory farming, Farmageddon seems curiously determined to spare our feelings when it comes to the sacrifices that would be required in terms of our meat-eating habits.

In The American Scholar, there is a long piece about humanely raising animals for meat and the associated food movement. The entire point of the movement is to change the way farming is done because they claim to recognise animals as having moral value and deserving to be free of unnecessary suffering. Yet again…

Given all this, it’s not unreasonable to expect that these writers might advocate an end to raising and killing animals for food. But they are not prepared to take that stand.

This seems to be a common failing. I saw it myself when I read Dominion. The author lays out a strong argument about animals, suffering, farming, etc and then fails to make the only logical conclusion at the end. Perhaps it’s a strategic choice, it’s probably easier to convince people to eat less meat than stop entirely, but it feels weak. In any case, it is good that the issues are being raised and discussed. Any progress is better than none.

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