April 15, 2009 at 6:58 am
I am a vegetarian by choice – that is, I converted from a hard core meat eater to an equally hard core vegetarian (some 15 years ago). And I would like the people the world over to become vegetarians as well. However, I firmly believe that in order to make people understand and accept the vegetarian way of life, one need to take only the environmental plank and nothing else. The moment we start to talk of animal rights, we end up dividing the population into two opposing camps – animal killers and vegetarians. I also firmly believe that whatever you eat had life in it – whether you eat animals or you eat meat. Morally speaking a vegetarian cannot justify killing plants and yet talk about animal rights. On the other hand the environmental stance is such that everyone is on the same side – one about which both plant eaters and animal eaters are equally interested because our continued existence depends on environment protection.
April 15, 2009 at 12:44 pm
I agree that the environmental argument for vegetarianism is a strong one, and that it is indeed a fantastic way to win people over to the new diet. However, the animal rights standpoint is still important if we want to end factory farming and other forms of animal exploitation. There are many environmentalists who eat locally produced organic meat because they don’t see the harm in using animals for food if it is not harming the earth by coming from a factory farm. The only way we’ll ever see a meat-free world is to educate people on the rights of animals.
You also bought up that a vegetarian cannot morally justify eating plants. This is not true, however. Animals have a right to a life free from human-inflicted pain and suffering. The simple fact that animals can experience pain means that it is morally unjustifiable for us to cause them pain. Plants, on the other hand, are not sentient beings. There is no indication that a plant can feel pain. Which means that we can eat plant life with no worries about causing suffering.
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