Should I Be an Ethical Vegetarian?
It is immoral to eat meat.
This may be a Q1 violation if you make exceptions (such as eating meat on "special occasions") or you do not consider certain kinds of living things (such as fish) to be "meat" for these purposes.
If your reason for believing eating meat to be immoral is that you think it is disrespectful of life, and you have a rigorous definition of "respect for life," then this is not a Q2 violation.
If your reason is that the amount of harm in the world should be minimized, then you need to carefully define "harm." For example, can animals be eaten if they are treated well during their lives and are killed painlessly?
If your reason is based on eating animals being unnatural for humans or bad for the environment, then you may have Q2 problems if your evidence is not rigorous or is open to interpretation.
There are many questions that must be considered if one is a vegetarian for ethical reasons. For example, would you say it is immoral to:
- Eat animals that are not "thinking" animals.
- Eat insects.
- Accidentally eat insects while eating fruit and vegetables.
- Use animal-related products (eggs, leather, products tested on animals, medications made from animals).
- Eat food from a farm that uses work animals.
- Eat food from a farm that fertilizes with animal waste.
- Eat food from a farm that kills animals that eat or damage crops.
- Eat animals because there is no other food source available.
- Eat food cooked in a non-vegetarian kitchen.
- Have dinner with someone who is not a vegetarian.
Depending on your reasons for vegetarianism, you may also need to consider the morality of other topics such as:
- Using animals for other purposes (pets, transportation, law enforcement, military applications, search and rescue, educational display).
- Selectively breeding animals.
- Raising animals in captivity to eventually replenish wild populations.
- Clearing land for human habitation or farming.
- Killing animals (such as terminally ill pets) for humanitarian reasons.
- Engaging in cultural practices involving animals (hunting, making clothing, sports, etc.)
It’s good to consider whether your reasons for a certain belief should be compelling to people who may not share your assumptions. This may (for social reasons) be particularly important if you conclude that it is immoral not to be vegetarian.
This post is based on an excerpt from Ask Yourself to be Moral, by D. Cancilla, available at LuLu.com and Amazon.com. See the 2Q system page for details of the philosophical system mentioned in this post.