The Ethical Eater. (Pt. 2)

So, it’s established now that ethically, for the sake of the animals, being vegetarian and vegan is a good thing. Now, what would be in the impact on other human beings for these diets?

It’s perhaps a perplexing question, but I grew up in a village that depended on it’s farming trade, of both livestock and crops. I understand the process a little, and ethics is a universal thing for anything living, whether man or beast.

So, let’s take the hypothetical situation that over the space of three years, the eating trends of the UK change dramatically. Let’s say the 12% of the population identifying as vegetarian or vegan in 2014, has now grown rapidly to 60% of the population in 2017. The consumers buying meat and animal products are now just 40% of the market, more shelf space is dedicated to fresh fruit and vegetables.

This has now had an effect on farmers. Hundreds of them have now had to face reality of either changing from farming animals to crops, going out of business all together, or fight from year to year to be the supplier to slaughter houses. The fishing trade has now died down as less people eat fish, slaughter houses have closed. Butchers are obsolete as people now just pick up their meat from the supermarket.

Is it ethical that this rapid shift has happened and cost people their livelihoods? No, it is not ethical. Human nature dictates that there are good people, and there are bad people, so in effect there are those that grow crops that we live, and there are people who raise animals for meat, which we don’t. We don’t always agreed with everyone, so is it such a bad thing if people still produce meat because tradition dictates we eat meat, and over centuries, communities have been built around farming?

It is far from ethical to raise animals for slaughter, but now, we have specific breeds for these things, we have modified what was once wild and untamed to become something they are not – include domesticated animals. It is my belief that this domestication of animals is unethical, but history has dictate it as a necessity. The balance on the scales is somewhat hard to grasp.

On the one hand, it’s unethical to raise animals for slaughter, and on the other, it is unethical to put people out of business and make local economies suffer that are dependent on that business. So, is being meat-free ethical for human beings? No.

I will never be someone who is PETA obsessed and try to tell everyone I know to become vegetarian because it’s the right thing to do. The right thing to do, is whatever you think is right, unfortunately. My belief system is just that, it is mine, and I am not going to try to convince people to adopt it. I will however, make one suggestion: having one or two days a week being meat-free isn’t that bad, and at least it’s better, even just for a day in a hypothetical situation (we’ve already established it doesn’t save any animals).

There is definitely a culture of superiority amongst those that do not eat meat, that I guess, sometimes I buy into, but having my normal head on, I understand why it happens and I can’t really say much, for 27 years out of my life, I have eaten meat and been fine with it. It’s more about what I’m doing now, and the fact that, I seem to have conditioned myself to be nauseous around meat. That smell at the butchers counter, or even cooking meat (which I still have to do at work), is very off putting for me, but again, that is an example of how it’s unethical – those employed on those counters would be out of work.

You have to always attack things from both sides, I will always try to do that. I don’t always live on both sides though, but this time I have. I hope that these posts have created some food for thought, although I’m sure some people have glazed over it because it’s a bit deep to be talking about ethics. My aim here is just to put something out there for discussion.

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