Further Thoughts on Happy Meat


Spencer Lo

My last post explored the ethics of consuming “happy meat,” which was prompted by Nicholas Kristof’s recent NYT article on the matter—with great enthusiasm, he endorsed it as an ethical alternative to the consumption of factory-farmed animals. I attempted to show why this view is deeply mistaken by briefly sketching an argument from philosopher Jeff McMahan’s paper. Here, I want to raise the question of whether, from an animal advocates perspective, there is anything positive to be said about shifting the public consciousness away from consumption of factory-farmed meat to “happy meat”—encouraged by Kristof—notwithstanding the fact that both are problematic. In other words, although influential people like Kristof are ultimately advocating an unethical practice, is that nevertheless a welcome change in some respects? Should the change be encouraged to some extent? Read more

More on the Vegan Dialogues

Matthew Blaisdell

This is a summation/expansion of my comments (see post & comments here) relating to the NY Times Op-Ed in which the writer likened the killing of animals for meat consumption to the Holocaust.

I know only about as much as the general public regarding animal rights/law.  I do think that the issues involved are fascinating, difficult and complex.  What strikes me is what I will call the ‘moralizing’ tenor of much of the dialogue.  I call these dialogues ‘moralizing’ because, to me, they rely on assumptions about ethics applied to a code of behavior, and are imbued with strong judgments about those behaviors.  What has been happening is that those who focus on the ‘immorality’ of factory farming have been attacked for not subscribing to the ‘immorality’ of eating animal products.  For example, see a selection from the postings made by a friend of mine:

“Actually, I think many meat eaters are a self-righteous bunch … I long ago gave up trying to convince meat eaters to change after I realized that theirs is much less a rational choice, than a thoughtless submission to a base urge.”

To me, such statements (as well as those likening the consumption of animal products to murder or the Holocaust) are either intended to introduce the listener to this moral code by way of a provocative statement, or to communicate to a listener who subscribes to the same moral code.  I am concerned with is the first of these motives.   Continue reading

Vegan With a Vengeance

Tara Dugo

On November 22, 2009, the New York Times ran an op ed that discussed, of all things, veganism.  (Previously discussed on this blawg on November 24, 2009 and November 27, 2009.)  The op ed, which was written by Gary Steiner, a Professor of Philosophy at Bucknell University, really delved into the issues that vegans are faced with in today’s “meat-crazed society.”  While both entertaining and impassioned, Mr. Steiner asked the readers of the New York Times to basically think before they ate this Thanksgiving.  He also discussed that, just because the turkey that you are buying is labeled “free-cage” or “free-range” does not mean that the animal that you are about to ingest lived a long, comfortable life.  Instead, its life was “short and miserable” just like the turkeys that lived their short lives in factory farms.  One theme that ran throughout his article was the idea that nonhuman animals are exploited for man’s satisfaction and that this is the result of man’s feelings of superiority, since man is intelligent and compassionate.  As Mr. Steiner so perfectly stated, just because animals may not think on the same plane as humans, does not justify us using them as “organic toys.”

Mr. Steiner’s article is clearly a comment on the property paradigm with regards to animals.  It is the fact that animals are property in the law that they are exploited for human usage.  Enter veganism.  Strict vegans, as Mr. Steiner pointed out, have an abolitionist ideology when it comes to animal exploitation.  While this ideology is largely on the fringe of societal thought, a small shift is beginning.  More and more individuals are adapting a new attitude towards animals, realizing that they are, and certainly should in a legal sense be more than property.  The mere fact that the New York Times published the article by Mr. Steiner shows that animal welfare and veganism are making their way into minds of the mainstream.   Continue reading

Where Have All The Rational People Gone?

[The following post is written by one my Animal Law students who prefers to remain anonymous –dnc]

I read an article recently that really offended me. The article was written on November 21, 2009 by Gary Steiner and was published in the New York Times Op-Ed section (Steiner’s piece has already been discussed  on this blog here).

The first line in this article that bothered me actually did not originate from him. He quotes Issac Bashevis Singer in his story “The Letter Writer” as saying that the killing of animals for food is the “eternal Treblinka.” For those of you who are not aware, Treblinka was a Nazi extermination camp. In one year there were 850,000 people killed there. The problem I have with Singer’s comparison is that there was no benefit whatsoever to the Nazis by killing these people. Of course many Animal Rights activists do not think it is right to kill animals for human benefit, but you would be hard pressed to find anyone who denies that the humans who do kill animals gain a benefit from them. In fact, I think the whole issue is whether it is right for humans to kill animals for their benefit. You may not feel the benefit is justified, but we are not talking about wanton slaughter like there was in Treblinka.

Please just read this short article about Treblinka at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Treblinka_extermination_camp, and then I feel that you will agree that to even repeat this ridiculous comparison destroys any validity that could possibly have come out of this article. That is my problem with Steiner. What would possess him to read this ridiculous comparison and then quote it? Obviously he read it and said something to the effect of “hey, wait a second, that’s right. Slaughtering animals for a benefit to human’s is exactly the same as a mass extermination of humans for absolutely no reason.” And then he decided to quote it. All I can say to him is, well I think Abraham Lincoln said it best, sometimes it is “better to remain silent and be thought a fool then to open your mouth and remove all doubt.”

Continue reading