Father Andrew's Hot Body Gym

April 30, 2010

Animal Rights vs Paleo

Filed under: real talk — Lady Who Cooks @ 3:55 pm

I’ve been reading The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Micahel Pollan and have hit the section where he decides that he needs to go hunting in order to fully understand the hunter & gathering aspect of attaining food.  Yet, before he gets chance to hunt for his dinner, he comes across Peter Singer’s Animal Liberation.  After reading the book he decides. Before hunting, he needs to go vegetarian in order to see if his belief in eating animals is sound logic.  I haven’t finished this section completely, but Singer’s argument is interesting and it got me thinking about animals and if I should have a moral dilemma in eating them.  Once I finish the book, I’ll give an update on his decision to stay veggie or to go back to meat.

Today I listen to the Diana Rehm show with guest Jonathan Balcombe, he just came out with a book called Second Nature, which goes into the science and discoveries of animal pain and their sentient.   He goes into proven science that animals are more aware and feel pain more than what we originally thought.  Here’s the podcast, listen to it and riddle me this; after hearing this and knowing what we know about animals, is it right to slaughter them?  I don’t like the idea of going vegan, I was vegetarian for 6 years, but I hate the thought of what these animals go through.  I know of the health reasons to eat meat but I also believe there is a responsible path we can take as humans to ensure animals are treated better but if causing a living thing pain can be avoided, should it?

You can take the bible and say, “God doesn’t mind the eating of animals” and that’s fine, but what about today?  There are so many people eating so much beef that it’s contributing to global warming.  That’s a lot of dang beef.  My main fear though is that the cruelties these animals suffer just to become my dinner might somehow affect me spiritually.  These animals are God’s creation just like we are; I’m sure he cares for them as living beings, maybe not as much as he cares for us but I’m sure he cares.  I try to buy responsibly harvested meat, though it’s hard to find in town, but it’s not always avoidable.  So I’m debating the possibility of not eating meat at all unless I know it was done sustainably and humanely.  The jury is still out on that one though.

So fellow meat eaters, what do you think?  Do you believe that God might be a little pissed at how animals are treated?


  1. I’d strongly recommend you get yourself a copy of Lierre Kieth’s the Vegetarian Myth. A fantastic book about food that should be read by anyone, regardless of whether they are/have considered/know vegetarians.

    For years I ate no meat or poultry for moral reasons, and I was vegan briefly for around 18 months.

    Since incorporating meat and poultry back into my diet I feel, look and perform far far better.

    I will only eat free range, grass fed meat as I still disagree with the mistreatment of animals, but have realised that to try and deny that we are part of the food chain/circle is actually going against nature and not sustainable.

    Don’t take my word for it, read the book, its brilliant. There’s a good summary here:


    Comment by Simon — May 1, 2010 @ 8:32 am

  2. Hi Abbey,

    I grew up around family farms and only recently discovered the cruelty associated with factory farms. Here’s how I’ve come to think about the issue.

    The first question to ask is Singer’s: Is suffering a morally relevant feature of an act? I think most of us would agree that it is. It explains not only why we loathe the thought of someone hurting our own pets, but also why we loathe the thought of someone hurting others’ pets.

    The second question to ask is: Does the ability to suffer establish a right not to be killed unjustly, that is, a “right to life”? I’m not sure that it does. Suffering is a moral consideration, but not the only consideration. There is no presumption of a right to life until you discover a creature that can consider moral reasons. The distinction between humans and animals is just that: we can consider moral reasons; this seems to be an extra reason to pause before killing one of us. But even this only establishes a presumption and not an absolute directive against killing, since it seems permissible to even kill humans in self-defense.

    Because of these considerations, I choose to eat meat and animal products, but only meat that has been, as you noted, raised sustainably and slaughtered humanely. Milk a concern because it tends to support the veal industry (something I find immanently cruel). Nevertheless, buying from local or regional dairies seems to allay this worry.

    Also, I recently learned, when buying eggs, “cage free” doesn’t mean as much as “certified humane.” And animals used in Kosher products are slaughtered under the supervision of a Rabbi, in attempt to respect God’s creation by slaughtering animals as humanely as possible.


    Comment by Dr. Jamie Watson — May 2, 2010 @ 9:24 am

  3. Thanks for the comments guys

    The only defense I can come up with in regards to the eating of meat is the fact that we are in a cycle of life and things must die. You can’t expect a lion to become vegan because he’s killing something that can feel and although we are omnivores and have other choices of food, namely plants, doesn’t mean it is healthy for us. I think all vegans and veggies would agree that protein is important, as would scientists, but their main source of protein is soy, which has estrogen elements and is an inferior protein option.

    It has been years since I was a veggie and recently went off meat for a week for Lent, I found myself feeling terrible and emotionally unstable (more so than usual, ha). I think nutritionally speaking there is definitely a need to eat meat (i.e. the need for B12 which naturally can only be found in meat). I what I keep coming back to is the notion that we could suffer a little (inferior nutrition) in order to minimize the amount of suffering we create (slaughtering animals). I think animal rights activist would argue that animals have more of a consciousness than we thought, so why should they be excluded from living a full life? Is child born with mental retardation inferior in our society and therefore not entitled to the right to live a full life simply because they cannot comprehend the way you or I can? Do we not kill persons with intellectual disabilities since they offer no benefit to us dead, unlike a cow would?

    Simon – I’ve heard of The Vegetarian Myth but have yet to read it. Thanks for the confirmation of its quality; I think it will be my next read.

    Comment by Abby Vandegrift — May 2, 2010 @ 11:29 am

  4. Sounds good, Abbey. I’m with you. And I think I’ll check out the Vegetarian Myth as well. Two more worries to consider.

    (1) the naturalistic fallacy–because something is the case, it should be the case. Viruses are part of life’s natural cycle, too, but we don’t let them run their course just because they are natural. Similarly, rape may be a by-product of natural selection, but we still regard it as immoral.

    (2) misapplying moral terms. Lions do not have moral obligations because they do not have the capacity to consider moral reasons. This is why we punished Michael Vic and not the fighting dogs. So, we don’t blame lions, because they are under no moral obligation. Similarly, we do not blame children or mentally handicapped people who cannot consider the moral implications of their actions. This is not to say that lions would be acting immoral if they could reason, but only to say that, their inability to reason, excludes them from blame even if their actions were immoral.

    On the other hand, if a creature can consider moral reasons, and suffering is relevant, and we can mitigate suffering, we may be morally blameworthy for not doing so.

    (3) The “and we can” bit is important here. Prior to the 20th century, there weren’t healthy alternatives to meat for good nutrition. If we cannot be held responsible for being or doing something we cannot do (our skin color, our gender, etc.), then our ancestors cannot be held morally blameworthy for killing animals–even if there would be an obligation not to if circumstances were different.

    I love this discussion. Thanks for posting!

    Comment by Dr. Jamie Watson — May 2, 2010 @ 4:56 pm

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