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PoiPoi's avatar

If animals consume other animals for their own survival, then why is it so immoral for humans to eat other animals?

Asked by PoiPoi (274points) June 5th, 2008

Humans are animals too, so should we be blamed for being selfish and cruel for eating animals for our own survival, and all be ashamed of that? I’ve been pretty much stuck to my diet, ever since I first tasted meat, dairy, eggs, and other animal food related products. I payed no attention about what was I exactly eating, until I felt empathy for animals and awareness of how they’re being treated. I want to be a supporter of protecting animals and eating non-animal products, but I’m reluctant that I’m a hypocrite. Should every human, including me, feel like a pile of *#@$ for doing this all the time? Why it so hard for us to shake this habit off? Why?

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33 Answers

Skyrail's avatar

I don’t mind eating meats and such from animals as heck, it’s our survival (so to speak, yes we can live on non-meat diets but sometimes it lacks some minerals/vitamins, which yes can be recovered…it’s besides the point) but it’s the way the animals are treated before they get killed. Yes killing is a brutal thing and not exactly the top of many people’s lists of things to do, but cooping up hundreds/thousands of chickens…is it really needed? Then again as the demands for food grow it can be hard to supply at a reasonable price….I’m going totally off the point. Basically I don’t mind eating the meats, I just have something niggling me about the way the animals are treated. There. I think. Tad bit lengthy eh?

MissAnthrope's avatar

I don’t think it is immoral, based on the reason you state in your question. I am a biologist and I can’t get past thinking of humans as animals. We have evolved with canine teeth, making it rather obvious that meat is an important part of our diet.

Frankly, the choice of vegetarianism as practiced in the U.S. is a luxury many people in this world don’t have. I don’t know if many vegetarians know how privileged they are that they have a diverse and stable enough food source to make the choice not to eat certain protein sources. :)

RedmannX5's avatar

I think its just because people regard other humans as being more “advanced” than other animals. They view humans with a more sentimental mentality than a turtle or snake

wildflower's avatar

I don’t feel guilty about eating meat….at all!

Harp's avatar

I don’t think it’s helpful to view this issue in terms of “morality” and “guilt”, PoiPoi, as if it’s some kind of sin to eat meat. As a vegetarian myself, for me it comes down to compassion. I don’t know if, or to what extent, other animals are capable of feeling compassion, but we humans certainly do, and we seem to be happiest when we let ourselves be guided by it. I found that back when I was eating meat, I was choking back my own compassion that I naturally felt toward animals. I finally decided that I wasn’t being true to my better instincts and stopped.

I don’t feel that makes me any better, but it does make me happier. Others can do as they please; I won’t think any less of them for it.

Are we biologically equiped to eat meat? Sure. But our versatile array of teeth and digestive tract give us a choice, not an obligation, to eat meat. I chose not to. I take no special pains with my diet, no additional supplements; I just eat pretty much what I feel like eating. After 17 years, I’d think that if I were going to have problems because of the way I’m eating, I’d know it by now.

Mtl_zack's avatar

do vegetarians hate vegatables? vegetables are sentient being, mainly because they can receive commands from dna. what do you think of the corn that suffers when it gets collected in the harvest machine with all tjose blades?

i feel perfectly fine eating meat. its part of our duty in the food chain. oif we dont eat cows, then there will be less grass for insects because the cows would need more land to graze. this drop in the number of insects will trigger the extinction of many birds, and you can get the picture from there.

scamp's avatar

Two words.. Jeffrey Dahmer

elchoopanebre's avatar

Meat rules.

/thread

MissAnthrope's avatar

I agree that the meat industry is pretty sad in this country, but I also have to point out that millions of small animals are killed by combines and other farm equipment every year as they harvest the soybeans other veggies that even the more conscientious eaters wind up consuming. The problem lies in the mass production of food.

Harp's avatar

Yes, it’s impossible to avoid killing.

Melonking's avatar

We are meant to eat meat, it is the way of the UNIVERSE AHAHAHAHAHAHA BOOOOOMMMM wolves howling in the background and such O_O

buster's avatar

i practice Jainism.its a religion in india. i sweep in front of me when i walk. if i kill a bug im going to go to hell. the ultimate goal in life for us Jains is to starve to death.

simone54's avatar

It’s not. It’s called the food chain.

trogdor_87's avatar

@buster
I don’t mean to be rude, but that sounded kind of harsh towards Jainists. But what do I know I’m not a Jainist. But living a life like that would be rough!

afghanmoose's avatar

@buster,so if a bug is attacking u or an animal and u kill it,u still go to he’ll?
Being a vegitarian is living a pretty pompous lifestyle(in my opinion)but I don’t mind,I just don’t eat pork.

tupara's avatar

If God didn’t want us to eat animals, She wouldn’t have made them so tasty.

marinelife's avatar

Many earlier peoples that hunted including some American Indian tribes and Hawaiians gave thanks to the animals they were eating and celebrated their spirits. I always liked the idea of that.

Bri_L's avatar

First my wife decided after one year of marriage to become a vegetarian and I am a terrible cook. I got used to it. She doesn’t do it because when she had anatomy in college she saw the similarity of human tissue to animal and it never left her.

second. PoiPoi you have my favorite Icon/name combination running right now.

shockvalue's avatar

The key phrase is “for their own survival.” As conscious, semi-intelligent humans living in a 1st world country, consuming flesh is hardly in direct correlation to our survival. Considering the plethora of alternative means of sustenance we can achieve by a simple trip to the super market, the necessity for meat has become null.

The question you raise in regards to our [as a populace] seemingly indelible reliance on animal consumption requires a deep look into the ingrained habitual nature of our society. Children raised as vegetarians tend to remain such. And though some people choose to convert to a vegetarian lifestyle, the transformation is rather uncommon.

shockvalue's avatar

Quite often the reason is simply the reluctance to change. Overhauling your entire diet can seem like a tremendous task, one many are unwilling to undertake. As a species we tend to stick to the familiar, the safe. For generations meat was the main course of every meal, vegetables and such were considered side dishes. To radically change this perception takes a remarkable leap of faith. And frankly, some people just like the taste of seared flesh too much to consider the animals.

Harp's avatar

Ironically, we may be reaching a point where eating meat is threatening our survival. Meat is about the least efficient way possible to convert arable land into food. It takes 13 pounds of grain to produce 1 pound of beef (and most of that pound of beef is water).

We’ve seen the effect that diverting 20% of the US corn crop for ethanol production has had on the world food supply: crisis in the third world and higher prices here. Now consider that at least 50% of the US corn crop goes into livestock feed. Then consider that 70% of the planet’s arable land is devoted to livestock production.

It may have been true in the past that vegetarianism was a luxury that only us rich folks could indulge, but it could soon be that meat will become a luxury the planet can no longer afford. Meat is the “cheap oil” of the food world.

shockvalue's avatar

Very well put, thank you Harp.

waterskier2007's avatar

your question is biased because you imply that it is immoral for us to eat animals, when it is not. god put animals here for our survival, and so im gonna eat them. besides who doesnt enjoy a burger. damn vegetarians

Harp's avatar

That reminds me, there’s a school of thought that links eating meat with increased aggression, but I don’t know if there’s anything to that.

Zaku's avatar

Great points, Harp and shockvalue!

Also consider the story of Brazil, where most of the Amazon rain forest is, and where most of the species of life on the planet live (often in very small areas of the forest, perhaps most of them undiscovered by humans). Seeing the USA as a great success story, decades ago they started burning down the Amazon rain forest and converting it to low grade cattle pasture in a futile attempt to follow in the glorious footsteps of the USA, wiping out countless species forever. Amazon rain forest does not grow back like other forests. And humans are excited about the cost of gas going up, which they mostly use to pointlessly commute back and forth to corporate jobs that they mostly dislike.

surlygirl's avatar

my SO’s sister became so ill after she converted to vegetarianism that she was hospitalized. her body requires that she eats animals to get certain types of protein to stay healthy. although she does get by with only eating chicken and fish.

Trance24's avatar

I think what a lot of the people typically have a problem with when consuming is the treatment that the animal went through. Usually in the wild other animals quickly kill and eat there prey, not saying all animals do but most. Humans however raise and torture a lot of the time the animals they raise. Or they are kept inhumanly, and treated like prisoners. I’m all down with people hunting, because its quick and nothing is wasted. And it also keeps the animal population down, to prevent them from getting hurt or attacked in the human environment.

Bri_L's avatar

Great point Trance24

nikipedia's avatar

I used to work with rats in college. Pretty frequently, the mother rats would decide they’d accidentally given birth to too many babies. So, they ate the “extra” babies.

Animals do LOTS of shit we would never do. I don’t see how “animals do it too” (or “my friend Timmy did it” or “well you did when you were my age”) is any kind of justification, ever, for anything.

I don’t really think there’s a good excuse for eating meat, and I hate to pawn this argument off on a book but if this issue concerns you I strongly suggest The Omnivore’s Dilemma—it’s a good starting place, although full of flaws.

delirium's avatar

Also, if you find the history of us eating meat interesting, It keeps coming up in this book i’m reading right now: Sex, Time, and Power. (Not as weird as it sounds. Its a science book.)

shockvalue's avatar

Isn’t that what science is all about?

XrayGirl's avatar

eating animals is not immoral AND it is delicious.

shockvalue's avatar

How is it not immoral?

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