Defending Meat

By now many of you have probably heard about The New York Times hosting an essay contest and seeking entries on why it is ethical to eat meat. Personally, I was floored when I found out about the contest and read the rules. Really….The New York Times wants 600-word essays that defend why it is right for humans eat meat?  What has our society come to? 

To add to interesting nature of this essay contest, just look at the judges. Michael Pollan as a judge? That would be like me judging an essay contest about why it’s ethical to be a vegan. Clearly, he and several of the other judges are polarized against this issue. 

On top of that, I find that the question itself is a bit confusing. I believe that many responses from agriculturalists will be centered around the point about how we raise meat ethically, and that is an important point. But the focus of this question is why it is ethical to eat meat. It is a clearly a different topic and one that might be a bit harder to address. 

At first, I brushed off the thought of entering this contest. Of course, I convinced myself that “I don’t have time for it” and if I did, do I want to submit an essay that has no shot of winning because one of the judges is Michael Pollan? But the more I thought about it, I knew that I had to submit something. After all, can I really have a blog titled Go Beyond the Barn and not walk the talk? 

I’m sure it won’t be a winner, so in an effort to hopefully get a bit more visibility for my essay, here it is: 

Before I begin, it is important to make the clear distinction that humans are exceptional. We are unlike other animals in the respect that we are the only true moral species and possess rights and duties. This makes us uniquely different from other animals including cows, dogs and any other animal that you can think of.  My perspective goes beyond the fact that my roots are in farming and I have a sincere appreciation for how today’s farmers care for their animals. I believe that eating meat is at the core of who we are as human beings. 

First, let’s start at the beginning. Our ancestors were hunters and gatherers and they consumed both plants and animals. Scientific evidence supports this fact. We see signs of it in our own bodies including how our teeth and entire digestive system are formed. If humans were supposed to be strictly herbivores, wouldn’t our bodies and digestive tracts be similar to other herbivores? However, we are not and therefore have completely a different system than cows, horses and other animals that consume a vegetarian diet. 

A second and closely related point is that meat offers many health benefits, something that we’ve known for years and years. Meat provides many nutrients that the human body needs, which simply are not available through other natural sources. Nutritionists and medical professionals agree that animal source foods are especially critical for development of infants and children and are important for humans of all ages to ensure optimal health and function.

Finally, we are a part of the circle of life. We know that animals kill other animals in nature. As humans, we represent that circle of life by using farm animals to fulfill our nutritional requirements. According to the USDA, 98 percent of today’s farms are family owned and operated. These families have a commitment to providing the utmost care to their animals, resulting in a safe food supply that we can trust. 

These points and countless others support the statement that it is ethical to eat meat.  I proudly consume animal products with confidence and encourage others to do so as well. Enjoy that hamburger at your summer picnic and the turkey prepared for your Thanksgiving feast. After all, it is part of our history, beneficial for our wellbeing and natural to human life. 

Now that you’ve read my essay, what points will your essay include?

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5 Responses to Defending Meat

  1. Pingback: is meat for dinner? « six blind guys

  2. Joel says:

    Good essay. That and a couple other posts on your blog got me thinking, and I wrote a post over on Six Blind Guys mulling over your ideas and the connection between how we farm our food and your claim that humans are exceptional: http://6blindguys.wordpress.com/2012/03/30/is-meat-for-dinner/. I agree with your point about the uniqueness of human persons, but I think you’ve got to strengthen that part of your argument to gain a hearing among radical animal rights advocates.

    • raechelks says:

      I’m glad that my posts have encouraged you to consider these points related to agriculture and where food comes from. Unfortunately, there are many consumers that think food simply comes from the grocery store. Still, it is a lot easier to educate consumers that are ignorant as compared to the radical animal rights activists. I believe that those of us in agriculture need to do a much better job sharing our story specifically to general consumers where I believe that we can have an impact, one conversation at a time.

  3. Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us and the New York Times! I submitted an essay of my own- check it out on my first blog post and let me know what you think. I hope they get an overwhelming response! http://foragetophilosophy.wordpress.com/

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