Is It Wrong to Eat Animals?

Eating meat appeals, but the cost is measured in millions of slaughtered animals. This has convinced many that vegetarianism is morally superior to a carnivorous diet. Increasingly, those who take pleasure in consuming animals find it a guilty pleasure. Are they correct? That depends on the magnitude of harm done to food animals but also on what sort of a good, if any, meat eating affords people. This essay aims to estimate both variables and concludes that standard arguments for moral vegetarianism are significantly misplaced. That is because the contribution of meat eating to lives of excellence is underestimated and overall harms to animals consequent on practices of meat eating are overestimated. The answer to the question posed in the title is, therefore, “No.”
Eating meat appeals, but the cost is measured in millions of slaughtered animals. This has convinced many that vegetarianism is morally superior to a carnivorous diet. Increasingly, those who take pleasure in consuming animals find it a guilty pleasure. Are they correct? That depends on the magnitude of harm done to food animals but also on what sort of a good, if any, meat eating affords people. This essay aims to estimate both variables and concludes that standard arguments for moral vegetarianism are significantly misplaced. That is because the contribution of meat eating to lives of excellence is underestimated and overall harms to animals consequent on practices of meat eating are overestimated. The answer to the question posed in the title is, therefore, “No.”

Loren Lomasky
Published in: Social Philosophy and Policy
2013 30 (2) Pages 177-200