Friday, September 9, 2011

Eating Humanely

A column in the NY Times today asks readers to submit their thoughts on ways in which food for them has become an ethical issue.  The majority of comments express deep thoughtfulness on the choices we face in eating food that has been made without harming animals.  A few however were quite perturbed by the "self-righteousness" they felt emanated from these remarks, and found them offensive.

Expressing irritation at those who are concerned with the welfare of animals seems a protest too much. Being rude to meat eaters is one thing, but expressing one's personal feelings on the matter (especially when asked by the column!) is quite another. Maybe you feel they are insulting you by their own moral choices, as if their moral claim is accusatory. I think that's probably fair. But is that so wrong? When two people disagree over a moral issue, the accusation goes both ways.

Animals feel pain and suffer. You may agree and still not be bothered by contributing to it, feeling as though for you it is right. That is your choice. But at least allow others the dignity of making their own choices based on what they feel is right.

Personally I still struggle with the moral temptation to derive my culinary pleasures from animal flesh.  Philosophically, I actually don't see much harm in killing an animal, as long as it is painless.  I'm not sure I think domestic animals really miss their "friends".   But they do suffer in confinement, and I would prefer that they be kept in stimulating environs.  There are a number of ways today of getting certified humane meat and dairy products - at a marginal expense.  The Chipotle chain of mexican taquerias guarantees its meat and dairy to be humane. 

If you are concerned about animal welfare and yet still can't quit the delicious flavor of meat and dairy, I would suggest contacting your local grocer.  I think many of today's consumers would appreciate knowing that their products haven't come at the expense of undue suffering.  They just need the choice.

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