Well Being

Blisstree Writers Debate: Is It Possible To Eat Meat Humanely?

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Here at Blisstree, we discuss a lot of news and opinions about eating meat or not eating meat. And because we have some writers who are vegetarians and others who are not, my editor (Briana) and I got into a healthy discussion recently about the ethics and morals behind eating meat. Specifically, we argued whether you can truly eat meat humanely, or if caring about the welfare of animals means never eating meat at all. Take a look at our debate and then let us know where you fall.

Deborah: OK, so I know we talk a lot about being vegetarian or vegan and the health benefits of it, but there are also ethical issues surrounding that choice, as you know. Since you are a meat-eater and I am not, let's talk about whether it's possible to eat meat humanely. What is your view on this?

Briana: I definitely think it's possible to eat meat humanely; just like other animals, we've been eating meat and fish for centuries as part of the natural food chain. But we're consuming meat on a scale that's unsustainable and forces the kind of factory farming that causes a lot of suffering (in both animals and humans); that's what I have a problem with.

Deborah: Yes, me too. It's hard to ignore the 16 billion animals who are killed each year for food, many of which endure lives of suffering, curelty, neglect and abuse. That's the reason I am a vegetarian. I make myself watch the videos which report cruelty and inhumane treatment of cows, chickens, turkeys and even horses, as we reported on last week, and to me, it's just not right.

Briana: Well, I think if a vegetarian or vegan diet works for you, then great! But personally, I have to say: I feel much better if I eat meat occasionally. My solution is to eat meat in moderation, and to eat it from sources where animals aren't treated that way.

Deborah: Yes, there are some small farms where ranchers raise animals in “natural” conditions, including feeding them a healthier diet of grains and produce, but the question still remains, how are they slaughtered? Some reports I have read say animals are not given painkillers (because that would end up in our meat). And even though some will make the case that their deaths are quick, is it still right to raise animals just so we can kill them? I have a hard time with that.

Briana: I suppose you could stick to eating only wild game, if that's your moral dilemma, but personally, it's factory farming, not farming itself, that I take issue with. I don't think that raising animals for food is necessarily a bad thing. We breed animals to serve our purposes as pets and work animals, too; eventually, many of them die “unnatural” deaths because we think euthanasia is more humane than letting them die “naturally.” Who's to say that a wild animal would die a more pleasant death than they will in a slaughterhouse? To me, it's most important to focus on better farming practices, kinder slaughterhouses, and a more sustainable level of meat consumption than to worry over the morals of how we manipulate nature.

Deborah: True, and good point. But knowing that animals who are raised more humanely on small sustainable farms is going to result in higher prices, do you think people will ever really rally for that?

Briana: I think that's why it's important to emphasize that people should consume less meat: If we start thinking of meat as a biweekly or weekly treat, instead of something we should eat three times a day, then it starts to seem more affordable to buy grass-fed, free-range beef.

Deborah: Yes, and it would also help control climate change and preserve some of our natural water and grain resources. But in order for people to eat less meat or buy only free-range meat, I think we need tighter pressure on the factory farming to raise their level of standards.

Briana: Exactly; I think if we focus on the whole picture, instead of guilting people over the morals of animal husbandry, then we have a better chance of impacting consumer demands, which is the most powerful way to change farming practices, if you ask me.

Deborah: Agreed. Because there are some people who are always going to believe eating meat is OK and others who don't, and we can't always change people's minds about that. But encouraging them to buy meat less often from farms that treat their animals humanely is the key (even if it's at a higher price). Thanks for the discussion!

Briana: no problem~


Photo: Thinkstock