What’s So Natural about Butchery?: The Artifice of Eating Animals

Eating Plants

One of the most common justifications for eating animals is that it’s “natural.” It’s considered natural, in part, because animals eat animals in the wild. Why should humans, as confirmed omnivores, be exempt from this struggle for survival? If it’s natural for a lion to hunt down and kill a gazelle, why is not equally natural for a human being to hunt down and kill a gazelle?

Standard objections to this argument stress the fact that humans are the only species with a moral compass. We are the only species that can design and promote plans explicitly intended to make the world a more peaceful place. We should therefore not eat animals. Such a response seems perfectly reasonable.

The practical problem with it, though, is that defenders of the “red in tooth and claw” viewpoint use the moral distinction to make the wrong case. Instead of  interpreting our moral capacity…

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