The Moral Complexities of Eating Meat, a new book published earlier this month, raises the issue about why we don’t eat more roadkill.
We first heard about this book through a piece this weekend in Salon.
In the chapter excerpted, the issue argued was that vegetarians should consider eating meat.
Vegetarians should consider eating meat
The argument is this:
In a world of industralized farming and feed lots, is eating meat ever a morally responsible choice? Is eating organic or free range sufficient to change the moral equation? Is there a moral cost in not eating meat?
The book has twelve essays written by moral philosophers with their view surrounding meat eating by examining various implications and consequences of our food choices.
Some argue for the moral permissibility of eating meat by suggesting views such as farm animals would not exist and flourish otherwise, and the painless death that awaits is no loss to them.
Are french fries from McDonald’s a problem?
Others consider more specific examples like whether buying french fries at McDonalds is just as problematic as ordering a Big Mac due to the action’s indirect support of a major purveyor of meat.
In the article profiled, regarding roadkill, Donald Bruckner argued that vegetarians should consider consuming road kill.
For as I have taken pains to argue, if you fail to eat the already-dead animal and you purchase vegetables instead, then you are supporting a practice that causes extensive harm to animals that is unnecessary, in violation of (P3).
Here is Bruckner’s argument:
We are obligated not to purchase and consume such meat because doing that supports practices that cause extensive, unnecessary harm to animals. So we are obligated to eat something else. Vegetables are something else. But so is roadkill. So the Factory Harm Argument supports eating vegetables and it supports eating roadkill, since eating both avoids supporting factory farms.
It is an interesting debate. In the United States, individuals are allowed to collect and consume roadkill with reporting requirements in place to protect against poachers who illegally take game they claim is road kill. It’s even encouraged in some states with charitable and government agencies collecting, butchering and distributing road-kill meat to needy individuals.
Since it’s already dead, eating road kill is considered by some the most humane way of consumption.
Meatless Monday’s premise is that if we all eat no meat for at least one day, it would be beneficial to the environment. Eating roadkill, it can be argued, obligates those concerned about critters and the environment and the cost of producing vegetables, encourages consumers to get at least some of their protein from meat that otherwise would go to waste.