After discussing animal ethics, and whether or not we have an obligation to regard animals with the same moral standard we do humans, I couldn’t envision eating meat without struggling through an internal moral conflict. Singer’s “speciesism” resonated most with me. I find it slightly foreign to place the same moral significance on animals as humans, but logically following the concept of speciesism, I can actually place some reasoning behind it.
Our intuitions guide us to believe discrimination against a being based on non-moral components is wrong. And I think we could all agree this intuition makes sense. As Singer pointed out, we consider racism and sexism as immoral, why not include speciesism in that group. If at one point, one human thought they were “better” than another because of something as remedial as skin color or gender, than it seems as though belonging to a certain species is just as insignificant.
Defending the consumption of meat as morally permissible because animals aren't moral agents is a common strategy. But what excludes an animal from being part of the moral community? Rationality or cognitive ability? That doesn’t hold because there are some animals that are more rational or are capable of greater cognition than human beings (i.e. coma patients, mentally ill…). So if we obliged by this principle, then we wouldn't have moral obligations to a group of human beings. Is it emotional connections? Pets allow for emotional connections. Being able to feel pain? Animals are able to feel pain. What then allows us to hold ourselves higher on the moral scale than animals?
Cutting meat out of your diet can be easy nowadays with the plethora of meat alternatives, and just as tasty. You don’t have to give up everything if this moral dilemma is causing you to lose sleep, Oreos happen to be vegan.
I couldn’t come up with a defense to allow meat eating as morally permissible, but I’d like to know if anyone else did!