Z is for Zoophagy

| April 12, 2014

In his essay, “Give Thanks for Meat”, Jay Bost argues that “eating meat raised in specific circumstances is ethical; eating meat raised in other circumstances is unethical.” In his introduction, Bost lists several ethical reasons why people should not eat meat: “animals are raised and killed in cruel conditions; grain that could feed hungry people is fed to animals; the need for pasture fuels deforestation; and by eating meat, one is implicated in the killing of a sentient being.” As a former vegetarian like Bost, these are all issues I have personally struggled with. Bost refers to Aldo Leopold in his critique as to what specifically defines right and wrong meat production. If the production preserves “the integrity, stability and beauty of the biotic community”, then it is right. The opposite of this is considered the “wrong” way of producing meat. Part of the reason why I was a vegetarian for so many years was because I felt the ethics within meat production was wrong. I mistakenly believed that all meat was produced in an unethical fashion. I wanted to feed myself not at the expense of another living, feeling being. However, Bost argues that the ethically wrong way of producing meat is currently changing as there are any examples of “ecologically beneficial, pasture-based systems.” Bost, an agroecologist himself, asserts that animals are important parts of sustainable agricultural systems as they “cycle nutrients, aid in land management and convert sun to food in ways that are nearly impossible for us to do without fossil fuel.” I became a vegetarian after watching hours and hours of documentary footage thoroughly describe the atrocious conditions in which animals become the food on our plates. However, if I had educated myself fully, I would have found that not all food is produced in this unethical, wrong manner.