Thursday, 22 March 2012

The Difficult Job of Justifying Meat

While most people eat meat, and almost all meat comes from factory farms, it seems that justifying both factory farming AND meat eating generally, is becoming a difficult challenge - especially among well education urban types.

I was reminded of this on Tuesday night when I attended the Intelligence Squared debate 'should animals be off the menu?': Hosted by the Wheeler Centre: at the Melbourne Town Hall.

Speaking to a full house, which clearly included many animal advocates, the team lead by Peter Singer appeared to have the much easier task.

The photo was taken on my mobile phone. I was seated in the second level and apparently it was the largest turn out for a debate yet. 

Those who were tasked with defending meat eating struggled from the start. The first speaker for the negative, Fiona Chambers, was not able to provide a coherent account of why animals should be on the menu, and during question time was seemingly on the verge of tears. But while the arguments were challenging for the negative, Adrian Richardson proved a popular and charismatic speaker. 

I  have long admired Peter Singer and felt that his capacity of logical debate was second to none. Yet Phil Wollen was immensely popular with the audience.

In the end the debate was won by the affirmative - animals should be off the menu. Some people appeared to change their mind as a result of the debate. However, I can't help but notice that the debate result stand in stark contrast to the reality of meat consumption. Phil Wollen reminded the audience that in the time it took of the debate to be held, 13 million animals were killed for meat. Seems like a large number if most people agree that animals should be off the menu! 

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