Monday, 26 March 2012

Your Challenge: explain why eating meat is acceptable

In a post last week I recounted by experience at the Intelligence Squared debate in which the team speaking in favour of eating meat struggled to develop a single coherent argument and where one member of the pro-meat eating team, also a pig farmer, was apparently almost in tears during question time.

It seems that I'm not the only person curious about how you might justify eating meat (in cases where other food is available). The New York Times would also like to know how meat eaters justify their actions. They are calling for 600 word entries. Submissions are due by April 8.

Entries will be judges by Peter Singer, Michael Pollan, Mark Bittman, Jonathan Safran Foer and Andrew Light. While Carol Adams has already responded to the judging panel by arguing that sexism is alive and well at the New York Times, it is nonetheless a tough panel and I am therefore hoping to see some very highly quality argument. 

I would love to enter, but try as I might, I just can't think of a sustainable, coherent arguments. How do you justify eating meat?

Academics from the world's top ranked university have recently published findings in a top-tier peer reviewed journal that suggest that 'red meat consumption is associated with an increased risk of total, cardiovascular, and cancer mortality'. Their results were generated by following 37,698 men and 83,644 women for up to 28 years. Over the past two weeks I have tried to find a published, peer reviewed study, from a respected institution, that demonstrates that there are health benefits associated with meat consumption. So far I have drawn a blank. (If any readers know of a suitable study I would love to hear about it).

So the health questions seems to be settled - eating meat is not a good idea if longevity or avoiding cancer is a priority for you.

Environmentally it is extremely difficult to make a pro-meat argument. Meat production appears to be inefficient, wasteful of water and it generates a massive amount of waste. And of course the suffering of animals in factory farms is well documented. 

So where will the winning entry turn? Pleasure? It is certainly clear that eating meat makes many people very happy. Tradition? It is something humans have done for a VERY long time and many social events and traditions are associated with eating animals. Those seem to be the two strongest arguments. But given all the negatives associated with eating meat the winning entrant will need to be very clearer and also demonstrate why human pleasure is more important that animal suffering. A very hard gig indeed. 

I can't wait to read the winning entry - get writing!!!

No comments:

Post a Comment