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Urban Druid: Vegetarian Ethics

Updated on October 12, 2008

This is a slightly different take on vegetarian ethics. The standard arguments for vegetarianism generally involve the desire not to eat animals, or the desire to avoid the health concerns associated with eating meat. Those are fine reasons for becoming a vegetarian, but they are not the only reasons for choosing a vegetarian diet. Occasionally, people who have no moral problem eating meat chose to become vegetarians because of the difficulty of obtaining ethically produced meat products.

For those of us that dwell in large cities, obtaining fresh foodstuffs is almost impossible. The bulk of meat, poultry, and fish are highly processed, or at the very least, packaged and quite often sent from overseas. For instance, it is possible to purchase New Zealand beef and lamb in Europe, and China is increasingly becoming a major exporter of foodstuffs to many countries around the world. The globalization of the food supply is a concern in and of itself, but it also makes it nigh impossible to verify whether or not the animal which is sliced and diced under the fluorescent lights of the meat counter lived and died well.

As well we know, not all meat comes from ethical sources. There are multitudes of major slaughterhouses known for inefficiency and cruelty, and from these places come horrific reports of failure to stun and properly kill animals, allowing live chickens, pigs, cows and sheep to suffer incredibly torturous deaths rather than giving them a quick and painless death which they deserve at the very least. We are all aware of the horrors of battery farming of chickens, of mass production of beef and pork where animals are herded into large barns, unable to move or ever see the sun. The list of cruelties is almost never ending, and the litany of moral crimes is documented in many places, just a few of which are itemized below.

These stories are not for the squeamish.

Animals Processed Before Death

More Bovine Horror Stories

Bird Cruelty

USDA Horrors

Eating meat from such sources simply encourages cruelty and the continuing dehumanization of our planet as we over breed and then turn to extreme measures such as battery farming to support populations which continue to thoughtlessly grow pregnancy by pregnancy with little to no regard for the future of the very planet which supports them.

This alone is more than enough reason to pursue a vegetarian diet, however if you wish to include meat as a part of your diet, there are ways to eat meat ethically.

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