The debates over the pros and cons of eating animals have been argued a lot during the past decade. Nowadays this ethical dilemma remains topical. Adhering to animal ethics, the video Meet Your Meat by People for Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) encourages the audience to choose a vegetarian lifestyle. The main rhetoric that supports this video is a pathos appeal that eating animals and animal products such as milk is not ethical because this dietary habit causes animals many sufferings without mentioning the cruelty of slaughters. Nonetheless, carnivorous and omnivorous animals eat the other animals, and a human being is considered to belong to the latter group. Another conflicting ethical consideration and argument is that causing conscious sufferings to animals is unethical. Nevertheless, this claim begets more confusion and scrutiny over the matter of animal ethics as there is no strict border between conscious and unconscious and whether or not to consider animals the conscious beings. The video Meet Your Meat by PETA makes people review the treatment of animals as well as appropriateness of their consumption. Unethical treatment seems to be the main argument for pro-vegetarian lifestyle. Reacting to this rhetoric, it is natural to assume that keeping animals in ethical conditions before slaughter is a compromise that pertains well to the animal ethics.
To begin with, humans are moral agents that must ensure that moral subjects are treated ethically. In the discussed case, it implies not using own force to cause them harm. Hence, killing animals for food may be acceptable in ethical terms because it serves to sustain another life. Murdering other living beings for sustaining life is also acceptable in nature since there are carnivorous and omnivorous animals. The same rhetoric is known to exist in a Christian religion (making religious sacrifices and consuming animals is not reproached). In contrast, killing animals for fun such as hunting, fishing, making luxury items, namely elephant bones, furs, etc., is unethical and unacceptable.
Furthermore, being ethical implies striving to reach the universal good. In this regard, sufferings and universal good are the inversely proportional matters. Consequently, the less sufferings an animal endures, the more ethically it is treated. Moreover, killing animals for food seems to be in compliance with a food chain structure. Considering anecdotal evidence, a person wants to have an owl as a pet but refuses to keep this bird because it must be fed with mice and chicken. Similarly, live food is needed for snakes and spiders (mice and insects). People who have these pets are not considered to be unethical because of keeping chickens for an owl in a freeze. However, keeping chickens in a freeze for personal consumption is claimed to violate the animal ethics.
Making an analogy, a person may rightfully scrutinize whether keeping a beef for feeding a dog is less ethical than eating it together with a pet, or whether it is ethical to convert a dog to a vegetarian lifestyle. In these terms, it seems to be natural to deduce that a cunning dog’s nature justifies its urge for meat. Therefore, there is another ethical dilemma that asks whether it is ethical to intervene with the established food chain of a nature. Given that a human being is on the top of this chain, the same question can be applied to people.
Partly, the ethical dilemma with a food chain is that killing less complex living organisms is not as unethical as slaughtering pigs and cows. For instance, discussing flavors, colors, and smell additives in the food industry, Schlosser (56) reveals that carmine, the substance that is known as a natural color additive that is utilized to produce red, pink, or purple color, is made from female insects Dactylopius coccus Costa. Schlosser (56) explains that a bug eats red cactus berries, and the natural color accumulates in the female bodies. The author reveals the impressive statistics that it takes around 70,000 of female insects to produce a pound of carmine (Schlosser, 56). Due to the fact that these are less complex living organisms, nobody calls it unethical to use carmine as a natural color additive.
Moreover, the contemporary food industry makes it impossible being a vegetarian even if a person refuses to consume meat, eggs, and milk products. One example is that carmine is utilized to color strawberry yogurts, candies, and other products in pink (Schlosser, 56). Another example is that even vegetable dishes such as French fries are cooked using animal fat (Schlosser, 50). These two examples illustrate how deeply the culture of consuming animals is interwoven with the human lives. Besides, it is explained that the desire for taste, smell, and color while eating is constructed on the basis of the human’s habits (Schlosser, 54). Individuals find animal food rather delicious: they are used to its smells, tastes, and color. In this regard, Dr. Aviva Romm claims that “eating pleasure is also paramount to excellent digestion”. Therefore, instead of depriving of the right to adhere to dietary habits that bring joy and pleasure, it is possible to continue consuming animals while ensuring that they enjoy good living conditions before being murdered.
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The link between a level of complexity of a living being and ethical considerations of consumption causes the matter of relativism in the animal ethics. Apart from that, relativism of animal ethics resonates with situational choices. For instance, in the case of starvation, everyone would consider eating an animal without ethical considerations. Nobody would let his/her own child die of starvation because of a vegetarian lifestyle. If it is acceptable in an extreme situation, the ethical question is where there is a border between justified and unjustified eating of an animal. Consequently, killing an animal to sustain a person’s life or lives of significant others may be ethical.
A culture of every particular community sets the ethical standards that affect relativism in the animal ethics. For instance, in some cultures, it is forbidden to eat pork, in others, it is acceptable to eat dogs, and in some less-developed tribes, even cannibalism is considered to be normal. This vast range of what is acceptable to eat depending on a geographical location implies that there are no universal animal ethics. Therefore, every person should be guided by his/her own moral compass that is instilled by his/her community. In these terms, causing unnecessary sufferings is unethical, but sustaining the life, lives of significant others, receiving pleasure and joy from consuming animal food, and ensuring well-balanced healthy dietary habits is crucial for survival, strong health, and well-being.
In conclusion, video Meet your Meat by PETA aims to protect the rights of animals for life and well-being by making a pathos appeal that consuming animals cause them much suffering. This rhetoric is strong, and it is obvious that animals should be granted better living conditions that would make using them as food more ethical. As moral agents, people should care about their attitude towards animals. Taking into account a great cultural relativism in the animal ethics as well as deeply imprinted in human’s senses love and urge for animal food, it is possible to conclude that eating animals cannot be considered clearly unethical. This conclusion is supported by crafted by nature food chain structure. Therefore, the reviewed video that consists of the two main premises: eating animals causes them harm and, thus, they should not be eaten, is more convincing in the first part of claim, that is people should not cause suffering to animals.