Moral obligation to eating animals


#1

It is no big secret that the vast majority of the cows, chickens, and pigs that are raised to be killed and eaten, are done so in a very abusive way. They are abused, treated like objects, and made to live horrible lives of suffering before being killed. The big companies don’t care about how they are treating God’s creatures… they just care about their profit.

IF we have the money and the access to buy organic or “humanely raised” beef, pork, and chicken, do we have any sort of moral obligation to try to do so?


#2

That’s a really big if, considering how pricey the more humanely raised food can be, but I would suggest a qualified yes. Qualified because some of the “humanely” raised just isn’t necessarily so.

For instance, cage-free hens for eggs sounds good, but not if they are so crowded into buildings they are very stressed. Free-range often means just a small door where the chickens can go outside if they want, but believe me, the owners are praying they won’t!

A vegetarian diet for chickens is pretty silly - they, like humans - are omnivores. One reason I have chickens is because they eat bugs. And while my chickens are often allowed the freedom of the yard, they are kept most of the time in a fenced area for their own safety.

If you live where you can go to the farmer and see how the animals are raised, that can be very helpful. Then if you decide to buy directly from the farmer you will be helping him/her as well as yourself.

I’ve bought both pork and beef from neighbors, and I raise rabbits and have my own chickens for eggs (when they decide to lay them). Properly raised meat tastes superior to “factory” meat and doesn’t have the additives that are put in most cuts to keep them fresh.


#3

Hehe, I chuckled at the “treated like objects” part. You do realize that animals ARE objects to us? As humans, we are on a higher order than them. We’re not supposed to treat them with the respect and dignity due to a human.

Aside from that, though, you do have an interesting point. I would like to ask you, though, what you mean by “done so in a very abusive way.” Do you mean animals that are tortured to death? Or, perhaps, not killed in a reasonably humane way? I would agree that it may be preferable to avoid buying from vendors who mutilate, torture, or otherwise abuse their animals, but I am unaware of any great number of cattle sellers who do so. It seems impractical, and the only thing I can see them gaining from it is a satisfaction of their sadism, which I find to be an unlikely scenario.

So what exactly do you mean by “abuse”?


#4

You are stating opinions as if they are facts. The “vast majority”? “horrible lives of suffering”, “abused”. There are certainly cases of this because people are sinners and therefore do bad things. But “vast majority” and “horrible lives of suffering” is a huge overstatement unsupported by facts.

No, you are not obligated to do so. You may feel **called **to do so. You may feel called to support local, community agriculture and the local farmers who benefit from direct to consumer sales. But, you aren’t obligated to do so.

If you want humanely raised, pastured beef fed on non-GMO crops without the use of rBGH treatments fine. That’s what we do. We have a beef farm, converted from dairy a couple of years ago.

But, those who are raising conventional animals for beef, dairy, and pigs are our neighbors, friends, and fellow parishioners, and they are not **abusing **their animals by raising them conventionally.


#5

For myself, I would consider crowded, unsanitary pens and housing to be abuse. If you can’t go into a barn without a gas mask, something is terribly wrong. CAFOs are not only both crowded and unsanitary, the cows are fed food they cannot properly digest (corn & other grains) in order to make the meat more tender.


#6

I’m sorry sir but this is both very disturbing and makes me very sad. :frowning:
Of course they are not in the same level as humans. I never said they were! But to say they are objects and should thus be treated as such is just horrible. They are not objects. They are living creatures of God, and deserve more respect than a pile of books, or rocks on the side of the road. :frowning:

Aside from that, though, you do have an interesting point. I would like to ask you, though, what you mean by “done so in a very abusive way.” Do you mean animals that are tortured to death? Or, perhaps, not killed in a reasonably humane way? I would agree that it may be preferable to avoid buying from vendors who mutilate, torture, or otherwise abuse their animals, but I am unaware of any great number of cattle sellers who do so. It seems impractical, and the only thing I can see them gaining from it is a satisfaction of their sadism, which I find to be an unlikely scenario.

So what exactly do you mean by “abuse”?

I don’t have the heart to sit here and list all the horrible things that are done to these animals. It breaks my heart to even think about it. But I encourage you to inform yourself and do some google searches. You will know what I mean. :frowning:


#7

You are disturbed? You seem to think that I am saying it is either one extreme or the other: either they receive complete human dignity, or they have no more dignity than a rock.

Rather, it is a middle ground. Animals are owed the dignity due to their nature: as creatures of God, they are certainly to be valued.

However, you seem to be mis-defining what is meant by saying “treating him/her/it like an object”. This is usually used in reference to the sexual “objectification” that is so common in this culture, and it basically means that a person is looked upon in a manner which is below his/her dignity, or used in a way contrary to his/her nature.

Since you stretched the term and used it to reference animals, I simply used this same definition for animals. And, since animals do not have the dignity or rights of a human, breeding, fattening, and killing an animal is NOT “objectifying” them. That’s why they were created. If you use the “objectification” sense for humans on animals, animals ARE objects, because you can use them in a way you can’t use humans.

Therefore, your rather… righteous indignation about the “mistreatment” of animals is misplaced. They are not owed the dignity which is owed to humans, and thus far, you have provided ZERO evidence of major livestock providers mistreating their animals.

I say to this next quote:

Since you will not provide evidence, you have no case. In other words, you have no argument. If you want to continue this discussion and reach a point of agreement, you will need to provide evidence that major livestock and food providers are commonly and constantly using animals in a way which is contrary to nature and God’s law.


#8

I think we should try to move toward more organically raised foods and meat for the reasons you suggest, but financially it is almost impossible. And as others suggest you might be surprised how “inhumanely” some of the “organically raised” animals are treated.

All that said here is what my sister and I do toward minimizing our consumption of meat raised in the standard way: 1. Try two or three days with no meat at all. It helps decrease the amount of steroids and antibiotics we are exposed too and with weight loss. 2. We do buy organic chicken when possible, as it is the cheapest meat to buy that is organic. So folks could pick one meat they spend the extra on…or alternate meats like pork vs chicken.
3. We buy wild caught fish only. The farm raised has the same issues as beef, pork and chicken. And if you are worried about mercury content the farm raised is much worse for that than wild caught.

If everyone did cut back on consumption of the “non-organic” meats it might be enough to impact the industry to make changes. Maybe we don’t have to go “full-bore” at it, but can “chip the armor” a bit at a time.


#9

Originally Posted by dshix View Post
“Hehe, I chuckled at the “treated like objects” part. You do realize that animals ARE objects to us? As humans, we are on a higher order than them. We’re not supposed to treat them with the respect and dignity due to a human.”

Did you know Pope Benedict XVI had spoken movingly about the exploitation of all beings, particularly of farmed animals. When asked about the rights of animals in a 2002 interview, he said, “That is a very serious question. At any rate, we can see that they are given into our care, that we cannot just do whatever we want with them. Animals, too, are God’s creatures…. Certainly, a sort of industrial use of creatures, so that geese are fed in such a way as to produce as large a liver as possible, or hens live so packed together that they become just caricatures of birds, this degrading of living creatures to a commodity seems to me in fact to contradict the relationship of mutuality that comes across in the Bible.”

That being noted, there are quite a few Saints who have had interaction with animals and treated them with much respect, as St. Francis of Assisi and St. Anthony of Padua, to name but two.


#10

There are many Saints who loved animals. I think the key word here is ‘love’. If we need to kill an animal for food we do it quickly. If we buy meat we should make sure that it is likely the food comes from a company who does not keep animals in tiny cages in bad conditions. Buying free-range eggs is an example. If we love God then we love His creation and animals are His creation so we need to treat them with love also. However, we don’t put them on the same level as humans, but I don’t think that is what you were suggesting in this thread. I think if you have a conscience about it, serve it, but all things in their right order - I personally don’t agree with Vegans, for example, because I think if the Lord ate fish then it is good enough for us. And fish aren’t treated badly (I think?). However, even if holy people ate animal meat, I would assume that they had raised the meat they were eating in loving conditions (the exception being in the wild but then one can still kill quickly).


#11

The quotes which you brought up are clearly correct, and bring up real concerns. That doesn’t, however, mitigate anything I have said, nor have you made an argument against the fact that animals are here for US. The purpose for their existence on earth is for out benefit, and since food is to our benefit, it is our right to take advantage of animals for our needs.


#12

This was rude. :frowning:


#13

Thank you for the suggestions. Ive actually been cutting back a lot on my meats because I only want to do organic now, but they are pricey. Tofu on the other hand, is SUPER cheap.


#14

Thank you for the suggestions. Ive actually been cutting back a lot on my meats because I only want to do organic now, but they are pricey. Ive also been eating more seafood than land animals… fish dont suffer in the same way as pigs do. I feel the most sorry for pigs because they are as sensitive and intelligent as dogs. Tofu on the other hand, is SUPER cheap.


#15

The post is a considerate one and I think the fact that you care about living creatures is a sign of love, for God’s wonderful creation. Thank you for reminding us of the importance of living with care in our hearts. :slight_smile:


#16

Thank you so much for this awesome post and beautiful quote. I am in love with that quote now. Will post it to my facebook profile.


#17

Thank you for the kind post. This is a very sensitive topic for me.

And yes, of course I don’t put animals in the same level as humans. But I still do think, as you said, that they deserve a certain level of respect and kindness. They are God’s creatures and He loves them.


#18

No one here is saying we can’t eat animals. Just that we have a duty not to treat them poorly… not to treat them as objects. They have life, and life is sacred.


#19

I think going Vegetarian is a great idea and more people should try it. Right now my friends and I have meatless Mondays and fish Fridays and it seems to be working well.


#20

After reading, I have to wonder, what is the point of discussion?

I believe all can agree, animal abuse is wrong, it is illegal in the US after all. Small farms and large are governed by the same law for animal treatment. The percetage of farmers large or small and local are the same. The bad guys dont all gravitate towards big operations.

The topic is “the moral obigation of eating meat.” which becomes a personal choice. No matter how much you do to reduce your impact on the animal kingdom, you can still do so much more…

Now the question seems to be why aren’t you(all of us) doing more?


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