Home > Uncategorized > Responsible discussions involve the hard ones

Responsible discussions involve the hard ones

Everyone is all atwitter (pardon the pun) about the New York Times “Why is it ethical to eat meat” contest. Tell them, a group of animal rights and non-supporters, why eating meat is ethical. Not the credence attributes of the production system or why you love meat. No. They challenge you to use 600 words to communicate the logic behind why you choose to consume meat.

I’ve been debating participating due to trying to figure out how this may effect my current/future job, as the views expressed in any paper would be my own and not my employers or any association that I am affiliated with. I’m a tough debater for both sides in my internal debate, let me tell you!

But today I read something that so enraged me, and so educated me, as to why it’s important to me to share my ethics. A young producer from the US that I follow wrote a posting about the story. Amid other questions she poses the question of why should meat eaters have to explain our position and why is it ethical to question another person’s ethics, rather than celebrate our diversity?

Humans fight wars over ethics every day. Policies are made over ethical decisions. Engaging in the conversation (and wow is this one intimately personal) not only helps us to understand ourselves, but helps to further society as a whole. Bringing the ethics of meat consumption to the table may not get the “ultimate answer”, but it will definitely move the conversation forward and have ripple effects.

To not be there based on offence of being asked to engage worries me as to where the discussion will go without representation of the major ethics, inclusive of both anti and supporters of meat consumption (heard of meatless mondays or pink slime?). Social norms are established through ethical debate, as are policies and laws. Our own ethics ebb and flow with the tides of time, and ethical debates are one of the many influential factors, whether the debates are something we are engaged in or something we read in a newspaper.

Nietzsche’s words may be better applied to our respect for their selection committee. These people represent “thought leaders” within the anti/reduced meat consumption perspective. The judges are fair for their cause and representatives of their opinions.

Engaging in the difficult conversations is something that I have heard time and time again in learning about “agvocacy”. I am extremely interested in the submissions to this contest and the outcome. I feel like it will be an indication if agvocacy really has the guts to engage in more than just the easy stuff of how great the good is and really delve into the difficult conversations.

Categories: Uncategorized
  1. pearlsnapsponderings
    April 1, 2012 at 4:21 pm

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts and concerns with my choice to not participate in this contest and my post related to the matter. I wholeheartedly agree that it is important to be an active participant in discussion of policies and important issues that concern ethics. However, where I have to respectfully disagree is on the importance of this ‘contest’, as that’s just what it is and nothing more. I would instead question more the ethics of the NYT and their choice to select a panel of judges that provides a biased view of meat eating to begin with. If this panel was to truly decide what constitutes the ethics of eating meat I feel that more balance is needed. If presented with the challenge to explain my ethics for eating meat I will happily do so. Personally though, I feel that it is not the NYT or anyone else for that matter to question an individual’s food ethics. The diversity in diet choices is what makes agriculture the multi-faceted and unique community that it is. I for one am thankful for this and in the end, I think our food choices should not be something up for ethical debate. I am sorry that my post has enraged you, but hopefully from this disagreement of opinion we can both learn and grow from this experience.

    • April 8, 2012 at 1:28 pm

      Heya, thanks for your reply. I’ve been meaning to respond for a while, but kept thinking that I already did and getting lost in spring work got distracted me. My apologies. And I most definitely appreciate the enraging! Sometimes it is nice to have a spark lit up that reminds us of our opinions on issues.

      I also realized that I may have had a different approach to “their contest”. The words and presentation may allude to it being an open discourse relevant to all ethical views, especially through using a popular medium such as the NYT. But it is just not so. I see is as similar to the “pink slime” discourse, in a very round about way. The people behind the contest are controlling the language, and thus making it seem relevant to all views, while the validity of the ethical positions are being held to the standard of only those that support no-meat or low-meat diets for the entire population. I guess I was looking at it from what it really is, an invite to “their” table, rather than true open discourse on the matter (and I totally agree with you that the latter is how the conversation should be held).

      I totally respect your view about judging other people’s ethics. I realized that at the core of my concern is that I was a vegetarian for 9 years and it was largely through engaging in ethical debate that I discovered much of my personal ethics were based on fallacies about animal production systems, often those propagated by no-meat or low-meat diet extremists. After making those realizations about the realities of food animals, and the emotions attached to being so wrongfully misled (and the many things associated with that), I can’t help but see value in ethical discourse, which often involves judgement from other people, although not always necessary.

      And I definitely appreciate how much I am learning about through my discourse with you! Thanks for your reply and original post! 🙂

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