I frequently don’t make the ethical choices that I feel I ought to make. This would be less of an issue for me except that I have a friend who consistently makes better choices; and, although, she never makes an issue of my failings, the discrepancy troubles me.
The easiest thing to fix is probably to stop choosing to eat other sentient beings. I’ve gone entire weeks eating nothing but peanut butter and Nutella, but every so often I want more.
I rationalize eating fish and fowl pretty easily because I don’t feel them. Even where I had frequent contact with them, I felt like they were just hanging around me because I fed them. If I wasn’t carrying the feed bucket or didn’t set about feeding them pretty quickly, they’d go on about their business. That’s not a death-penalty offense, but it seems to make them more okay for me to eat.
Eating other mammals is more of a problem for me. I’ve tried to rationalize it, but I can’t make it right. If I accept that all of humankind are one and any apparent distinctions no more significant than different categories of canines, then how do I make ethical distinctions between species? How is that different from racism among humans?
Homo sapiens isn’t the only species of mammal that has intelligence, that shows emotion, that shows thoughtfulness. I think it is only our hubris that allows some of us to declare that only humans have souls – however we define that. How can I ethically choose to eat them not from need but in preference to more humane food sources?
It’s not enough to say that I seriously love me some bacon. It’s not enough to say that I only “have to” have a big ol’ bacon cheeseburger maybe once every month or two. It doesn’t even work for me that many breeds of prey animals only exist because we have bred them for consumption. I really feel like I’m just rationalizing unethical inhumane behavior, and it says something about me that I don’t just stop it.
As I said, I’m less troubled eating fish and fowl, although I’d have difficulty defending making that distinction. There’s also the thing with eggs and dairy to deal with.
Really, I virtually never think about food unless I’m hungry, and sorting this out is just daunting enough that I’m probably just going to keep kicking the can down the road for awhile anyway.
“Heaven and hell suppose two distinct species of men, the good and the bad. But the greatest part of mankind float betwixt vice and virtue.” – David Hume