As a vegetarian I often hear that eating meat is natural. After all, humans have eaten meat since forever. We are supposed to be at the top of the food chain. Did I know that domestic cats kill millions of birds every year? Do I realize that our bodies are adapted to an omnivore diet? That every single day, animals in the wild suffer far more painful deaths than they would in most slaughterhouses?
My comeback is this: Would you let your child die from malaria when you could give her medication? It’s perfectly natural you know, lot’s of people have died from malaria. No? Why not? Ooooh, I see, because you can prevent it. Unlike chicken factories, which are just part of the system. Tiny cages, preventative antibiotics (on a side note, many bacteria are growing resistant to antibiotics because of its overuse), crazy breeding schemes, lights on all day long… Just as in nature.
Yes, killing other animals and eating them is natural to many species. Why? Because the amount of plants are limited by:
a) how much nutrition there is in the soil,
b) how much space there are for them to grow, and
c) how many of them are eaten by animals.
The same can be applied for most living beings – the amount of food and the amount of predators are limits. Those predators are animals which have adapted to eating other animals. Their digestive are designed to extract the necessary nutrients from meat – basic biology. Does that mean it’s impossible to get same nutrients from other sources? No. Practically everything we need to function can be found in plants, and for the few nutrients that can’t there are supplements.
Leading back to my main argument: we don’t have to eat meat. The only reason people (at least everyone I know) eat meat today is that they want to, because it’s convenient and tasty. Which is pretty sad, especially since we do so many things that aren’t convenient because our moral sense tells us it’s the right thing to do.
It’s argued where this sense of moral comes from. Some people say religion, which evidently isn’t true. Altruism, unlike religion, has been observed in many species. Also, religion has made people do innumerable mean things, so assuming that faith is necessary in order to understand ethics is just simply stupid.
According to Richard Dawkins, a sense of ethics probably emerged because it was useful to our ancestors to cooperate. Lot’s if things are far easier when done together, so it’s beneficial to both parts. As for kindness, people around you are likely to share your genetics, so helping them (even when it’s of no use to you personally) would make them (the genetics, that is) more prone to surviving.
In my opinion, basic morality (don’t kill, don’t harm, don’t suppress) would not be any less true even if they were unnatural. The suffering of the prey animal would be the same wether or not the predator felt bad for killing. However, if the predator – in this case humans – did feel bad about killing their prey, they would not do it if they had any other option. We do.