This post is part of an ongoing series called Most Common Justifications for Eating Animals where we seek to provide answers and resources to better address these justifications.
Many people insist that eating animals is “natural” — and therefore morally neutral — because other animals eat animals. But it’s important to realize that, with a few exceptions, when humans kill other animals for food, we’re not doing what animals do in nature. Humans have no biological need to consume meat or any animal products. When animals kill other animals for food, they do as they must, in order to survive; they have no choice in the matter. Many humans, on the other hand, do have a choice, and when people with access to plant-based foods choose to continue eating animals anyway — simply because they like the taste — they are harming animals not from necessity, but for pleasure. Yet harming animals for pleasure goes against core values we hold in common — which is why, for example, we oppose practices like dog fighting on principle. It can’t be wrong to harm animals for pleasure in one instance, but not the other.
Furthermore, it makes no sense to selectively model our behavior around other animals. Do we fornicate or copulate in public like other animals do? No. Do we kill our newborn children based on the fact that certain animals have done so under certain circumstances? Of course not. Yet when it is convenient for our argument, we claim that eating animals is normal and natural because a very small percentage of animals do so. Regardless of what other animals do, if you are not vegan, you are paying someone to needlessly harm animals in a way that would traumatize you to even witness. Explore the subject further here. See also author Sherry Colb’s article on deconstructing the natural argument. And learn more about vegan nutrition here.
See more common justifications for eating animals.