[National Review Online Blogs]

If God didn't want us to eat cows, he wouldn't have made them out of steak


PETA -- People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals -- is at it again.

When actress Jessica Simpson recently wore a T-shirt bearing the words "Real Girls Eat Meat," the animal-rights zealots pounced. "Jessica Simpson might have a right to wear what she wants," a PETA spokesperson said, "but she doesn't have a right to eat what she wants -- eating meat is about suffering and death."

Listening to animal-rights activists bray on about the wrongness of slaughtering animals for food -- summarized in their advocacy phrase "meat is murder" -- one would think that the choice we have is between a diet in which animals are killed and a strictly vegan diet involving no animal deaths.


I asked an animal-rights leader, Rutgers law professor Gary Francione, what he thought about this. He claimed that the key issue is intent:


Francione also claimed that omnivores occasion a far greater animal-death toll than vegans: "It takes 3 acres to feed an omnivore for a year; 20 vegans can be fed from that same space. Therefore, to the extent that there is harm caused to sentient beings by the production of plants, that harm is only multiplied by the omnivore."

But neither "intent" (as Francione defines it) nor utilitarian comparison of the carnage is the real issue. The argument made by animal-rights activists is that meat is murder, while veganism is supposedly cruelty-free.


... But I think Davis's somewhat tongue-in-cheek study made an important point: Contending that meat eating is somehow murder while veganism is morally pristine because it doesn't result in intentional animal deaths is factually false and self-delusional. No matter your diet, animals surely died that you might live.

-- Award-winning author Wesley J. Smith is a senior fellow at the Discovery Institute and a special consultant to the Center for Bioethics and Culture. His next book will be about the animal-rights movement.


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