Are meat-eating people bad? Furthermore, are those who abstain from the flesh of an animal good? Well, let’s look at this logically.
If we consider animal oppression–that is, the needless exercise of authority–as something intrinsically bad, then we have something that looks a bit like a premise to the argument.
The Beginning of Oppression
Consider equating the value of work over the value of life. A person works and earns more than the value of their life, or rather, they create less than they are paid accordingly for. Bankers and Executives come to mind with this idea. Opposite are those who produce more than the value of their lives: like migrant workers and slave labourers. They produce more than they receive for an income or their life-value is significantly less than their work-value.
“The day when the labourer may till the ground without paying away half of what he produces…–that day will see the workers clothed and fed, and there will be no more Rothschilds or other exploiters.” writes Kropotkin, author of The Conquest for Bread “No one will then have to sell his [sic] working power for a wage that only represents a fraction of what he produces.”
Oppression is a normalcy in today’s capitalist society. We work our 40 hours per week and are paid for a fraction of the amount that is usually paid to the executives of the company. This, is seemingly, a tolerable amount of oppression–the devil we know, so to speak.
However, intolerable amount of oppression exist. Slave-labour is not tolerated (here in Canada, at least), we have a minimum wage standard that protects against extreme oppression. Although, the oppression that is most tolerated and seemingly unregulated, is the oppression of our animals.
Animals are property. This is a designation that helps farmers and other manufacturers usurp any animal rights laws that may affect their bottom line. The interests of humans are considered (wrongly) to be above the interests of the animal. This is certainly true given the current state of factory farming.
If we were to consider animals as labourers–namely as workers who produce a product–than the oppression levels rise beyond any humanity has ever experienced. Animals work their entire, shortened lives with zero benefit. Even slaves get their own quarters.
So if we consider the life-value to work-value of animals, the latter is certainly larger than the former. If the former has any degree what-so-ever. Any other forms of humanistic oppression are quickly and resolutely, overshadowed by the oppression bestowed on animal labourers.
Does Eating Meat Make you a Bad Person?
Consider what the average person knows about the meat they eat. Today, more and more people are less ignorant about their meals (this may account for the rise of vegetarian and veganism), but still we see people eating the flesh of animals.
Ignorance becomes less of an excuse every day. Even still, animals are consumed at a planetary rate.
Aristotle said to be a virtuous person all you need to do is do virtuous things. The opposite is also true, to be a bad person, all you need to do are bad things. To vehemently say meat-eaters are bad people is too much of a stretch. However, to eat the flesh of animals is certainly not a mark in the good category.
The opposite is also true. Just because someone does not partake in animal flesh, does not absolve them of there trespasses either. The merits of not eating meat are only an ephemeral part of the complexity of human good-ness.
Still, it is hard to argue that eating meat is a “good” action, considering the willful negligence of oppression the consumer is willfully taking part in.
P1: Oppression is bad.
P2: Eating meat is allowing oppression to thrive.
P3: A good person would not willingly allow oppression.
Therefore: Eating meat is not what a good person does.
In summation, eating meat does not make you a bad person. Being a bad person makes you a bad person. It is possible that a meat-eater’s other efforts against evil might outweigh their evil diets, and vice versa.
The statement still stands: Eating meat doesn’t make you a bad person, however eating meat is not what a good person does.