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Eating ethics

Yesterday, Venkat and Ranjini, my colleagues at work (who also happened to be married to each other, a fact that I learnt pretty recently even though I knew them individually for quite sometime) invited me and two other friends Nithya and Bharath over to their place for lunch.  Needless to say I accepted the invitation and was hanging around their community since 9.30 in the morning (No!). They were wonderful hosts. They fed us, showed us a movie, took us to Charlotte in their car, fed us Chaat, took us back to their home, again fed us, and finally dropped us back in our homes. I had a lot of  fun and reached home only past midnight. While with them, the topic of vegetarianism came up. Though there was no serious debate, there were very brief discussions on whether one eats eggs or not, whether eggs are considered vegetarian, why some people consider fish to be vegetarian etc. Moreover, since coming to the US, I have frequently been in places where the only options before me are either beef or bacon. All this reminded me of how my ideas on these questions evolved.

Some questions

It is my impression that many people who are vegetarians, have not really thought out the reasons for their vegetarianism clearly. Many are vegetarians simple because they have been brought up that way, as was the case with me for a very long time. I remember once trying to argue with a friend, Deepak, on why one should not eat animals. My primary argument against eating meat was that killing animals hurts them and so should not be done. Since plants did not experience pain, it was ok to slice, boil or fry them. My reasoning was so primitive (let me add that I had just finished school then), that I had not anticipated the obvious question that follows, which my friend promptly put to me. Is it ok to eat animals that were killed after being given an anaesthesia? I did not have an answer to that, but deep inside I still felt strongly that eating animals was inexcusably wrong . I still remember feeling supremely disappointed when I learnt that my elder brother eats chicken, looking back at which I can only wonder how stupid and naive I was (I was in my teens, then).

There is also another fundamental problem. Considering that every living thing on earth is a relative of every other living thing, is it really posssibly to draw a firm line between plants and animals? Of course we do not wonder what categories brinjals and cows belong to a they are very clear examples, but there surely are grey areas .The question of eggs adds to the confusion. Let me add here that I started eating eggs recently (primarily as omelettes). Is eating eggs moral? Many argue that eating eggs is ok because chickens do not come out of them anyway as they are unfertilised (There are no roosters around in farms). Then, there are also those who argue that even consuming milk is ethically wrong because they come from animals.

The way out

With all these questions, the situation seems to be pretty messy. But all this can be cleared up, by focusing on the right things. Let me start with what I think is the crux of the whole issue. Starting from that point we can zoom out to try to answer all the questions that came up till now. The basis on which our eating decisions should rest, should be that no living organism capable of feeling suffering, should be hurt for our own pleasure or for our nutrition. I get much of what follows from Peter Singer’s ideas which I heard in some of his interviews and lectures*. I have not read his famous book Animal Liberation, I must pick it up the next time from the library. Here is one of his videos.

Let us begin with eggs. Can eggs feel pain? They clearly cannot. But that alone does not make it ethical to eat eggs. It is a common scene to see a man on his cycle carrying 5-6 chickens tied to each side of his handlebar all hanging upside down by their legs. Try imagining what would happen if you were hung that way. Also common are the rows and columns of metal cages in which chickens are packed extremely close to each other. If an egg comes from a place that treats the chickens so badly, we definitely are not doing the right thing by eating those.** That much, I assume, you will agree. Then again, eating eggs from chickens that laid those eggs happily on their own does seem to be ok. But only if we are sure that the chicken is not emotionally attached to its eggs. I know the last sentence might have sounded too silly, but my point is that, the question of eating eggs is not answered by discussing whether those eggs would have gone on to make chickens, but on how its mother was treated. Again, it is the pain and suffering caused to any animal because of our actions, that should form the basis of our decisions, and not some arbitrary idea of what is right and wrong. And that means we should also count in the possibility of the chickens’ emotional pain of seeing one of its eggs missing. But the eggs that we usually buy from supermarkets are usually from theses factory farms, and should definitely be avoided (Yes, I am morally wrong in eating eggs).

What about milk and honey? As far as milk is concerned, it is the welfare of the cows that is primary. If the cows are treated well, drinking milk that is anyway far too much for the calves, is not ethically wrong. But for most of the milk we buy, I doubt if the cows are treated well and so there is a point in what vegans say. We are indeed doing the wrong thing by consuming milk. When it comes to honey, I think it is ok. I understand that the bees lose their honey and their lives too, but I doubt if they are conscious of themselves and are capable of pain, and so I think it is ok. But, On the point of honey, I am not entirely sure if bees are incapable of pain, and so I could be wrong in saying consuming honey is ok.

Now let us come to eating animals. Since animals are obviously capable of experiencing pain (if you are not sure, try biting a dog), killing them to eat is definitely not right. What about animals that were initially made unconscious and then put to death? Again we need to see who will suffer because of our actions. In case of animals that are painlessly put to death, there are two quetsions to be considerd: One is how they were treated when alive? This is the same as the question of how the chickens which lay the eggs were treated. The second one is to consider whether it has relatives and friends that would miss losing a good friend or father or son or daughter or mother or cousin. I realise this sounds like a heavy dose of sentimentality, but that is how we really should evaluate. After all, the goal of ethics should be to ensure that we reduce the amount of suffering to all beings capable of suffering. If those animals are not that self conscious to realise the death of its relatives then it is ok, but if they can experience the emotional pain of losing a loved one, we are wrong in farming those animals for our own food. It is this argument that makes it ok to eat plants, since we think they are not self conscious, that they cannot feel pain and they cant grieve the death of a close friend who was just cut down unthinkingly.

Roadkills? Is it ok to eat an animal found naturally dead in a forest? In this case, a different question should come into play. Since we did not kill the animal, we cannot be held respondible for its relatives’ grief. But the question now is, whether those friends would have some emotional connect with the body of the dead animal. I remember reading in Jane Goodall‘s book, In the shadow of man, about a mother chimpanzee, which carries around its dead child for more than a day, even after knowing it was dead. A very touching incident, but it means that the dead animal too meant something to its parent. In such a case, for the sake of the parent we should not eat the child. Of course, very rarely do humans eat chimpanzees, but I am only trying to illustrate the point that the emotional states of friends and relatives should also be taken into account.

The last three paragraphs flow from the idea that it is the physical and emotional suffering that animals are capable of, that should guide us on what to eat and what not to. I hope I have been cogent enough for that. But let us take this argument to the next level.

Can we eat humans?

Please don’t close this window yet. I am aware that it is disgusting to think of eating other humans, but let us take our principle of minimal suffering to its logical conclusion. Can we eat humans? We cannot kill humans to eat because it causes them pain. We cannot eat naturally dead humans, as there will be relatives and friends who would undergo emotional pain because of that. But imagine a scenario, where a complete loner (let us say nobody in this world knows him) just died naturally in a forest that you were trekking. You know that nobody in the world is even aware of his existence. My point is that there is nothing ethically wrong in eating that person.

Some of these ideas (as mentioned before they are not mine), can sound a bit too superficial. I remember talking to my younger brother, Pratap, about this when he for somehow could not see how we can justify eating eggs (he said something like, what about the chicken’s right to have eggs). Of course, there are lots of arguments that have not been covered here. There is also the often made point that it is environmentally wasteful trying to get nutrition from animals, as they are one step above plants in the food chain.

I have talked about eating chimpanzees and humans. But that does not mean I do that (just in case you were wondering). I am only trying to lay out the steps to evaluate the consequences of your actions. If you find the idea of eating even eggs repulsive, then you are not bound to do that (I find the idea of eating garlic repulsive). But the point is that one should not argue whether one is an animal or a plant, to decide whether it is moral to eat it or not. Such distinctions are rather useless. Rather, one should try to find out the effects of one’s actions on the overall wellbeing of living organisms. And that is the way to eat. To live.

—————————————————

* This is not the first time, I am influenced by Peter Singer’s ideas.

**As I completed this post, my elder brother told me that there are eggs sold in the United States, on which it is explicitly stated that those eggs were not from chickens held in cages. They are more expensive, than the usual ones.

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  1. Pratap
    August 15, 2012 at 22:04

    I think it is difficult to draw a line between eating plants and animals with the limited knowledge we have to differentiate between both of them. A day will surely come when, I feel, biologists will have an answer to this problem (am just assuming that there is surely some kind of difference between plants and animals. I might be wrong in assuming so).

    • August 18, 2012 at 21:04

      Why do you assume that there is surely some kind of difference between plants and animals. As I have said in one of my earlier posts, the difference is the same as the difference between young and old people. Sure the extreme cases are easier to distinguish, but what about the border line cases. Similar to young and old, plants and animals are convenient words. But just because we have different words for them does not mean there is some binary difference between the two. This is not a problem that biologists are yet to solve, since this is not a biological problem at all. It is just a question of how we use words. The point is if it turns out that what we define as plants today, do really have consciousness (I think that is unlikely) and can feel pain, then we should not be eating plants either. Similarly, if there are animals that are not really self conscious and are not really capable of feeling pain (this I think is possible), we wont be wrong in eating them. It is finding out which organisms can feel pain and which cannot, which ones are conscious and which ones are not, that is actually a problem for biologists. And I am hoping that will be solved in future.

  2. April 4, 2013 at 08:20

    I cannot quote anything/ anyone but this is my OWN understanding of Veg / Non-veg:
    The whole thing is not about the pain / morality. It’s about the source of energy.

    I. Veg:
    a. That stores energy directly from five primary sources of energy using 5 natural sources light, heat, air, water and soil. Plant does; neither animals nor eggs nor fish.
    b. That which is still has traces of life though not alive. Seeds has life in it even though they are not alive i.e. it’s not dead yet. Plants, vegs, and leaves have live cells.
    c. Only upon cooking, the cells die. The chloroplast cells in plant continuously get energy from light and oxygen and stores it.
    II. Non-Veg
    a. Acquire energy from secondary source or third source i.e. plants (secondary source) / animals (third source)
    b. The Animal is killed before it is cooked/ except egg where it has life until it is cooked. The cells die because there is no chloroplast in animal cell.
    Veg is preferred because:
    • It is from primary source
    • Has life until cooked or eaten

    The whole thing about pain is not correct. Though the plants do not have nervous system to feel pain, it does have feeling- Refer work of JC Bose, Sir CV Raman.

    In my own way, the order of preference should be
    1. Plants- Fruits, Veg, Greens leaves (less than a day old), other plant parts, Flowers, Honey
    2. Cereals, Seeds, Pulses, nuts
    3. Dried plant origin foods
    4. Treated plant origin foods
    5. Herbivores
    6. Omnivores
    7. Carnivores

    • April 26, 2013 at 07:29

      Plants might be the first source of energy and animal might be secondary source of energy, but why do you think that should act as a guideline for us. Why is it important that veg food has life until eaten (I dont agree completely with that but let us assume you are right). Life itself is not clearly defined. Your criteria seem to be completely arbitrary. If tomorrow we find out that some conscious entity does indeed makes its own food directly from the sun (as a thought experiment assume we find out that dogs get their energy directly from the sun) would you then be ok with eating dogs?

      All this talk about primary source of energy might make economic sense, but from an ethical perspective it is not very useful. We should not be vegetarians because it makes economic or environmental sense, but because as a self proclaimed humane species we must ensure no being suffers because of us. And that should drive our decisions.

      • April 26, 2013 at 12:28

        In my response, I do not talk about ethics rather a preference just based on source of energy. Yes it is arbitrary because I cannot prove anything here scientifically but just a different way of viewing. I have also sequenced in which one can (just a recommendation) order their preference. I don’t say it is important to eat veg but rather it can have a higher preference since it has life in it. Of course you are right life is not defined.

        Even if we go by your view of ethics: I do not see a difference between killing animals or killing plants. Both are life. Just that plant don’t respond it does not mean that it is not suffering. Just that our human mind have not yet understood or discovered whether the plant suffers or not. It is our assumption that since they do not have a nervous system, they don’t feel the pain i.e pain = suffering.

        When we speak of ethics, many scholars consider Vedas as embodiment of ethics. Though I don’t have sufficient knowledge on Veda, but to my little knowledge, I have not read or heard anyone quoting that Non-Veg is un-ethical, rather they have said it can be avoided as better alternative is available. Not only Veda but any religion for that matter of fact does not prohibit eating non-veg but only suggest to avoid. Would be glad to learn and correct myself if the understanding is wrong.

      • April 26, 2013 at 16:51

        For your first para: If your sequence is arbitrary, then what prevents me from following the exact reverse sequence of what you suggested?

        2nd para: I am shocked when you say you dont see any difference between killing plants and killing animals. Will you also say next that killing virus and bacteria is also the same? The next time you go to a zoo (or if you own a pet, like a dog) can you seriously tell me that you would as easily kill a chimpanzee or a dog as you would cut down a plant? I am not just trying to appeal to your emotions. Pain is clearly a by-product of a brain and a nervous system (that is why you can be given a local anesthesia). So it makes sense to assume that plants dont feel pain. Of course, there is a theoretical possibility that it might be discovered tomorrow that plants have a different way of experiencing pain, but appears unlikely (should I also be concerned if tomorrow science might discover that my laptop can also feel pain?).

        As for vedas and religions, I have a very bad opinion (and rightly so) on religions being a good moral guide. I am not doing something just because some book says so. If I find a book that meat should not be eaten, will you be convinced? I need arguments and evidence, not the opinion of scholars and old books, to convince me.

      • April 27, 2013 at 21:48

        Apologies, the response is pretty long.

        Madhav :
        2nd para:
        For your first para: If your sequence is arbitrary, then what prevents me from following the exact reverse sequence of what you suggested?

        My sequence is not arbitrary. I have a reason for my sequencing which I have given in the first comment itself. Since you informed my criteria for reasoning is arbitrary, I did not want to argue on it as I am not backing up my criteria with any scientific papers / evidence.

        Madhav :
        2nd para: I am shocked when you say you dont see any difference between killing plants and killing animals.

        Madhav, we ( you, me, and collectively society as a whole) have been conditioned since childhood that killing animals is bad and and not so about killing plants; hence we are convinced so.

        If you were hypnotized to believe that killing plant is more bad than killing animals, I bet you would start eating non-veg. So its not about ethics. Its about mind condition. Ethics is different for different people.

        Try showing the same empathy that you have animals for plants as well. Then you will feel that killing both are equally bad. This is something about mind, so no argument no evidence can be shown until you experience by yourself.

        Just for a minute imagine that you are in a desert, and no plants. Also assume that you have a strong desire to live. There is only your pet animal that has been so dear to you for years. And that is the only thing that is near to you in the desert. You have now two options either kill the animal and feed yourself, or you can choose to starve and die. The assumption is you have strong desire to live. The desire supersedes the ethics and you would probably kill the animal to feed yourself. All these ethics are man made. we conveniently change them as we like depending upon circumstance.

        If your pet animal say dog, has gone crazy and has bitten your child and if it is endangering the life of your kid, I bet you will kill the dog to protect your kid. You won’t think of ethics there of not killing animal. Killing is killing whether it is for eating or for protecting. In the same lines killing a plant or killing an animal is same.

        However, having known that killing both is equally bad, I have personally chosen to continue to have plants originated food otherwise I cannot live. I was born into a family that eats vegetarian. I started questioning and trying to find an answer and I am convinced with my understanding however ridiculous my understanding may be and therefore I have continued to stay put as Vegetarian.

        Madhav :
        2nd para: Will you also say next that killing virus and bacteria is also the same

        We cultivate bacteria that are all good to us and kill that are bad to us.

        Madhav :

        As for vedas and religions, I have a very bad opinion (and rightly so) on religions being a good moral guide. I am not doing something just because some book says so. I need arguments and evidence, not the opinion of scholars and old books, to convince me.

        I am sorry, I couldn’t control myself on this point pls don’t take it personally– I have heard this kind of statements from many people. But, I don’t understand why people don’t say this to a doctor? Why we simply swallow the pills given by a doctor and don’t ask for any arguments and why don’t we expect doctors to prove their diagnosis and recommendation before we take the pills? Doctor is supposed to be scholar in the medical field. Even if we have doubt about a doctor’s diagnosis we go and consult another doctor and don’t wait for the doctor to come and convince us to take the pill. So, why does when it comes to Veda / religion, it is easy to say that ‘ I don’t follow a book / they are ridiculous’ but hard to follow it for a while in its TRUE sense and then to comment.

        I have to humbly say that my opinion on any old scripture is: Unless, I practice it I don’t qualify to either reject or comment. In modern terminology of martial arts it is called as “Shuhari” obey-digress-transcendent.

        Madhav :
        If I find a book that meat should not be eaten, will you be convinced?

        You don’t need to find a book for me. If I don’t have anything else to eat by any other means, and if I have crossed the threshold of starving, I would eat non-veg. Of course this would be true as long as my desire to live supersedes remaining things.

        For avoidance of confusion, here is my summary:

        1. Ethics are Man-made differs from person to person based on the convictions one has; and for same person, ethics differ base on circumstances..
        2. Life though undefined, life of plant / life of animal / bacteria / virus neither is greater than the other. Each life has equal opportunity and right to stay alive. however, for one to make a living, they got to kill the other- Hunger game!!
        3. My personal option is to choose vegetarian so long I wont die of starving

      • April 28, 2013 at 20:30

        Your first point in the summary is that ethics are human-made and differs from person to person. True. Terrorists think flying planes into buildings, bombing marathons, taking seige of the Taj hotel, assassinating political leaders are all ethical, but that does not make it right. Just because you or I think something is ethical, does not make it ethical. Are you going to say that the terrorists too are being ethical?

        You also say that if I am in a desert I will kill and eat an animal. Let me go one step further. If I am in a desert with another human and with no other animals in sight, I might even kill that person to eat him/her. I dont deny that. But that does not mean what I say in the post is wrong. When I start eating humans, I am clearly wrong. Just because I am doing it, does not mean my ethics have changed. I think eating eggs and drinking milk is wrong (not 100%, my opinion is bit more nuanced, but for now let us take that statement to be true). But I still eat eggs and drink milk. That does not mean my ethics have changed. That only means I am being unethical. I am being wrong. I am not being considerate towards other animals.

        In the same way, I feel I should not be earning money and living for my own family’s selfish needs. I feel I should contribute something to this society I am living in. But I am not doing it. Again, my ethics are not different or have not changed, it is just that I am being unethical (even as per my own standards). But my statement that ethically you must give something back to the society is something that I feel is right.

        As for your point that all life is same, here is a scenario I suggest you to think about. Someone puts a human, a chimpanzee, a plant and a bacterium in front of you, holds you at gun point and says, unless you kill one of them I am not letting you alive. What would you do?? Since you hold all life to be equally deserving of living, will you be ok with killing the Chimpanzee or a human? I would always choose to kill the bacterium. What would you choose?

        As for the third point about my listening to doctors. I get medicines from doctors, doctors get their prescriptions from their text books (say). How are the textbooks written? They are written based on research and evidence that medicines work. Say tomorrow your doctor prescribes you a medicine, and you are skeptical of it. You can look at the research literature, see the studies that have been done to study the efficacy of the drug, see the evidence and then decide whether the medicine works or not. But for religion/religious books no such foundation exists. It is just the result of someone’s armchair thinking (without any evidence). If I ask you how the Vedas are written, you will say some humans wrote it. How did those humans know that it is true? God supposedly told them. Am I to believe all that? The vedas seem to contain charms for ills like dysentry. So the next time I have dysentry am I supposed to use this charm rather than going to a doctor??

      • April 28, 2013 at 21:59

        Madhav :
        Are you going to say that the terrorists too are being ethical?

        Who is the terrorist you are saying? For Indians Subhash Chandra Bose was a Freedom fighter, for British, he is a terrorist. The meaning of Terrorist depends on which side of the table you are.

        Madhav :
        here is a scenario I suggest you to think about…….What would you choose?

        Now, I would add some flavour to the scenario that you have given:
        Lets say,
        -The human has raped 20 women and killed them after raping. If he is left free he is going to be either sentenced to death by a court or he is going to rape another woman and kill her.
        -The chimpanzee is the last surviving in the world
        -The plant is the newly found drug to Cancer, and if you destroy that the scientific world cannot identify which plant it is
        -The bacteria is one that has come from next planet an analysis of that could give a new insight that whether life can be found in other planet.

        Would you still go and kill the bacterium? Or that human?

        Choosing something to kill does not necessarily that which is small… it is again based on circumstances.

        I would leave the choice which one to your wisdom

        Madhav :
        It is just the result of someone’s armchair thinking (without any evidence). If I ask you how the Vedas are written, you will say some humans wrote it. How did those humans know that it is true? God supposedly told them. Am I to believe all that? The vedas seem to contain charms for ills like dysentry. So the next time I have dysentry am I supposed to use this charm rather than going to a doctor??

        Are you saying about this charm from adharvana veda based on your understanding from some-one’s translation? Was it written in English originally? What is the guarantee that the translation is correct?

        Dear Madhav, Vedas are written so many millenniums ago. The language and texts are written in many different context and has many hidden meaning. Just for your understanding- check this out (Katapayadi System). A simple hymn but it contains formula for deriving the value of pi.

        Let me ask you some simple questions:

        How did someone sitting in Arm chair

        found that a solar year has 365.2421904 days in surya sidantha which was found by the modern science just within last few centuries? Please note the decimals.

        found those 7 planets when the modern science with all the gadgets found it just few centuries?

        How did Valmiki in his Ramayana narrated about missile to missile to attack- or missiles that find the other missile and destroys? recollect Ramayana in doordarshan where an arrow points is targed on an incoming arrow? Now they are calling it as missile and they called it something that was translated by some one as ‘arrow’!

        How did Valmiki while narrating about sita’s kidnap explains about the impression in the sand that depicts a aircraft landing and take off? When the flight itself was discovered only few years back?

        How come our almanacs are still very accurate on the eclipses when we still use some super computers or advanced programs to compute them?

        How did planetary revolution periods were calculated arbitrarily and surprisingly found correct with modern science?

        Even if one can argue that 7 planets are visible to naked eyes, How did they found that Mars is red in colour “Sevvai”?

        My humble request Please, don’t be carried away by some translations. If you want to really see, learn the language, identify the dual meaning. They are coded language. The apparent meaning would be different from the real meaning. Unless we know the real meaning it would only be a crap. Don’t be carried away by some non-sensical religious practices. Veda is not religious practice it’s scientific except that we don’t understand them as over a period of time the language is lost.

      • April 29, 2013 at 08:02

        Though I would like to reply to all your points, I dont think we will make any progress that way. So let me look at the point which is most related to the post. I was arguing that it was unethical to kill animals to eat since they feel pain. You came back saying all life is equal.

        So my question was whether you would be ok with killing a human or a chimpanzee when pitted against a plant and a bacterium.

        As per your earlier statement, to you, it should not make any difference whether we kill a human or a bacterium. So I gave you that situation to confirm if that is what you really think. But you did not answer that and have now modified my scenario. Even in the modified scenario I would kill the bacterium. I am not as worried about scientific knowledge that can be gleaned from this bacterium from a different planet, as I am about the human or the chimpanzee or the cancer patients who might survive because of the plant (note here that the plant itself is not important to me, but only that it could have impact on human beings’ lives). So there you got my answer.

          Can you at least now give a direct answer to my earlier question?

        To be clear I specify that all the specimens are pretty ordinary and not exceptional.

        1. An ordinary human being.
        2. One of the many chimpanzees in the world.
        3. One of the many plants in this world.
        4. One of the many bacteria in this world.

        Given an option that you can kill any of these 4 (but you definitely have to kill), do you really think it does not matter which option we choose?

        * I will reply to your other points once we clear this up. I dont want the conversation to be derailed.

      • April 30, 2013 at 10:34

        Well, if the subjects in question are all normal, and assuming I still have desire to live, I would obviously choose a bacterium. You might wonder why and hold on I am not contradicting. I still do not see a difference between killing a life whether it belongs to a bacterium or plant or chimpanzee or human. A life is life– no two questions about it and I stand on that.

        But my choice of killing the bacterium would be on the grounds of consequences one would face. Ethics are made by man based on the consequences of an action and not based on the actuals. To showcase the consequences I modified your earlier example. where killing the human would render a lesser consequence (as anyway he would have been sentenced to death by the court) than a chimpanzee or the plant or the bacterium.

        Here in your current updated version, based on the point of view of “me” in the example, killing the bacterium has a lesser consequence than killing a plant (as it may serve as food to some) and a lesser consequence of killing an animal or human. Nevertheless the life is same and killing of one life is no meaner than the other.

        The reason why the courts are banning the killing of Rhinos or the Pandas or the blackbuck is because they are endangered while they don’t ban chicken or goat or lamb the banning is not on ethical ground but on grounds of consequences.

        I also wish not to derail the discussion. so I would post another comment to summarize the points.

  3. April 30, 2013 at 11:16

    In continuation to previous comment, her is the summary of arguments:

    The blog argues that on ethical grounds one should not kill an animal and induce pain for the purpose of eating. To this my response is the argument based on ethics cannot hold good as ethics are subjective. Ethics are man made and is based on the consequences of the circumstances of a situation / action. It changes from one person point of view to another person point of view. These point of views depends on one’s or society’s mind conditioning. You and me who were born into a vegetarian family and were our mind was conditioned to think that eating non-veg is unethical, therefore we think so and build arguments to support our thinking. And I argued that a life is a life irrespective of to which it is attached to–plant or animal– all are same. Killing animal or plant is same from the point of killing a life.

    To prove your point you gave a scenario of the four different living beings and asked for my choice if I were mandated to choose one of the four to kill in order to live and given that my degree of desire to live supersedes everything else. Perhaps from your view is you would choose bacterium because you are not inducing “PAIN”.

    My argument is ethics cannot be formed based on pain but it should be based on consequence. To prove my point that it is not the pain that matters but the consequence of an action matter, I modified your scenario so as to highlight the consequence of killing each living being.

    Therefore ethics for eating non-veg cannot be drawn based on whether pain is induced or not. Rather ethics has to be based on the consequence of the action. To support this, I placed an argument that the reason why there is a ban on killing endangered animal vs no-ban on killing other animal for the purpose of consuming as food.

    Note: The order in which I would prefer to eat etc posted earlier were just an information as originally I did not expect to have a lengthier dialogu. Also it is not important as it is nether supporting or objecting the arguments in the blog i.e. ethics. So we can safely ignore them.

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