Let us assume science has demonstrated that vegetarians and careful vegans are just as healthy as – indeed, considerably healthier than – meat-eaters. (It has.) Robert Nozick came up with an interesting hypothetical for those who continue to choose meat in a world where this is so – for those today who opt for the real bacon over the soy bacon not because it’s necessary for one’s health, and not because they bear ill-will towards pigs, but simply because they like the taste more:
“Suppose . . . that I enjoy swinging a baseball bat. It happens that in front of the only place to swing it stands a cow. Swinging the bat unfortunately would involve smashing the cow’s head. But I wouldn’t get fun from doing that; the pleasure comes from exercising my muscles, swinging well, and so on. It's unfortunate that as a side effect (not a means) of my doing this, the animal's skull gets smashed. To be sure, I could forego swinging the bat, and instead bend down and touch my toes or do some other exercise. But this wouldn't be as enjoyable as swinging the bat; I won't get as much fun, pleasure, or delight out of it. So the question is: would it be all right for me to swing the bat in order to get the extra pleasure of swinging it as compared to the best available alternative activity that does not involve harming the animal?”
It appears to me that Nozick is, if anything, too charitable to modern meat eaters, most of whom pay factory farms to subject animals to sustained, excruciating pain rather than ending their lives with a comparably humane blow to the head.
Would any of the meat-eating philosophers in this forum care to explain how their behavior is more justifiable than said bat-swinging?