Can anyone defend using animals as food? All I see are pro-vegetarian responses. We shouldn't hurt animals etc etc...they are alive. Plants are alive. As are bacteria. Why is eating bacteria and plants condoned? Having helped raise chickens I am not inclined to think they are more intelligent than your average root vegetable. And I was thinking. I recently got offered a job that several fairly desperate people I know needed. Needed badly. They need to support families and children. Yet I got the job. I earned it. Should I step aside and let one of my less qualified colleagues have the job. Should I spare them the pain and discomfort of being jobless and searching? If I shouldn't eat animals, because it causes them pain, then shouldn't I not take this job because it causes a human being pain? Is there not a limit to this line of thinking. By virtue of being mariginally attractive, I "won" a competition for a mans attention. He was subsequently my boyfriend and I loved him. However, the runner up resented me and was greatly distressed- should I step aside in this as well? Do you understand what I am trying to say- however ineptly? Thank you.

I understand. I believe you are making the point that (in the case of the boyfriend and the job) we do not always have duties to minimize the stress or pain of others. In the two cases you cite, I think we can even propose that you have zero obligation of any sort to relieve stress. In the case of raising nonhuman animals, however, the case is different (they are not suffering, if they are suffering at all due to the aftereffect of a fair competition, because of a romantic competition or competition on a job front; rather they are made the direct object of suffering for the sake of benefiting another party). So, I suggest that if we do have reason to believe that, say, chickens are the object of directly inflicted suffering, this is something to take seriously ethically. Two things can be said on behalf of your position: while I think chickens have feelings and plants do not (plants lack brains, nervous system...), it may be that by allowing them to be free range or not overly cramped, you are able to give them a decent life, without intense suffering. A second point follows the first, you may be allowing and bringing about more life than if we all went vegetarian. Assuming it is good for there to be chickens (they have the goods of motion, feeling, play...), it might be better for them to have lived and be eaten than never to have lived at all.

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