Is eating meat morally acceptable?I disagree with the argument and think that eating meat is morally acceptable. Firstly, there are nutrients in meat that are not present in vegetables, such as...

Is eating meat morally acceptable?

I disagree with the argument and think that eating meat is morally acceptable.

Firstly, there are nutrients in meat that are not present in vegetables, such as fatty acids, calcium and vitamins such as b and b12 that are present in meat but not in plants. Although nutrients such as protein and iron are present in both meat and veg, results have shown that these nutrients intake in plants is much lower than in meat. So to have a more balanced diet we must eat both meat and veg, thus proving the premises wrong to say eating meat is something we do not eat.

Secondly, if all of the people on Earth suddenly turn into vegetarians and stop eating meat, it is going to disturb the ecosystem and maybe even harm the planet. For example, if we do not eat meat such as cows and sheeps, they would be living abundantly on this Earth, with one less predator eating them. This increase would cause much more plants to be eaten, as they are all herbivores, so there may not even be enough vegs for us vegetarians to eat, causing famines or having to revert back to an omnivore, wsating time. Even if we do have enough, there will be very little plants on these earth, causing environmental problems, such as eutrophication and many more, so actually turning into a vegetarian will actually cause much more problems than being a omnivore.

Expert Answers
MaudlinStreet eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The short answer is yes, of course eating meat is morally acceptable. Unfortunately, poster #1, you list several false claims in your post, many of which have nothing to do with morality. Indeed, every single vitamin/mineral you list is found in plants, with the exception of B12, which is found in algae. In that form, it is often used in fortified cereals/grains, so can easily be gained through diet. Also, eating plants are a more efficient way overall to gain these nutrients, once you account for the incredible waste that goes into creating one pound of meat.

That is where the unacceptable aspects of modern factory farming come into play. Eating meat is not immoral, but the way we go about it is. Of course, if you raise a goat from birth, feed it, care for it etc., you know what it's eaten and you're probably not wasting much energy. But on an industrial scale, factory farming is wasteful and in many cases, harmful for your health. That is why organic/locally raised meat from small farms is so much better. I would also argue that hunting is morally acceptable for the same reasons.

I'm a bit disheartened to see so many nutritutional myths perpetuated here, particularly about protein, vitamins, and nutrients in various diets. Most Americans eat more protein than their bodies need, and a balanced plant-based diet provides twice as much protein as one needs, often more easily absorbed and utilized by the body. Your second point is also faulty, as the reason there is such an abundance of livestock on Earth is that we are purposefully raising them. Of course, many cultures don't have access to a varied diet, so protein in the form of meat is essential. However, that is not the case in America, and our method of producing meat has proven worse for the environment and our health overall.

kiwi eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I agree that the moral implications of the issue are to do with where you place humans in the heirarchy - are we above animals or equal to them? As the most evolved species on the planet, it is clear we have a responsibility to preserve ourselves and then look after those beneath us in an humane way.

 Friends of mine who had been vegetarian for years found their decision reversed when visiting a poverty stricken village in India. They were welcomed wholeheartedly by the community and a goat was slaughtered in their honour for the evening meal. The villagers did not have an abundance of crops to choose from, and they had offered their visitors their most precious nourishment as a gift of thanks. Without the Western luxury of a meat-free alternative, and with the degree of humility that such an act demonstrated, they quickly realised that vegetarianism was not a choice for these people, and that survival came first.

Seeking out organic and free-range options for meat means that the consumer has a lot of power to instigate changes to facilitate more humane living conditions for farmed animals (as Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall did with his Chicken Out campaign in the UK). This seems a more balanced idea than avoiding meat altogether.


pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

If I were reading your post as your teacher, I would not be very pleased with it.  The reason for this is that much of your post does not actually answer your question.  The question posed asks whether meat is morally acceptable.  Then, you go on to talk about the nutritional values of meat and vegetables.  The nutritional value has nothing to do with the moral value in my mind.  If there is a connection, you have not made it.  So, if this is for an essay, you need to have all your arguments address the question, which is a question of morality, not of health.

Morally speaking, I do not believe that it is immoral.  My reason for saying this is that I do not believe that animals have the same right to life that human beings do.  I think that if you are going to address this question, you have to ask yourself whether animals have a right to life (and we therefore should not kill and eat them) and whether the issues raised in Post 2 are severe enough to mean that we need to at least change how we raise our meat in order to be moral.

wannam eNotes educator| Certified Educator
I don't think there is anything morally wrong with eating meat. I know there are some religions that are against eating certain types of meat. The reasons behind this tend to be more practal (or historical) than moral though. For instance, certain religions advocate against eating pork. Historically, pork was often more prone to have parasites or create other food poisoning issues. It was more a practical matter to not eat that meat than it was a moral issue. Some religions consider certain animals to be sacred, but that's a different question. That's about religion, not morals. I think the majority of people that argue the moral issues of eating meat tend to be concerned with the treatment of the animals. I think there are ways to raise animals for meat in a compassionate way. Animals don't have to be tortured when they are processed for their meat either. There are humane ways to handle meat processing. But again, meat processing is a different issue from eating meat. I really don't see any moral implications against eating meat.
larrygates eNotes educator| Certified Educator

You appear to have answered your own question; and I can't say that I disagree with you. My own experience is that most vegetarians don't so much object to eating meat on moral grounds as they do the treatment of animals prior to processing. Large scale production facilities often keep animals in crowded conditions where they can not move. Calves to be slaughtered for veal often have their hooves nailed to boards so that they will remain stationary. Geese at pate facilities are often force fed materials which will cause their livers to enlarge. Chickens at processing planst have their beaks clipped to prevent them from attacking each other, a situation which would be less common except that four chickens are often kept in a cage with hardly room for one. The idea is simply to process them as quickly and efficiently as possible in assembly line production without regard to animal safety.

So the argument one most often hears is not meat itself; it is the cruel--and probably immoral--treatment of meat animals prior to processing.

appletrees eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I think there are choices consumers can make that do promote more humane farming practices. Is it morally acceptable to raise animals for slaughter? Maybe, maybe not. But I certainly would rather buy meat that comes from animals who did not endure miserable existences on factory farms. The meat is healthier, the animals are happier, and this seems like a mutually beneficial result of humane farming practices. There's great examples of this in the documentary film FOOD, Inc. which features a poultry farmer who lets his chickens run and feed outside on grass, then kills them quickly and humanely. People drive from the next county to buy his meat. He has the right approach. I have to say I much prefer grass-fed chicken to the usual stuff in the grocery store. It costs more, but good food usually does. In Europe the average portion of the weekly food budget is far highre than in the US; it's a quality of life question.

amy-lepore eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There is nothing morally wrong with eating meat.  As with any food choice, we humans are able to eat anything, but everything in moderation.  No food is unhealthy in small portions.  Meat is not unhealthy in proper portions.  The moral issue stems from whether you, personally, have a problem with eating what was once a living animal.  Keep in mind, however, that protein is needed for healthy muscles, and that humans are the top dog in the pecking order.  They were put here to feed and serve us...they are not equals in terms of critical thinking, decisions vs. instinct, or communication...although some of them come very close. 

bullgatortail eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I certainly find nothing immoral about eating meat--be it beef, pork, chicken, or even lamb, veal or horse. You might get an argument from followers of the Hindu religion in India, however, who consider the cow sacred. It is illegal to kill cows in some Hindu-dominated countries. I had a friend who killed a peacock once in order to taste the meat, and I considered it a reprehensible act, since I've always found peacocks to be such a beautiful bird. I would also find the killing of a pet in order to eat it a terrible travesty, but, right or wrong, I have no problems with the digestion of the aforementioned, standard meats.

accessteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I don't think there is anything wrong with eating meat in itself. My own reasons for restricting my meat intake (I call myself a flexetarian rather than a vegetarian) are due to the way in which the meat industry is helping to destroy the environment through, for example, the destruction of the Amazon to provide more space for cattle for American beefburgers. In addition, I am concerned about the conditions in which animals are kept and how they are slaughtered, meaning that I eat organic wherever possible.

Lori Steinbach eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Your use of the word "acceptable" weakens the question, for it sets a much lower standard than, say, a word like "right" or "correct." The moral issues have been outlined effectively above, and they are quite different than health or social concerns. For me, eating meat is morally acceptable unless you believe the same value should be placed on animals as humans. For those people, eating animals is probably not morally acceptable.

lmetcalf eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Another angle you could explore is the question of whether it is morally right to raise animals for the sole purpose of eventually slaughtering them and eating them.  Is our position on the food chain all that matters here?  I would argue yes, but that is part of the debate about meat production and processing as suggested in the previous posts.

mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

We must not forget why we eat meat:  There is a need for protein.  Animals have provided earlier man with life; without their meat people would have died.  The question is, as already stated, the inhumane treatment and the "assembly line" procedures.

rozenthalm | Student

Morality is a religious concern "I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be food for you. And to the beasts of the earth and all the birds of the air and all the creatures that move on the ground--everything that has the breath of life in it--I give every green plant for food. And it was so" (Genesis 1:29-30).  But later in the Bible eating meat is condoned.

Everyone I know is a vegetarian, and so are you.

All carnivores, such as dogs, cats, lions, tigers, foxes, wolves, etc. have the following characteristics.

  1. They have fangs for tearing meat apart.
  2. They have claws for tearing animals apart.
  3. They have high stomach acid and short intestines to quickly digest the meat before it putrefies.
  4. They cool off by panting.

All herbivores, such as cows, horses, elephants, deer and people have the following characteristics.


  1. They have no sharp fangs, but have teeth for cutting food and chewing, incisors and molars.
  2. The have nails or hooves, but no sharp claws.
  3. They have lower stomach acid and long intestines for slowly digesting vegetation.
  4. The cool of by perspiring.


Moreover, mankind is capable of compassion.  People on vegetarian diets are generally healthier.  Land can produce about ten times as much vegetable protein as meat protein with far less water consumption and waste problems.  Plants don’t cry when they are harvested.



frizzyperm | Student

I think that our moral questions do not really concern 'eating meat'. The consumption of animal carcasses is not morally wrong. Once they are dead, they are dead.

Rather, our moral obligations concern two areas...

1) the first concern is whether it is acceptable to kill animals for our own needs.

2) and, if we think the answer to the 1st concern is 'yes', then the second concern is how they are raised, kept and slaughtered.

These are moral concerns regarding animal husbandry. Your question asks if it is 'morally acceptable to eat meat'. A dead animal has no use for its body, eating it does not present any moral concerns.