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The Ethical Eating Of Sentient Life. Is It Possible?

For the following questions, I am using the phrase "sentient-free diet" to mean food intake that is not based on the premature killing of living animals. By "sentient" I mean the etymologically correct term, capable of feeling (capable of thinking is sapience). Such a diet can include vegetarians, vegans, and even people who eat carrion.

What are the best ethical reason *against* a sentient-free diet or similar? For example, the argument eating grains is worse as industrial grain productions cause the violent deaths of lots of little rodents.

I am not interested in the aesthetic reasons; yes, animals are delicious, but it is difficult to ethically argue that one's sensual desires are above the desire for another sentient being not to be eaten.

Is the consumption of one animal more or less ethically justified than another? Yes, I've seen the funny modification on the PETA "where do you draw the line" billboard. Funny, but not entirely an ethical argument. Are oysters vegan (no really, look it up)? What about consensual cannibalism among humans?

If there are no or few acceptable ethical reasons against such sentient-free diets, what are the ethical reasons against it being compulsory? "Free choice" is probably a bad argument here, because there is a victim involved and extending that reasoning would be interesting. What are the exceptions where sentient consumption is justified?

Nota bene: I recognise that there are some nutrients necessary for humans that are only found via animal-products. For example, choline which is important for brain health, vitamin B12 for the production of your red blood cells and functioning of the nervous system, and some omega-3 fatty acids. Supplements are available and necessary for all these in a sentient-free diet.

Commenting on this Blog entry will be automatically closed on June 19, 2020.


This 'blog post was posted on the Isocracy FB group and on the DW group, talk_politics.

The most mendacious arguments tried to change the definition of "sentience" to include species that have no central nervous system or brain, based on reactions (e.g., various forms of plant life). Even if one accepts such speculations, it is clear that there is a continuum present of different degrees of sentience.

More serious contributions raised the issue that it is a good life that has priority (e.g., concerns with factory farming versus free-range, for example).

The political issues were pithily summarised as that as much as we can determine preferences in other species we should respect that and that cruelty should not be a consumer choice.

There was broad agreement that the cultural shift required for such a change is enormous and it is more probable that technological and economic changes are most likely to make the difference.