On Monday, April 18, 2011, peta2, the youth division of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), hosted a debate at Stirn Auditorium with the Debate Society. The debate revolved around the question, “Is eating meat ethical?”
Arguing for the unethical nature of eating meat were PETA’s Vice-President Bruce Friedrich and the Debate Society’s co-president Justin Patrick ’12. Arguing that it is ethical were Jane Kessner ’14 and co-president Lilia Kilburn ’12.
Friedrich began by explaining that one does not have to change one’s beliefs to agree with his argument. One of his arguments was that eating meat propagates world hunger because raising animals is resource-intensive. For example, 98 percent of the world’s soy is fed to farm animals. He ended his time by questioning the integrity of people who believe there is nothing wrong with eating meat by asking if they would kill the animals themselves.
Kilburn argued that animals are unable to create a form of social contract in which the animals have a moral obligation to humans. She also argued that famine is a “political problem,” not a problem that can be fixed through not eating meat.
Patrick, a life-long vegetarian, then took to the floor and discussed the College’s purchase of factory-produced food rather than looking for more eco-friendly options. In his argument against meat eating, he said that the content of beings’ DNA — the DNA of a human versus the DNA of an animal — is not relevant to the talk of morals. He also argued that the cruelty that animals face could be considered felonious if analyzed.
Kessner went last and argued that, when it comes down to it, there is nothing “inherently” unethical with eating meat. She argued that there is currently a transition toward the better treatment of animals. Kessner also said that the corporations are behind some of the issues, rendering part of the debate as political. She also mentioned the need for more conscienticious meat eaters.
Friedrich delivered a few closing remarks in which he explained that the College is not living up to its standards by continuing to use battery-caged eggs in the dining hall while comparable institutions have moved to better options. According to him, battery cages are an unethical treatment of the chickens. He urged the College to move towards finding better options.
Lilly Jay ’15E contributed reporting.