One of the problems with subscribing to the New York Times is that on occasion, you end up reading it. That happened to me last Sunday as I pawed through the Sunday magazine to see there in black and white somebody writing into “The Ethicist” (the Miss Manners of moral conundrums ) about the moral conundrum of eating meat.

Since the New York Times has been talking out of both sides of its mouth on the issue I was curious to see what their high priest of right and wrong, The Ethicist, would have to say when confronted directly with the question: “Is it ethical to pay someone else to kill a (food) animal because I can’t or don’t want to know what’s involved?”

The reader who sent in the question wrote that he or she wasn’t worried about the health, religious or even the environmental reasons to not eat meat. It was just the idea of paying someone else to do the deed that troubled this reader.

Within the animal rights movement the answer is clear. Just don’t do it. Learn to like lentils and other foods that don’t involve blood.

But the New York Times is not the animal rights movement and neither is The Ethicist, Chuck Klosterman. Klosterman boiled down the reader’s question to: “Is it the process of killing animals that bothers you or the very idea?”

The Ethicist asked the reader to consider a hypothetical situation: A healthy cow is led into a solid steel box. A button is pushed and out comes steaks. Could the reader push the button? If the reader could push the button, fine, he’s not a hypocrite to eat meat. But if the reader couldn’t push the button then he probably shouldn’t eat meat.

Hummm, what does pushing a button to kill someone without seeing a thing remind you of?

The Ethicist proposes another way for the reader to access his true feelings about the animal slaughter matter:

“Watch videos of cows on YouTube for 10 minutes. After that spend another 10 minutes reading expository nonpolitical articles about cattle-slaughtering practices in North America. If you still want a burger after those 20 minutes, you no longer have to worry about this problem. You are not a hypocrite. You’re merely squeamish.”

(Note: the Ethicist doesn’t say watch YouTube videos of animal slaughter.)

Soooooo, if I feel like stealing jewelry at Nordstrom is it OK? If I feel like running over someone with my car is that OK?

— A Vicious Vegan blog post —


  1. I read that piece this weekend, also. I am glad you wrote something in response, because I found his whole round about way of addressing the ethics of slaughtering of animals for food to be disturbing and odd. Maybe you should send Chuck Klosterman, “The Ethicist”, a copy of your blog post.

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