I read a really good article this morning on AlterNet about the "happy meat" movement and all of the articles that have been popping up in mainstream media about so-called concientious meat consumption. Sunaura and Alexander Taylor point out that the movement is just a half-arsed and unrealistic dismissal of industrial meat production that doesn't really get to the root of what's wrong with consuming animals in the first place.
The article acknowledges the inherent suffering involved in factory farming, as well as its environmental destruction, and points out that neither of these issues is resolved with this alternative (i.e. buying local and free-range products from small farmers) that's being touted and misrepresented by foodies the world over as humane and sustainable:
This meat is high-priced, and its production is an even less-efficient use of land and resources. It is often marketed as luxurious, an indulgence to be lingered over. It is inherently not adaptable to a national or international solution. Local organic meat is for an elite few, and not a practicable alternative to the massive crisis of industrial meat production.And furthermore (and most importantly) that,
all of this is in many ways ignoring an even more complex question. Do humans even have the right to make other living beings into objects of production that we can kill even when it is unnecessary to do so, merely for our pleasure?Taylor and Taylor then proceed to dismantle a couple of the arguments frequently given against veganism's being a viable solution to the environmental impact of meat-eating -- that vegans need to eat processed foods that waste natural resources and that soy is dangerous to one's health. Neither soy nor processed foods, of course, are necessary for vegans, so these arguments are irrelevant.
They then focus on this pervasive culture of meat-eating that seems to leave purportedly "conscientious carnivores" unable (or unwilling) to admit that consuming animals is, at the very least, unnecessary, and at the very worst (as stated by Gary L. Francione), "morally schizophrenic" and proceed to present different arguments for veganism, including that
[v]eganism is humanitarian. Becoming vegan is good for the planet and for hungry people around the globe. It is perhaps the only practicable solution to the global food crisis. It does not indicate a preference for animals over people. It is egalitarian as it does not create a class system of food access.and that
[w]e are animals that have evolved to recognize other beings' subjectivity, to experience empathy, and who have advanced beyond the necessity of violence to supply ourselves with food. We, uniquely, choose what we eat.The article is definitely worth a read, although many of the the readers' comments following it aren't worth much more than a roll of the eyes.