Respect the Animal's Life and Well-Being Before My Freedom of Choice
An Animal Rights Article from


Gary Loewenthal, Animal Writings
May 2005

Meat-eater to ethical vegetarian: "I respect your preference to not eat animals, but I prefer to eat them."

The person saying this may mean well, but she does not really respect the vegetarian. This is especially true if the meat-eater eats meat from factory farms (the source of most meat and dairy), and is at least somewhat aware of the cruelties in those places.


  1. The meat-eater is implying that supporting battery cages, intense confinement, isolation, inhumane transport, and the whole rash of factory farm horrors is morally equivalent to boycotting them. In other words, choosing whether or not to pay people to lock a pig in a tiny crate for most of her life, and subject her to a slaughtering process in which she may be fully conscious when dunked into scalding hot water, is like choosing between two colors of paint.
  2. The meat-eater is not really respecting the vegetarian when she engages in the act that the vegetarian finds morally objectionable. Merely stating that no one should be forced to eat animals misses the point. What the vegetarian objects to is forcing animals to suffer and die to satisfy a human's preference. (We are talking about people in the developed world for whom meat consumption is discretionary.) The meat-eater essentially commands that animals suffer and die on her behalf. I would say this pretty flagrantly violates the wish of the ethical vegetarian to spare cows, chickens, pigs, and other animals from unnecessary harm.
  3. It is not nearly as important to respect the vegetarian as it is to respect the animals that bear the brunt of the meat-eater's decisions. The animals pay for the indulgences of the meat-eater with their lives and their happiness. They forfeit any chance of normalcy because meat-eaters don't want to change their habits. Please disrespect me all you want. Just don't take it out on the animals, who have no recourse.

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