A recent study released by the Natural Resources Defense Council found that Americans cut their beef consumption by nearly one-fifth from 2005 to 2014. For those who care about animals and the environment, that’s a hugely promising development, right? Ethically speaking, it’s a little more complicated than that.
The basic concern that some animal advocates raise is rooted in the following observation: When people stop eating cows, they don’t eat tofu steaks and mushroom burgers instead; they generally don’t become vegetarians or vegans. What a lot of them do is simply eat more chicken. Many people may have made the switch not out of concern for animal welfare but because they’ve heard about the health risks of eating lots of red meat. They’re “switchetarians,” moving from one kind of animal consumption to another.
If that’s the case, then their choices might not actually translate into an overall drop in animal consumption. In fact, the National Chicken Council shows that when pork and beef consumption decreases, poultry consumption goes up. After all, current science, and the resulting science-section news articles, place less emphasis on the health risks posed by eating chicken and fish. (Though the presence of antibiotics and mercury mean that these still may not be the healthiest options.)
Their own health aside, people might also be eating less red meat because of growing awareness of how much cows, in particular, suffer on factory farms. Cows — pigs, too, for some people — seem to inspire more compassion than chickens and fish. They are mammals with big soulful eyes, and their slaughterhouse deaths, wherein they are electrocuted via the brain or the heart then hoisted in the air to have their throats slit, are gruesome.
From a strict animal rights perspective, however, the fact that mammals like cows and pigs …read more
Source:: Vox – All