2009 Archives

The Ethical Choices in What We Eat

Letters to the Editor


The following "Letter to the Editor" by Jean Kazez, an adjunct professor in the Department of Philosophy of SMU's Dedman College, appeared in the November 23, 2009, edition of The New York Times.

November 24, 2009

Re “Animal, Vegetable, Miserable,” by Gary Steiner (Op-Ed, Nov. 22):

Mr. Steiner might feel less lonely as an ethical vegan — he says he has just five vegan friends — if he recognized that he has allies in mere vegetarians (like me), ethical omnivores and even carnivores. Some of us agree with his outlook, but just don’t have the fortitude to make every sacrifice he makes.

In fact, a whole lot of semi-vegans can do much more for animals than the tiny number of people who are willing to give up all animal products and scrupulously read labels. Farm animals also benefit from the humane farming movement, even if the animal welfare changes it effects are not all that we should hope and work for.

If the goal is not moral perfection for ourselves, but the maximum benefit for animals, half-measures ought to be encouraged and appreciated.

Go vegan, go vegetarian, go humane or just eat less meat. It’s all good advice from the point of view of doing better by animals.

Jean Kazez
Dallas, Nov. 22, 2009

The writer teaches philosophy at Southern Methodist University and is the author of the forthcoming “Animalkind: What We Owe to Animals.”

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