The Instigator
Pro (for)
0 Points
The Contender
Con (against)
3 Points

Eating Meat is Unethical!

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Post Voting Period
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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 6/28/2013 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 3,777 times Debate No: 35138
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (1)
Votes (1)




Eating Meat is Unethical!

I will stick to only one argument in this debate and focus on one angle. I will present many more arguments in the future to describe why humans don't need to eat animal flesh to survive. I am a perfect example of it.

Meat eaters argue: We have canine teeth, thus we were desgined to eat meat.

This argument makes no sense.

We need canine teeth to eat apples, bread, peaches, or just about any other hard-to-eat-and-chew food. OK may not be for rice, but certainly for many other food types, we need such teeth.

Also, physiology and natural capabilities does not mean we should use them for meat eating. The whole argument that "We have such capabilities, therefore we were designed to eat meat" is laughable on its face.

Adults have capabilities to molest children and to make IEDs and nuclear bombs. Would you argue therefore that we should molest kids and also build bombs and kill other humans? Most rational human beings would not.

So why do meat eaters use the argument that "capabilities imply justification"?

Reminder: Please do not sidetrack this argument by bringing in the issue of proteins and B12 and hunger and taste and other irrelevant arguments. My argument is strictly focused on the issue of misguided justification of eating meat because we have capabilities to do so. Please focus on human physiology and capabilities to justify why you feel we were "designed" to eat meat.

Also, designed by who? God? Did God say it would be nice to create animals that could suffer unbearable pain to satisfy human needs? Is that it? You may focus on this issue also since it deals with human physiology and capabilities to justify meat eating.


I thank Pro for posting this. It is a nice break from most of the government-related (or theological) arguments that seem to be predominant. Don't get me wrong, those debates are great. But every once in a while, we must have a break from the monotony of repetitive resolutions.

I will be representing Con in this argument. I stand resolved that: Eating meat is NOT unethical.

First I believe we should establish an imperative definition in this debate round. This is the definition of the word "ethical". Ethical, as defined by the Merriam Webster online dictionary, is:

1- of or relating to ethics <ethical theories>
2- involving or expressing moral approval or disapproval<ethical judgments>
3- conforming to accepted standards of conduct <ethicalbehavior>
4- of a drug : restricted to sale only on a doctor's prescription

I propose we use defintion 3. "Conforming to accepted standards of conduct" If the Pro would like to use a different definition, I encourage him to provide it and a reason why it is more accurate to this round than mine.

I will be running three different main arguments.

C1: Animals eat as they are designed to do. Humans should, too.
First, other creatures perform and diet as they are created to do. Our physical build implies that we, as humans, should consume meat. True, just because we have capabilities to do things, we shouldn't necessarily do them. However, as far as diets are concerned, there is not a single mammal that is not designed to eat what it doe, in fact, eat.

C2: Eating meat is ethical because it is accepted in society.
Society defines what is "ethical" and what is not. If we are to be looking at whether or not meat eating is truly ethical, then we have to follow the definition.

I truly hope for a great debate round, and eagerly await your response.
Debate Round No. 1


JustinAMoffatt: Thanks for your kind words and accepting this debate. I also enjoy debating political points but this issue of ethics also interest me very much. In reference to your points:

You said: "Animals eat as they are designed to do". I disagree. It's not the design so much that forces them to eat the food they eat. It's their lack of choices. Animals cannot grow vegetables and farm crops such as corn and soy. Animals eat what they must. The beauty of human anatomy is that humans can cook and eat vegetarian food and prevent animal suffering. As you agreed, capabilities alone do not justify actions. This was my whole point. We can make ethical and rational choices and cause less suffering on this planet.

As to your second point: "Eating meat is ethical because it is accepted in society." Child marriages are accepted in Sharia law in Pakistan. They were once accepted in mormon societies also. A girl aged 13 can be married off in Pakistan if she is past her initial puberty period in her life. Child labor practices are common in Nepal, India and parts of Africa. Slavery is accepted in parts of the world although it's not called slavery. Many societies perfectly accept second class status of women yet we frown upon them. USA has had slavery, women once upon a time could not vote, yet we threw out all those "unethical and irrational" belief systems long ago to treat others with dignity and respect.

Thus my argument that we can change and live a compassionate life. Capabilities does not justify actions, as seen in the case of violence and sexual offenses. We restrain ourselves to prevent harm to other humans. Why can't we do the same to prevent suffering of animals?



I would like to thank my opponent for responding quickly and thoroughly.

I will be addressing his responses to my arguments. I will also add another argument.


C1: Humans capabilities justify actions, due to similar animal behavior.
My opponent provided a very valid point in refuting this argument. He said that humans, as sentient beings, and with the ability to be omnivorous, should avoid eating animals, so as not to cause them suffering. However, I bring up the example of the bear. The bear has the ability to eat both plants AND meat. Do we claim the bear is unethical when it eats a fish? No. This is because it is accepted in society. This brings me to the crucial argument of the round, argument 2.

C2: Eating meat is ethical because it is accepted.
My opponent tried to deflect this argument by using a moral standard. It is morally wrong and unethical in our society to marry off children at a young age. However, this proves my point. The definition of ethical, which was not disputed by the Pro, is this, "Conforming to accepted standards of conduct". In sharia law, child marriages ARE ethical. Are they moral? In my opinion, no. But that is not the resolution, and therefore, not the debate. We must look at the ethics
of whether or not should eat meat. Seeing as the consumption of meat is widely accepted in our society, it should be deemed ethical.

C3: Eating animals does not cause them to suffer.
Lastly, I would like to propose this fina argument. There are many painless ways of ending animal's lives. In fact, humans as creatures are FAR more sensitive to animal pain whilst hunting them. We are the most humane hunters, far exceeding those of the animal kingdom. Now, whichever way this argument flows should not affect the round. However, it is worth pointing out that humans are probably the most legitimate and humane carnivores out there.

Next round my opponent will present closing statements, I presume. I will not bring up any new arguments after that, seeing as how he will not be able to respond to them. However, I will address any arguments or refutations he provides in his next speech.

A pleasure, as always. Looking forward to hearing your arguments.
Debate Round No. 2


Thank you Mr. JustinAMoffatt for your arguments. I will provide my reply below to your most recent arguments below.

In response to: C1: Humans capabilities justify actions, due to similar animal behavior.

I do not believe that we as humans take cues from animals to justify our behaviors. Animals and humans are totally different animals (no pun intended). Animals don't wear clothes, have sex in the open, they don't have court system to resolve disputes, thus they resort to violence. They are not capable of thinking. And again, they cannot grow crops, don't have refrigerators to store food, can't follow cookbook recipes, don't have kitchens to prepare meals and cannot make sauces, spices, gravies, curries, fried food, desserts, snacks and a thousands of other things. Bears are unable to make rational choices.

So when you say "Bear has the ability to eat plants and animals, do we call a bear unethical?", I say no. Once again, animal ethics and human ethics operate on different levels. The whole point of my argument was that we cannot apply same ethical standards and use the same arguments of "Capabilities justify actions" - In other words - We should do it because animals do it too - is not a valid justification for our actions. Bears cannot think philosophically to apply ethics. Their intellectual capabilities are far lower than human intelligence. Same as when a child cries and throws tantrums when he is upset, but most rational adults do not. We cannot apply same standards to creatures of lower intelligence as we do to fully grown adult humans.

Your second argument: C2: Eating meat is ethical because it is accepted.

Although meat eating is accepted in the society, in the past we also accepted segregation, slavery, second class status of women etc. Even today, under sharia law, a society can accept beheading, stoning to death of adulterers, dismembering for theft and/or petty crimes, child marriages of 13 year old girls, lashing teenage girls for having an "affair" with boys etc. In our country (USA) we do not accept these practices as moral or ethical. In fact in most parts of the world these practices are considered barbaric.

Any ways, I wanted to focus on the argument from the perspective of "Capabilities imply justification of action", which we both seem to agree is not a valid argument. In other words, canines are required as much to eat an apple and pineapple as for eating meat. The original argument I made was that conveniently using our anatomical structure to imply application for one use while ignoring the requirements for other uses is not rational.

C3: Eating animals does not cause them to suffer.

Animals experience severe pain and go through massive suffering in captive farming. This can be easily verified as the animals are led to their sacrificial point in an abattoir. There is no such thing as humane slaughter just as there is no such thing as humane murder or humane sexual assault. Yes, the death penalty is carried out with least amount of suffering human possible but this does not happen when humans are killed outside of prison walls by other humans.

Again thanks for presenting your counter points. So again, my original focus was to refute the idea that we should eat animals because we have the capabilities to do so. As pointed out earlier, we have capabilities to do a lot more harm to ourselves and our fellow humans. We restrain ourselves from causing harm to other people and our planet as much as we can. Having capabilities to perform sexual assaults and carry out massacres does not mean we should or will do it. The same rules should be applied to the concept of meat eating since there are alternatives available to us to live a compassionate, healthy life. Thank you.



I will reserve formalities for the end of this particular post, seeing as it is the last of this debate. So first, my final arguments/conclusion.

C1: Human's capabilities justify actions, due to similar animal behavior.
While this is in no way the crux of our debate round, and it is certainly not a voting issue, this is an interesting argument to be sure. However, my opponent bases his argument in this off his opinion that "humans different than animals". We are certainly more advanced in our reasoning, yes. However, this doesn't change that we're designed similarly to animals. They eat what their bodies are made to eat. Why whouldn't we? We can farm, yes. But if animals are freed from any moral obligation to NOT be carnivores, why aren't we excused as well? My opponent has no response except for the fact that we can eat other things, and have other methods of getting food. However, I state again, bears can choose to eat berries and fruit instead of animals. They have the capability of doing that. They know that the animals they eat are being killed and eaten. I believe that animals can think. Since you have no further proof to back up your opinion contradicting mine, then we are at an impasse as far as opinions go.

C2: Eating meat is ethical because it is accepted.
THIS is the voting issue, folks. Why? Because this is the only argument dealing with the resolution. In debates, we must debate the resolution. The resolution for this topic was "Eating meat is unethical". Whether or not my opponent chose to take a certain line of argumentation defending this statement is irrelevant. If at the end of the day, eating meet can be deemed ethical (by definition) from the facts in this debate round, then a Con ballot is warranted. Remember, ethical isn't synonymous with moral. Therefore, my opponent's references to culture's immoral reactions to moral or immoral things are unrelated to the topic and should be dismissed.

C3: Humans are the most humane hunters on Earth.
My opponent stated his opinion that we are inhumane in the way we treat animals before they are killed. However, he then went on to say that humans are very humane in the way they kill prisoners. (After implying a comparison between human prisoners and captive animals, I was a bit confused) Then, he stated that humans are most inhumane when killing outside of prisons. In the end, I was puzzled as to where this argument was supposed to end up. However, this argument is (again) irrelevant due to the fact that the resolution only regards ethics, not morals.

I remind you all once again that the resolution was "Meat eating is unethical". I provided an undisputed definition of ethical. I showed how meat eating fell under the definition of ethical. My opponent failed to refute this.

For all these reasons, I strongly urge a vote for CON.

To Con (directly):
Thank you so much for such a fun debate. It's always nice to be able to argue something until the end and see how it all panned out. I understood what you meant by your trying to argue this from a certain aspect. However, you did not frame the resolution this way. As I explained above, debate ballots must operate solely off the resolution. However, you did have valid points and I applaud you for that. I look forward to debating you in the future, and I am going to friend you. If you have a challenge for me, don't hesitate to send it my way! Thanks and God bless.
Debate Round No. 3
1 comment has been posted on this debate.
Posted by DeFool 3 years ago
In the end, this debate came down to two conditions. First, Pro states clearly in R1 that this debate can only be intended to discuss whether or not the consumption of meat is ethical from the standpoint of ability; that is, to answer the question, "is it ethical to eat meat simply because we can?" Con"s main attack centered around the definition of ethical as being "a common practice." This created a problem as I scored the contest. That is, the question to be resolved became "Is it a commonly accepted practice to eat meat, simply because we can?"

I felt that Con"s argument that "bears are not unethical when they eat fish, because it is normal for them" was decisive. This was conceded by Pro, who argued in answer that "animal behavior is not necessarily human behavior." To me, this allows a score to be awarded to Con for arguments, since the capability for bears to eat fish was conceded as not unethical, because the behavior was "animalistic" (my term.) As this should be considered a form of "ability," the ability to eat meat can reasonably be described as "common" and therefore its practice "ethical."

According to this debate, humans have the common ability to eat meat, and do so on a regular basis. This argument allows for the definition of "ethical" as well as answers the question "is it ethical (commonly accepted) to eat meat simply because we can?"
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by DeFool 3 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: Please refer to the comments section for my RFD.