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

The practice of eating meat is unethical

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Post Voting Period
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after 1 vote the winner is...
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 11/29/2013 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 2 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 981 times Debate No: 41418
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (3)
Votes (1)




Please use this first round to accept this debate and, if you wish, address framing concerns.

"The practice of eating meat" will refer to the common and continued practice of consuming non-human animal flesh.

The Pro side is burdened with defending that "Eating meat is unethical." This topic refers to meat consumption as a general practice; therefore, the Pro side does not have to defend that every real and/or hypothetical instance of eating meat is unethical, but instead that in general one who eats meat is engaging in an unethical practice.

Thank you, and good luck!


Very well; I'll take up the con side and take the opposing stance. I reject the proposition that eating meat is unethical.

Since you put yourself up as having a burden, and you started this debate, you may take the opening argument. Best of luck.
Debate Round No. 1


For the following reasons, I urge a Pro ballot:
As a resident of the United States of America, I have read about and even seen firsthand the effects of dehumanization within my homeland. I am white, and live with a mostly-white family, but I also have a black sibling. Once my family visited a restaurant we've been to previously without my sibling.
Because my sibling was black, we were kicked out of the restaurant.
The members of the restaurant had no patience for a racially-mixed family. It was an allusion to a time not long ago to when persons of color were considered mentally and spiritually inferior to white persons. There was a widespread belief among persons who had power that "Negroes" were not fully human--they were spiritually-depraved persons who could not be trusted with their own autonomy. They were often associated with apes, were given a culture of mistrust, and given only partial voting rights. Even earlier, black persons were so dehumanized that they became the economic property of white persons. They were forced into extraordinarily small crates and shipped to America where they would be raped and tortured and made to live at the pleasure of the white master.
The culture believed that the person of color was so inhuman that her only value came from her master, and not from herself. The only difference between the white "human" and the black "animal" is one's body: because one had light skin and the other had dark skin, American politicians were allowed to believe that a black person's value based based on white authority.
Today is Thanksgiving, so I think it appropriate to briefly remind the judge of the travesty that transpired in America that inspired the hypocritical holiday. What Americans celebrate during Thanksgiving is the "settling" (or rather invading) of Europeans into land that was already occupied. The vast and powerful tribes of America were killed, raped, and relocated until they became a fraction of their original stature. What justified the violation and destruction of the American tribal nations? Europeans called them "savages." They were not humans, but instead shadows of humans--some pre-human race capable of only basic and barbarous social interactions. For this reason they did not truly "occupy" space, or have the right to "human" dignities. For this reason they were massacred and moved across the nation: The Trail of Tears occurred because they were in the way.

We often use the word "dehumanization" to refer to the solidifying of "out-groups," the compete lack of empathy and self-identification toward the same, and the absurd hierarchies that occur through this framework. In almost all cases, we use the word "dehumanization" to refer to some horrendous series of policies. Please notice, however, that these policies are for the most part uncontested within the culture that supports them. Jews were "justifiably" exterminated in Nazi Germany until many years after WWII. Native Americans were "justifiably" slaughtered until they were almost extinct. Racism wasn't a bad thing until around 50 years ago. LGBTIQQA persons are only just gaining mainstream acceptance. It is often very hard to halt systematic injustice in the midst of systematic injustice. For this reason one must oppose them at every opportunity.
The problem with "dehumanization" however is the fact that it relies on the presence of a human for its validity. In the cultural status quo, one needs to be of a particular biological species to be considered worthwhile. This requirement for value is ridiculous to the same degree as having a particular skin color, a particular culture, a particular gender, or a particular sexual orientation. A human who lives closely with a dog, cat, or horse should intuitively recognize that these creatures do have value independent of their human price tag. And yet, this belief in the value of non-human life is not extended to the "farm animals," who undergo extreme cruelties solely for the pleasure of the human who is subsequently placed at the peak of the hierarchy of value.

Ninety-nine percent of meat comes from factory farms, so if we are talking about meat-eating in general, it seems only natural that we focus on factory farming. In addition to that, 99% of all slaughtered animals are raised and slaughtered in the United States, so it would seem that factory farms in the United States are most relevant to our discussion.

In America, chickens are not given even the legal status of "animal." This means that literally any cruel action may be taken against the chicken, and it would be legal. They have been bred to be too fat to walk, and live their entire existence in extreme pain. Turkeys are also bred to be too fat to walk or even breed. That's right: humans have made turkey's so fat that they cannot even have sex. The solution? Humans spread the turkey's legs and gives them artificial insemination. This problem of turkey breeding is across factory -style farms and non-factory-style farms. Both chickens and turkey's are crushed to death under their own weight. Chickens, turkeys, and sows are born and die in an unnatural cycle of pregnancy, birth, and slaughter where they never get to see the outside world. Here's a really sick fact: because there is no federal protection for chickens, "almost all chickens are conscious when their throats are cut, and many are literally scalded to death in feather-removal tanks after missing the throat-cutter."

Pigs literally live in their own waste for virtually their entire lives. They are so bored by being in captivity for so long that they exhibit neurotic, self harming behavior. I don't think I need to mention the extraordinary cruelties of veal. Cows are slaughtered when they are very young. When a male cow is born, rather than be given to a live of imprisonment as a dairy cow, he is slaughtered to produce veal, which is prized for its tenderness. The diary cows have strong attachments to their children, and yet their children are stolen away hours after they are born. We drink their stolen milk.
As an aside, the unnaturally large number of animals produced and slaughtered in factory farms are a significant contributor to global warming and soil erosion.
All of these practices represent horrid cruelties and tortures toward creatures who have committed no crime. There is no justice here. By eating meat, one not only symbolically places humankind above the other creatures that she/he determines (in prejudice) is morally and intellectually inferior, but also engages in and funds a system of torture that would be horrible for any creature, regardless of its label or epistemological status. And yet, we continue to ignore these problems. Approximately 9 billion animals are slaughtered in factory farms in America alone. One's enjoyment of animal flesh comes at the cost of agony, and yet many say that it is morally acceptable because humans are omnivores, not recognizing the cultural parallel in which "boys will be boys" is a culturally-acceptable justification for rape. The treatment of animals in factory farms is much like what the treatment of slaves would be in contemporary times, if we could eat slaves.
Animals are alive, and have their own value independent of the economic value we assign them. Factory farms also cause environmental problems, and even health problems. Being vegetarian or, better, vegan is the only ethical choice available.


First off, you can't make assertions like chickens are not considered animals under the law and then refuse to cite them. You also only cited organizations like PETA, farmsanctuary and ecowatch; all organizations with a vested, biased (and in PETA's case, financial) interest in propagating stories that align with their viewpoints. But for the time being, I'll take most of what you said at face-value, since it doesn't really matter anyway.

Because your entire statement is meaningless. The topic is whether or not eating meat is unethical, not whether or not eating this specific meat from this specific source that has faced these specific conditions is unethical. If that's what you're arguing, then you've created an argument that might hold up; but you didn't. I could just as easily say that there's absolutely nothing wrong with animals being raised, cared for well and then killed quickly and cleanly on independent farms and have the same credence as your argument.

You also didn't take into account that eating meat, regardless of how it's obtained, isn't unethical. There's nothing inherently wrong with eating something dead. Our predecessor species wouldn't have evolved to their point without doing it, and nor would we have. The practice of how its obtained and how its killed could be very unethical, but that's, firstly, not important to a dead animal, and secondly, irrelevant to the act of eating meat. If you make that assertion, you also have to assert that everything you do involving corporations is immoral. For instance, every time you go to a bank and give them business, you've committed an immoral act; think of how many lives that the banking system has destroyed through foreclosures, high-risk loans... they tanked the entire economy five years ago. Or another example: if a father works as an assassin and hired gun and uses the money to pay for housing and food for his kids, have his kids committed an unethical act? Granted, the kids know what he's doing, but all the same; they've not committed an immoral act any more than you have when you enter a bank.
Debate Round No. 2


Thank you so much for your thoughtful response, Rekthor!

I will first point out all of the arguments I have made that my opponent directly conceded.
1) Despite pointing out that I need more unbiased sources, my opponent has conceded that there is no legal protection for chickens in factory farms. Even though my opponent conceded, I will again cite using a website sponsored by the Michigan State University College of Law, outlining exactly how non-human animal protections do not apply to chickens. (
2) My opponent seems to concede that factory farms are unethical: "The practice of how its [an animal] [is] obtained and how its [an animal] could very well be unethical..."

Next, I will point out all of the arguments that my opponent conceded indirectly through dropping them. I say "concede" firstly because my opponent had ample space and time to answer (5905 characters left, 2 days)but chose not to,thereby conceding these points. Secondly, my opponent's dropping these points must be considered conceding because I will not be able to argue against them again. If (s)he tries to bring up new analysis on old arguments, (s)he will be effectively denying me a chance to answer them, which would be sneaky, unethical, and unfair. Judge, because my opponent chose not to answer them and had the means to do so, you must count these points as dropped:
1) That the justification of slavery was based on the "inhumanity" of people with different bodies.
2) That black "animals" during slavery were assigned value based on the gains of the dominant group, in this case white "humans," instead of having inherent value. This caused unbelievable instances of what society now deems to be "atrocities."
3) That American Indians were judged inhuman because they had a different culture from that of Europeans. Because they were not considered human, they were abused and slaughtered.
4) That society generally uses irrelevant requirements for separating the human from the non-human.
5) That such a dehumanization leads to horrific practices and genocide
6) That society's using the biological "species" classification for the differentiating the other is ridiculous and problematic to the same degree as sexism, homophobia, and racism.
7) That one who lives with pets naturally understand that non-human animals have their own inherent value independent of their price tags.
8) That 99% of meat comes from factory farms.
9) That 99% of slaughtered animals come from the United States.
10) That if we are discussing meat eating as a general practice, talking about factory farms in the United States is most relevant.
11) That chickens and turkeys are not protected by law and live in excruciating pain for their entire lives due not only to their poor treatment but due to the fact that they are bred to be extraordinarily overweight.
12) That the pain of these overweight poultry apply to virtually all farms, even among the less than one percent not factory farming.
13) That pigs, chickens, and turkeys are born to breed and die and never see the light of day.
14) That chickens are often boiled alive or have their throats cut while conscious.
15) That pigs live in their waste in captivity for their entire lives, causing such severe neurotic, self-harming behavior.
16) That cows are either imprisoned for life or slaughtered as children.
17) That factory farming causes global warming
18) That factory farming causes soil erosion
19) That these practices consist of the torture of innocents
20) That these practices are unjust.

Here are some especially important dropped arguments:
21) That eating meat symbolically places humankind above other creatures, suggesting that non-human animals are morally and intellectually inferior
22) That eating meat engages in a system of torture that would be horrible for anyone
23) That eating meat funds these systems of tortures
24) That this problem is mostly ignored
25) That 9 billion non-human animals are slaughtered yearly in America.
26) That a human's enjoying flesh comes at the price of the agony of non-human animals
27) That the argument that eating meat is natural to the human species is like saying rape is natural for men
28) That factory-farming is akin to the consuming of slaves.
29) That non-human animals have value independent of their economic value
30) That not eating meat is actually good for one's body.

All of the above points have not been addressed directly by my opponent. I will now address problems with my opponent's arguments.
1) My opponent said my sources were biased and I refused to cite where chickens aren't protected by law. Here was my first citation: I also gave a second above. My opponent gives no sources at all and also does not isolate any examples of where my sources' information messed up. My opponent dropped this argument later.
3) My opponent claims that my argument is "meaningless" because I don't talk about how eating meat is unethical, only that factory farms are unethical. My opponent dropped points 21, 22, 23, 26 which point out reasons why eating meat is unethical (mostly that it funds atrocities and is anthropocentric). I will give some additional reasons to further link eating meat to being unethical. By eating meat, one is participating in a kind of slave trade. My opponent has dropped point 28 that equates factory farms to slavery, so this is certainly applicable. In addition to that, buying meat is unethical because it puts a price tag on the life of an animal, who lived and died in pain for a few seconds of unhealthy delight. Also, if all or most people were vegetarian, the factory farm system would begin to crumble. Even a few vegetarians can have an economic impact on factory farms. By never eating meat again, one will have refused to purchase hundreds of animals. Multiply this by hundreds of thousands, and then millions of non-human animals will go un-purchased. Additionally, not eating meat encourages other to do the same, and gets a dialogue going on how our treatment of animals is ghastly and horrific.
4) My opponent state that (s)he would be equally validated in saying that killing animals quickly and "cleanly," and are cared for "well" on independent farms would be ethical. Unfortunately this is not the case. The weight problems of poultry occur across virtually all farms. Additionally, these animals are not in their habitat and are the captives of humans. My opponent's arguments are similar to the one's that long ago were used to defend slavery: that its cruel masters, and not the institution of slavery, that is the problem. Additionally, the farms that my opponent is talking about are extraordinarily rare, and irrelevant for the general practice of eating meat. Also, (s)he neglects my analysis on why eating meat is anthropocentric and an exchange of pleasure for torture, like rape. It also places a price tag on life, which is partially why slavery was cruel.
5) I'm not suggesting that there's something "inherently" wrong with eating meat in the abstract: however, eating meat in the real world is unethical. At the beginning my opponent agreed that I would only need to defend the general practice of eating meat, and not particular hypothetical examples.
6) Our predecessors are not the topic of the debate but us. We would be healthier eating no meat, as you conceded to.
7) The treatment of the animal is relevant to eating meat, as I've pointed out multiple times.
8) My opponent's discussion of the bank is a slippery slope fallacy and strawman fallacy. Purchasing or eating something like slave meat is different from taking out a load. Besides, if banks commit genocide don't go to them.
9) The children scenario is a strawman. We don't need meat to survive, and if we did, that would be an isolated scenario and not meat-eating as defined. Vegetarianism is good for you and safe.


Forfeit. I should have addressed all your points, and due to exams going on my end, I was in a rush. My fault, my error. I attempted a counter-argument before realizing I was grasping at air, and though I've heard differing rules of debate (for one thing, you are permitted to counter an opponents points in the last round of a debate; this is extremely common in professional debates), you're right about the conceding points. I can't move around them without looking like a weasel. I'll happily redebate this topic under better circumstances on my end, but for now, I can't adequately finish. Again, forfeit, and thanks for your time.
Debate Round No. 3
3 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
Posted by Rekthor 2 years ago
Indeed; thanks for the debate and I'll be around.
Posted by kbub 2 years ago
Sometime we should definitely debate again!
Posted by kbub 2 years ago
Sometime we should definitely debate again!
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by Bannanawamajama 2 years ago
Agreed with before the debate:-Vote Checkmark-0 points
Agreed with after the debate:-Vote Checkmark-0 points
Who had better conduct:Vote Checkmark--1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Made more convincing arguments:Vote Checkmark--3 points
Used the most reliable sources:Vote Checkmark--2 points
Total points awarded:60 
Reasons for voting decision: Rekthor forfeited, which seems to violate conduct if nothing else, as you're expected to follow through on the debate. Both presented their arguments clearly, so grammar is a tie. Rekthor used no sources and his only argument was quite sparse, while kbub had a thorough explanation. However, Rekthor did make a salient point that eating meat inherently isn't bad, only the methods we use, and that many of the goods and services we use are linked to abuse and atrocites in some way or another. Since the debate title indicates that eating meat specifically is the object of the debate, kbub's well reasoned statements on animal cruelty don't specifically sway me towards his position. since they seem to address something else.