Vegetarianism, sentimental or ethical?

In this paper, I provide some evidence for the view that a common charge against those who adopt vegetarianism is that they would be sentimental. I argue that this charge is pressed frequently by those who adopt moral absolutism, a position that I reject, before exploring the question if vegetarianism might make sense. I discuss three concerns that might motivate those who adopt vegetarian diets, including a concern with the human health and environmental costs of some alternative diets, a concern about inflicting pain on animals, and a concern with the killing of animals. While I argue that vegetarianism does not make sense in some situations, I hope that this paper shows that there are many good reasons why the adoption of vegetarian, and—even more so—vegan diets might be appropriate in some situations. In carving out this position, I focus primarily on the question whether a morally relevant distinction between the killing of plants and the killing of animals should be made. I engage primarily with the views of two of the most prominent authors on this issue, arguing that neither Peter Singer nor Tom Regan provide a satisfactory account on the ethics of killing nonhuman organisms. Two views are challenged in particular, the view that relatively simple animals such as molluscs, as well as plants, lack awareness, and the view that animals without a preference to continue living stand to lose little or nothing by being killed. I provide some evidence to support the claim that many share my view that it is more problematic to kill animals than to kill plants, before analyzing why some suppress the negative feelings they associate with killing animals. By exploring these issues I hope to shed some light on the issue of whether the feelings of those who adopt vegetarianism are sentimental or make sense, and to stimulate reflection amongst those with an interest in food ethics.
Keywords Animals  Diet  Ethics  Food  Rights  Veganism  Vegetarianism
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1007/s10806-009-9176-3
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
Edit this record
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Mark as duplicate
Request removal from index
Revision history
Download options
Our Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 30,349
Through your library
References found in this work BETA
A Treatise of Human Nature.David Hume - 1739/2000 - Oxford University Press.
Animal Liberation.Peter Singer (ed.) - 1990 - Avon Books.
The Case for Animal Rights.Tom Regan - 2009 - In Steven M. Cahn (ed.), Noûs. Oxford University Press. pp. 425-434.
Sentiment and Value.Justin D'Arms & Daniel Jacobson - 2000 - Ethics 110 (4):722-748.

View all 32 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA
In Defence of the Vegan Project.Jan Deckers - 2013 - Journal of Bioethical Inquiry 10 (2):187-195.
Obesity, Public Health, and the Consumption of Animal Products.Jan Deckers - 2013 - Journal of Bioethical Inquiry 10 (1):29-38.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles
Who Can Be Morally Obligated to Be a Vegetarian?Evelyn Pluhar - 1992 - Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics 5 (2):189-215.
A Catholic Case for Vegetarianism.Andrew Tardiff - 1998 - Faith and Philosophy 15 (2):210-222.
Hierarchy and the Animals.Michael Forest - 2004 - Philosophy in the Contemporary World 11 (2):31-36.
On Vegetarianism, Morality, and Science: A Counter Reply. [REVIEW]Evelyn B. Pluhar - 1993 - Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics 6 (2):185-213.
When is It Morally Acceptable to Kill Animals?Evelyn B. Pluhar - 1988 - Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics 1 (3):211-224.
Food Fight! Davis Versus Regan on the Ethics of Eating Beef.Andy Lamey - 2007 - Journal of Social Philosophy 38 (2):331–348.
On the Moral Acceptability of Killing Animals.Hugh Lehman - 1988 - Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics 1 (2):155-162.
Added to PP index

Total downloads
1,957 ( #220 of 2,193,707 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
10 ( #19,178 of 2,193,707 )

How can I increase my downloads?

Monthly downloads
My notes
Sign in to use this feature