Who can be morally obligated to be a vegetarian?

Kathryn Paxton George has recently argued that vegetarianism cannot be a moral obligation for most human beings, even if Tom Regan is correct in arguing that humans and certain nonhuman animals are equally inherently valuable. She holds that Regan's liberty principle permits humans to kill and eat innocent others who have a right to life, provided that doing so prevents humans from being made worse off. George maintains that obstaining from meat and dairy products would in fact make most humans worse off. I argue that Regan's liberty principle either contradicts his equal rights view or does not permit the slaughter of another for food. I show that a different view recognizing the moral rights of nonhumans but according them less value than normal adult humans, the unequal rights view, would permit such action if human survival or health depended upon it. However, it would also permit the slaughter of innocent humans in the same circumstances. Finally, I argue that current nutritional research does not support George's contention that most humans would suffer if they ceased eating other animals and their products.
Keywords Equal rights view  liberty principle  nutrition  unequal rights view  vegetarianism  strict vegetarianism
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DOI 10.1007/BF01966360
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References found in this work BETA
Tom Regan (2009). The Case for Animal Rights. In Steven M. Cahn (ed.), Noûs. Oxford University Press. pp. 425-434.
Evelyn B. Pluhar (1988). When is It Morally Acceptable to Kill Animals? Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics 1 (3):211-224.
Hugh Lehman (1988). On the Moral Acceptability of Killing Animals. Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics 1 (2):155-162.

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Citations of this work BETA
Kathryn Paxton George (1994). Discrimination and Bias in the Vegan Ideal. Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics 7 (1):19-28.
Kathryn Paxton George (1992). The Use and Abuse of Scientific Studies. Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics 5 (2):217-233.
Evelyn Pluhar (1994). Vegetarianism, Morality, and Science Revisited. Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics 7 (1):77-82.

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