How do atheists justify eating meat on an ethical basis?

As we all evolved from common ancestors, and atheists reject the idea that we have god given dominion over the other animals, what ethical justification is there for not considering then suffering of other species?

It seems that to discriminate on the grounds of species is just as arbitrary as to discriminate on the basis of skin colour, sex etc.

I base my ethics on minimising unnecessary suffering and death and promoting well being and happiness. What are others ethics based upon?

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I eat meat but the arguments here against the examination of the practice sound defensive and irrational. Because ancestors did it is not exactly a sound argument.  And why so testy and mean about it? 

But she can have an opinion, right? She should also be prepared to discuss her moral stances, provide evidence etc. surely there is nothing wrong with that. Why be so testy as Annet describes it?

@annet. Glad it's not just me that picked up on it! It may come as a surprise to some here but Richard Dawkins agrees with me on this issue. Einstein was a vegetarian. This demonstrates that this is not some hollier than thou rant but an attempt at a proper discussion. Evolution is a relevant subject here because 1. It shows us we are just animals, like all the others 2. It infers a rejection of the 'dominance over the animals' Genesis bit.

Richard Dawkins is not a vegetarian, I know this for a fact; I watched him eat lunch last Saturday at Ft. Bragg, NC.

The Dalai Lama isn't a vegetarian either.  

I know he is not a vegetarian. Where did I say that. I said he agreed with me, that meat eating was ethically questionable and he could not justify it.

"It may come as a surprise to some here but Richard Dawkins agrees with me on this issue."

Is not

"I said he agreed with me, that meat eating was ethically questionable and he could not justify it."

Look up, it's (not) there in black and white.

You are being pedantic. For the sake of clarity I am saying he is unable to defend meat eating on an ethical or moral basis. But he eats meat, basically because everyone else does. Not a good reason in my opinion. Just like everyone once thought sexism or slavery was acceptable.

@ Don Weller.


No-one is saying you are bad. Just after a sensible open discussion!


"FACT: when our primate ancestors went from eating leaves, to eating flesh, their brains “evolved” until they became the ultimate Human brain. In other words, we owe EVERYTHING to “meat” (period!). (So, when you know the facts of evolution & science... do you wonder if vegan's “brains” are “de-evolving” back to that of apes??). Also, the human digestive system evolved to be omnivorous. In other words... we are SUPPOSE to eat both veggies AND meat! "


Our ancesters ate meat so we can eat meat. I don't follow this logic given we now have evolved the ability for rational thought and ethical considerations. As you know, females of our species can become pregnant at the age of 10 or 11 in some cases. We think nowadays that would be unethical. Are you saying we should carry on and impregnate them. Of course not. the point is we are not bound to act like we did 100,000 years ago.


As we can eat meat and veggies, or just veggies and remain healthy - there isn't an argument to say we are supposed to do anything. There is no health reason. There is no ethical reason.


Are you really saying that Adolf Hitler was the founding father of vegetarianism. This is the worst piece of propoganda I've read. Einstein was a vegetarian. Are you saying all vegetarians are Nazis? This is a new low.



"Are you saying all vegetarians are Nazis? This is a new low."

Where did he say that?

I was asking. What has Hitler got to do with anything anyway. Stalin was an atheist. Does this mean atheism is wrong?

Why does any atheist forum with a subject like Ethics & Morals exist here?  What is the concept of ethics if it does not extend our sphere of concerns beyond self interest?  One writer here described the golden rule in a way I never thought of it.  I always thought it was a call to use empathy -"How would I feel if someone acted that way toward me?  I'd feel bad, or good.  Others feel similarly. Then, the most difficult trick is to care whether or not another feels that way.  Not everyone does.  One writer here described the golden rule more as treating another, equally powerful, person in a certain way SO THAT he will treat you that way.  Viewed that way, we would bother to adjust our behavior only toward those who have some power over us.   

To me, ethics is a realm where self-interest is not the only interest.

@ John D:  "I will not mollify and forgive someone who murders others just for money or power.  I will not forgive someone who can only express their sexuality and power by repeatedly raping and abusing others."  This is what humans do to animals.  But those of us who respect other animals are not supposed to so much as mention it.




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