Animal Eating: To Eat To Live Or Live To Eat

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Table of contents

  1. Explanation of the Ethical Theory
  2. Application of the Ethical Theory
  3. References

Eating is one way that can deepen relationships from friendships to romances and so much more. But eating can signal a devotion to a culture, religion or lifestyle choice based on what animals we eat (Thames, 2018). Many believe that animals should not be eaten because when obtaining the meat animals are treated cruelly or with abuse, more or less killed unjustly. But they are willing to eat the products of animals such as milk, or eggs, these are called vegetarians. Others believe that no one should eat any animal or products from animals but eat only what the earth has provided, these are called vegans. There are many different views on whether humans should consume animals as a type of food or protein for our bodies, but one side is not any more right than the other. No matter the diet one chooses or the religion one belongs to.

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The view of eating animals has been around since the ancient world. According to Thames, 2018 Aristotle stated “plants are for the sake of animals, and the other animals are for the sake of human beings, domestic ones both for using and eating and most but not all wild ones for food and other kinds of support.... If then nature makes nothing incomplete or pointless, it must have made all of them for the sake of human beings”. There were many that agreed with Aristotle’s views but also believed that “animals should be treated with compassion and charity because it was important to behave ethically toward other humans”. (Ryder, 1998) This leads to not only having many views on whether we should eat animals but also the views on how we treat them. Many advocate that animals should be treated with respect on both farms and other contexts. As others state that it does not matter how we treat them or what we eat because it is all merely personal.

Explanation of the Ethical Theory

Utilitarianism is morally the best action that makes the most of all happiness. In simple terms, this is based mainly on the consequences of one’s actions. Utilitarian’s focus on the reducing of suffering and maximize pleasure or happiness. Some philosophers that helped this approach develop were Jeremy Bentham and John Stuart Mill. Both men believed that we should identify good with pleasure. For example, some of what Bentham believed was that animal suffering was morally wrong and implicated meat consumption. Meaning that animals to feel pain and empathy and should be protected. An animal should not have to suffer as a result of one’s food source. According to Thames, 2018 “When we compare the impact that choice might have on the suffering of animals with the pleasure gained from the consumption of that meat, the pleasure decidedly outstrips the harmful impact”. Meaning that beings do not really think about how an animal is treated before it is killed and packaged, they are only thinking about how happy they will be with a full belly. This argument takes us to another philosopher’s theory and this is Immanuel Kant. Kant believed that the way one treats an animal will reflect on the way they treat other beings and treating animals humanely results in the best outcome. However, Kant also believed animals cannot set their own moral rules as humans do and as long as the animal is not suffering or in pain. The consumption of them is morally just, and the only way animal cruelty is ok is if the benefits of beings outweigh the harm. Utilitarianism has many different thoughts and theories and one is not any more correct than the others it is simply a personal decision.

Application of the Ethical Theory

With the utilitarianism theory being applied consuming meat would not be considered immoral, as long as the animals were being used to the good of humans. There are many that fight against this theory and say that humans who eat meat or the products produced are acting immorally because they are not respecting the animal. This applies when grocery shopping when one knows or thinks about how the animal was done unjustly. When looking back at all the other theories utilitarianism is one that has neither a right or a wrong when coming to this topic. This theory has to do with the outcome of situations then the whole situation itself. Utilitarianism is the best possible outcome to better us as humans. With that being said when an animal is being abused or done unjustly and feels the pain and suffering when being killed it would be considered unjustly and not the utilitarianism way. But if an animal is taken care of and killed in a painless humane way and was used for the good of others this would be considered the utilitarianism way because this is the best possible outcome. One way to think about utilitarianism is thinking about if you were a farmer, how would you want to treat your animals, and how would you want others to treat your animals. Would you want to treat them right and let them be healthy and used for good or would you rather beat them and let them feel pain and be of no use to anyone? This theory is something that takes a lot of thinking between right and wrong.


Thames, B. (2018). How should one live? An introduction to ethics and moral reasoning (3rd ed.). Retrieved from (n.d.). Retrieved from Retrieved from

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