The Ethics of Eating Meat Contest: The NYT Announces the Winning Essay

updated Jun 5, 2019
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You may remember a couple months ago that The New York Times launched a contest to find the most rational ethical defense for eating meat . The contest was a huge success. 3,000 people submitted essays, six were chosen as finalists, and we now have a winner.

The winning essay was written by Jay Bost, “a farmworker, plant geek, agroecologist and foodie for the past 20 years.” He is a vegetarian just returned to eating meat, and the gist of his argument is this:

Eating meat raised in specific circumstances is ethical; eating meat raised in other circumstances is unethical. Just as eating vegetables, tofu or grain raised in certain circumstances is ethical and those produced in other ways is unethical. What are these “right” and “wrong” ways of producing both meat and plant foods? For me, they are most succinctly summed up in Aldo Leopold’s land ethic: “A thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability and beauty of the biotic community. It is wrong when it tends otherwise.”

A few common themes among the semifinalist and finalist entries included a widespread agreement that factory farming is “ethically indefensible,” and though there were major disagreements in the approaches people took, almost everyone agreed on one thing: food choices are moral choices.

Tell us your thoughts on the winning essay and this question in general!

Related: NYT Launches Contest To Find the Best Ethical Reason To Eat Meat