The consideration the topic of animal rights. A variety

The demand for meat has increased significantly in recent history, leading to a rise in the
number of animals being killed and inhumanely treated in order to satisfy demand. ln line
with global population growth, which is estimated to reach 9 billion by 2050, meat
production will also be required to double in the same length of time to meet requirements
(Pluhar, 2010). Factors such as westernised diets being adopted by developing nations and
an increased ability to afford meat products have caused the global demand to rise
(Deckers, 2009). Like any other competitive market, meat has become more affordable
because of the rise in demand, which has led to increased production, pushing the prices
down as more companies are competing to sell their meat. Mass production methods to
produce meat on a larger scale make it easier to keep up with the demand, such as the
introduction of factory farming in the 1970’s (, 2017). This essay will look
at factory farming in detail and the implications that it has on the topic of whether meat-
eating is immoral. The essay will also look at whether other methods of farming, such as
free-range, make it any more moral to kill animals for human consumption, whilst
consistently taking into consideration the topic of animal rights. A variety of literature
sources both in support and opposition of vegetarianism will be considered throughout. The
essay concludes that it is immoral for humans to eat meat by highlighting those factors
considered most relevant in the argument.

Firstly, when looking at whether meat-eating is immoral, it is important to consider
the issue of how important animal rights are in comparison to those of humans. Regan
(2004) describes animal rights as simply treating animals with respect. He argues that this
has as far reaching implications such as ending the use of animals in food, entertainment
and medical research. Peter Singer’s speciesism theory (1990) complements this as he
describes how animal rights have continuously been considered as less important within
society than those of humans. “Speciesism is a prejudice or attitude of bias in favour of the
interests of members of one’s own species and against those of members of other
species” (Singer, 1990). His theory contests that in the same manner that humans may not
exploit those of another race or sex, through racism or sexism, they may not exert their
intelligence over non-humans to their advantage. Both of these theories argue that animal
rights are just as important as humans’, so humans shouldn’t take a higher moral stance
over animals by killing them to eat.

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In contrast to this, Timothy Hsiao argues that animals do not have moral rights. After
analysing an argument that agrees that meat-eating is immoral, he looks further into the
issues concerned with killing animals and what their status is compared to humans. From his
research into morality, he states, “my argument is that animals lack moral status
altogether” (Hsiao, 2015). He claims this argument because he believes that to have moral
status, one must “be capable of knowing, understanding, deliberating, choosing, and acting
for the sake of the good” (Hsiao, 2015). He concludes that animals do not have these
cognitive powers which we can see through the huge gap in intellectual and technological
achievements between humans and animals. Contributing to the gap between humans and
animals, he also states that animals don’t have duties like humans do, which is one thing
that should be present for an agent to have moral standing. “Whatever intelligence animals
do possess, our

reluctance to attribute duties to them on the basis of such intelligence is evidence that it
is not the kind of intelligence relevant to moral standing”(Hsiao, 2015). Therefore, Hsaio
argues that human consumption of meat should dismiss the interests of non-humans

However, continuing from Hsiao’s argument, which states that animals do not hold
moral rights, the question arises as to whether animal rights matter, or whether it is just
simply immoral to kill animals for our own pleasure. Singer’s argument likens speciesism to
racism or sexism. In line with this notion, if you find it is morally unjust to act negatively
towards someone of a different skin colour, then you must also regard treating animals
differently to humans and meat-eating as immoral. Justifying pain and ultimately death to
an animal is a subjective decision, whilst Hsaio (2015) does not condemn unjustified killing,
he concludes that it is within humans’ moral interests to consume meat as food, therefore
he sees no problem with the pain caused in food production. The level at which this pain is
inflicted varies greatly. Often animals endure torture and remarkably poor living conditions
as they are raised in factory farms. This extreme, yet very real, scenario must be weighed up
against the present scale of mass production currently being undertaken in order to meet
the high levels of demand. Whilst eating meat may be in the human welfare interests
according to some researchers, is it any way acceptable to put animals through such
extreme conditions?

Factory farming has become the most common way to produce meat in the world,
but the methods that it uses to raise and rear animals are totally inhumane, which is a
dominating factor as to why meat-eating is immoral. For instance, when looking at the
poultry industry as an example, “Undercover investigations into the broiler chicken industry
have repeatedly revealed that birds were suffering from dehydration, respiratory diseases,
bacterial infections, heart attacks, crippled legs, and other serious injuries” (Weeks and
Butterworth, 2004). This shows that the animals are suffering from various diseases and
injuries because of the inhumane ways that they are being treated and looked after in
factory farms. The reasons that they suffer from these injuries is because they are kept in
confined spaces and are forced, in unnatural ways, to grow as rapidly as possible; “due to
selective breeding for rapid growth, with scant attention given to leg and bone strength,
90% of broiler chickens have trouble walking” (Kestin et al., 1992). This shows that, because
factory farms’ best interests are to produce as much meat as quickly as possible, it results in
the animals being treated in inhumane and immoral ways which restricts the animals to
develop and grow as they should naturally. Therefore, it is immoral to raise animals and
force them to live in these unnatural ways just to meet the demands of human

There are little arguments as to why factory farming is good, apart from the
perspective of the farmers who can produce more in a smaller time frame. “Another
advantage of feedlots is that they fatten animals faster than grass. This can save money
and free up land for crop production.” (Sebastian, 2016). This quote is from an article
explaining why Argentinian farmers are turning to feedlots for their cattle rather than
raising them grass-fed on ranches; to gain more produce in a quicker time scale so that
overall they can profit more. However, this is only beneficial to the farmer who can profit
from the higher

yield of meat that they will be producing. This again, for the reasons previously mentioned,
is immoral because it is forcing animals to live unnaturally.

The preference to raise animals in these unnatural ways also shows that the farmers’
interest to make more profit outweighs the welfare of the animals that they are raising. This
is because the meat industry has become a competitive, consumer-led market which
forgets about the welfare and rights of animals. “Raising animals for mass food
consumption has become a competitive business, managed and owned primarily by large
corporations, which rely on animal confinement and assembly-line methods of
production” (Williams, 2008). This shows that, because animal rights have been forgotten
about due to the competitiveness of the meat industry, it is immoral. Farmers are primarily
interested in gaining as much profit as possible which goes against Singer’s speciesism
theory of treating animals with the same respect that we’d treat other humans.

One of the issues with factory farming, which contributes to the reason humans
consume so much meat, is the failure to debate the reality of what actually goes on in the
process of mass-producing meat. This means that more people are ignorant to the facts of
factory farming and consume meat regardlessly, which puts them at more of a moral risk.
Humans tend to ignore researching all of the details about how meat is produced through
the factory farming method, and it isn’t explicitly shown to us in everyday life, meaning that
a majority of people are oblivious to what actually happens. A term that can be applied to
explain this is affected ignorance. “Affected ignorance-choosing not to know what one can
and should know-is a complex phenomenon, but sometimes it simply involves refusing to
consider whether some practice in which one participates might be wrong.” (Moody Adams,
1994). As Nancy Williams argues, this is prominent within the debate of factory farming;
people refuse to know and learn about why factory farming is so bad. “Financial profit (or
greed), the convenience and ease of conforming to status quo values and practices as well
as the resonant fear that one might be participating in an immoral practice can also
generate the unwillingness to investigate” (Williams, 2008). This shows that meat-eating has
become a social norm which has led to less people feeling compulsed to investigate the
background to how the meat on their plate was produced. This means humans are almost
forgetting that the meat they eat was once a living animal by completely disregarding how it
was brought up and produced. Therefore, this leads to animals’ moral status becoming
inferior to humans which again is a reason for meat-eating being immoral.

Another major issue within the factory farming methods of meat production is the
food that is given to the animals. “Consider what the Food and Drug Administration
allows as protein in feed for poultry, pigs, and other non-cattle: cattle blood, brains, and
spinal cords of cattle not older than 30 months, restaurant plate waste, and used poultry
litter” (Pluhar, 2010). This shows that animals are getting fed waste products, as well as
“nontherapeutic doses of antibiotics in animal feed” (Pluhar, 2010) in the USA. The reason
that these waste products are fed to animals is to keep the production process as cheap as
possible. Although banned in Europe, the USA still feed antibiotics to animals to “enhance
growth rates and increase feed efficiency in food-animals (growth promotion)” (Wegener,
2003). This can have an overall negative impact because it can create “a major food animal
reservoir of resistant bacteria, with a potential for spread to humans” (Wegener, 2003).
Therefore, feeding the animals these unnatural feed and drugs is immoral because the

animals aren’t eating what they naturally should. They’re eating products which are making
them grow faster causing them not to develop in the correct way. This not only diminishes
the animals’ quality of life, but also may have harmful effects on human health.

After looking at the ways in which factory farming is deeply immoral, it is important
to look at other methods of farming, such as free-range, to see whether this makes it any
more moral for humans to eat meat. The definition of free-range farming is for animals to
be “permitted to graze or forage rather than being confined to a feedlot or enclosure”
(, 2017). Due to the facts that the animals aren’t enclosed or
confined automatically makes free-range farming appear to be more moral than factory
farming, as it allows the animals to develop and grow in a way that is perhaps more natural
to how they should. For example, “In intensive conditions many such problems will relate
specifically to the unnatural environment” (Appleby, 1996). Appleby states this after
explaining that the welfare of animals is compromised when they are challenged by a
problem that they can’t respond to appropriately, however, if they are living in a way that is
closest to their natural habitat then they will know how to respond appropriately.
Therefore, one reason that free-range farming is more moral than factory farming is
because it allows animals to engage in a more natural life than they would if they were
living in the confined factory farms that are much more common.

Another reason why free-range farming is more moral than factory farming is
because the animals would be eating more natural feed, resulting in less harmful effects for
humans in the long run. For instance, “smaller, more numerous family farms that practice
sustainable agriculture and humanely raise the animals they market for food would impose
much less of a burden on the environment. Animals raised in much less stressful conditions
would shed fewer pathogens. They would not be pumped with hormones and
nontherapeutic doses of antibiotics; their feed would not be contaminated with cattle parts
and poultry litter” (Pluhar, 2010). Consequently, this makes free-range farming more moral
because the food that the animals are eating is more natural, so it will be better for them.
As well as this, it will reduce the harmful knock-on effects that the antibiotics fed to the
animals create for humans who consume the meat.

Although free-range farming may be more morally acceptable, it is still important to
consider animals’ rights in the argument as to whether it is moral to eat meat, as the
animals are still going to experience a premature, gruesome death so that humans can eat
meat. “Farm animals raised in the least stressful and most humane circumstances would for
the most part still face grisly and frightening deaths” (Gruzalski, 2004). This backs up the
fact that even if animals live a wonderful life in their natural habitats, they’re still going to
be killed to be processed into meat. Also, in efforts to make free-range farming as cheap as
possible, animals are often killed in the same way as factory farmed animals. “Animals
raised in this manner now are generally slaughtered in the same mechanized operations as
factory-farmed animals” (Pluhar, 2010). Therefore, even if animals have a better life in free-
range farms, they are still being killed which goes against animal rights making meat-eating

Another issue with free-range farming is the question as to what free-range actually
means. Free-range often has connotations of animals roaming around freely in large fields,

living a happy life, however, the reality is often not like this. “Many turkey farms that can
legally use the free-range designation actually raise their birds in the same conditions as
industrial poultry farms. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, a turkey farm
qualifies as a free-range producer if it provides outdoor access, even if it’s only a small
corral” (Erickson, 2007). Using the example of turkey farms, Erickson explains that the
farmers can easily exploit the regulations by only doing the bare minimum to gain the free-
range label. Therefore, whilst the consumers may think that their produce is free-range,
with the animals eating more natural foods, it may be the case that the animals are in fact
living the same lives as they would if they were factory farmed, only with a tiny bit of
outdoor space to benefit from in comparison.

Overall, it can be seen that meat-eating is immoral, mainly for the reason that
animals’ rights are forgotten about during the rearing and consumption of meat. Peter
Singer’s speciesism theory states that we should not treat animals with any less respect
than we would treat humans, and we would not kill other humans to eat them, so it is
immoral to do this to animals. The use of factory farming to produce meat is highly immoral
as it raises animals in a completely unnatural and inhumane way which, again, is
disregarding animal rights and causing harm to human health. Although some people argue
that animals don’t have moral rights, the killing of animals for human consumption is still
causing unjustified pain, which is immoral in itself, only for the benefits of humans. As
reflected in the essay, a highly important issue linked to factory and free-range farming is
humans’ lack of knowledge of what actually goes on behind the scenes of meat production.
If more of the public were exposed to how the meat on their plates was actually produced
then there would definitely be an increase of people turning to a vegetarian lifestyle. There
are many more factors to research, such as environmental impacts and the effects on
human health, when looking at whether meat-eating is immoral. However, this essay has
mainly focused on the theme of animals’ rights throughout the meat production process in
showing why animals should not be forced to grow and live in awful, unnatural conditions
just for the consumption of humans.