Research Paper: Factory Farming, Morality, and Vegetarianism

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[. . .] " In fact more than at any time in human history, Henning continues, millions of humans are deficient in minerals and vitamins and are overfed; this, in turn, accounts for "…more than half of the global burden of disease" (66).

In addition to the above-mentioned depressing particulars, author Evelyn Pluhar points out that factory farming contributes a "…full 20% of the total" emissions that the U.S. contributes to greenhouse gases and hence to global climate change (457).

Problem II

Because there are apparently very few high-priority educational programs (in schools and communities) pointing to the benefits of eschewing meat and turning to healthful vegetarian meals, a new approach must evolve out of the ruins of the evil, immoral legacy of CAFOs in the United States. Indeed there are signs of that approach in that vegetarianism is becoming a bigger part of the American culture; journalist Juliana Devries reports that 43% of vegetarians in the U.S. are between the ages of 18 to 34 and up to 18% of college students are vegetarians (Devries, 2012, 40), which bodes well for the future of vegetarianism. Moreover, Devries asserts that those who turn to vegetables are helping reduce climate change; that is because the global demand for meat "…causes deforestation to make way for [cattle] grazing" (40). Also, since enormous amounts of methane gas and nitrous oxide (produced by factory farms) won't be pumped into the atmosphere when millions exchange a meat diet for non-meaty, nutritious vegetarian foods, vegetarianism may be seen (particularly by the young) as an environmental solution.

Evidence that future generations of Americans are becoming aware of the ethical dilemma produced by CAFOs -- and the moral benefits of vegetarianism -- is found in a study conducted by Harvard professors Hussar and Harris. Perhaps younger people becoming committed vegetarians can pass along their values in a kind of people-to-people cultural stratagem. Hussar researched the eating habits of 48 middle class children (ages 6-10) from the northeast U.S.; of the 20 vegetarians whose parents were not vegetarians, 16 indicated they avoided meat because of "animal welfare" (Hussar, et al., 2009, 631). Of the 16 vegetarian children whose parents are also vegetarians, 7 cited animal welfare, 3 sited religion and 5 cited family traditions as reasons for eschewing meat. And of the 16 meat-eaters, 13 liked the taste of meat and 5 eat meat for the protein (health).

Works Cited

Devries, Juliana. (2012). Making Choices: Ethics and Vegetarianism. Dissent, 59(2), 39-41.

Henning, Brian G. (2011). Standing in Livestock's 'Long Shadow': The Ethics of Eating Meat

on a Small Planet. Ethics & The Environment, 16(2), 63-77.

Hussar, Karen M., and Harris, Paul L. (2009). Children Who Choose Not to Eat Meat: A Study

Of Early Moral Decision-Making.… [END OF PREVIEW]

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