Recently, the New York Times announced an essay contest inviting readers to advance in 600 words or less their best arguments in support of meat-eating. In its contest promo, the Times cites a perceived failure of meat eaters to adequately engage the moral question raised by animal liberationist Peter Singer and other advocates of veganism. As the Times’ editor states,
[T]hose who love meat have had surprisingly little to say. They say, of course, that, well, they love meat or that meat is deeply ingrained in our habit or culture or cuisine or that it’s nutritious or that it’s just part of the natural order. Some of the more conscientious carnivores have devoted themselves to enhancing the lives of livestock, by improving what those animals eat, how they live and how they are killed. But few have tried to answer the fundamental ethical issue: Whether it is right to eat animals in the first place, at least when human survival is not at stake.
Given the fact that strict (ethically-motivated) vegetarians comprise a minute segment of our nation’s population — and this despite several decades of intense advocacy by Singer et al. — it would seem the Times‘ readers would be within their rights simply to demand a more compelling argument for the vegetarian option. Indeed, many, if not most, may be tempted altogether to just turn a deaf ear to the Times’ invitation.
For those of you who appreciate the value in thinking deeply and engaging others on questions of social ethics, I commend to you the challenge laid down by the Times. Whether or not your essay will ultimately be judged as print-worthy by the paper’s select panel of judges that includes Singer himself, the exercise may still be highly profitable. You’ll need to work fast as the submission deadline is April 8th.
For more information, see the following link: