It can’t possibly be a bad thing to live in the wild and to harvest both plants and animals for food – can it?

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Posted Dec 7 2017 by Dave Darby of

A group of us are attempting to have a debate about the sustainability of meat production, but I’ve realised that our differences are much deeper.

So, we’ve got John and Rob, who are fine with eating the flesh of animals; Annie and Andrew, not so much. Rob is a beef farmer, John is a smallholder with chickens and ducks (I think) and lots and lots of vegetables, fruit and compost. Annie and Andrew are vegans. Andrew is an engineer who is very fond of and knowledgeable about renewables. I only know Annie from a couple of articles on this blog.

I’ll invite a hunter into the debate as well, and anyone else can join in.

I want to work out the position of on first eating, then producing, meat.

So let’s go back to basics. One thing at a time? Please? Annie? Let’s have a rule – one link each in the entire thread, so choose it well.

And Andrew, this isn’t something that can be peer-reviewed. It’s philosophy. And it’s hard ethics. But philosophy is about doing, rather than quoting dead philosophers. That’s philosophology, as Robert Pirsig calls it.

So let’s do some ethics.

I put it to you that it can’t possibly be a bad thing to go into the wilds, or to live in the wilds, and to kill and eat wild mammals, birds, fish or even reptiles and insects. No natural habitat is changed. No animals are kept in captivity. No poisons are used. No waste is produced. No additional methane or carbon dioxide is emitted. Animals in the wild tend to be eaten by other animals. When herbivores get old, they’re less likely to escape predators, and that’s what usually happens. Predators pick off the old, the young and the sick first, because it’s easier. Why risk being injured by a strong, fit animal?

A few species work collectively to prevent their gang members being eaten by predators. This includes elephants, dolphins, whales, chimpanzees, gorillas, baboons, any species of dog, meerkats and humans. The rest, mostly it’s everybody for themselves and take the weakest. That’s good for their gene pool, ultimately.

But for the breeds of animals we’re talking about, barring becoming a pet, they all get eaten. So if that’s what happens in the food chain, it shouldn’t matter to them what they’re picked off by – sharp teeth or an arrow.

Is that a place where we can all agree? Natural harvesting of plant and animal food from the wild is OK.

I just want to test the lie of the land.