Ethics of Eating Animals: NY Times Announces a Contest and FiTR Provides a Crib


Tomorrow’s New York Times Magazine jumps the shark and provides its readers with a moral challenge: Justify your consumption of meat with a 600-word essay. Of course, the dice are loaded, and anyone who favors meat — either actively or passively — has a long row to hoe. Arguments like “Everyone does it” or “We’ve always done it” are likely to prove unavailing. The prize for the winner of the contest: publication of the essay in The New York Times, providing the Old Gray Lady with free content (what? you think the prize should be a pair of juicy steaks?), and justifying a position that its favorite writers (e.g., Michael Pollan) have long staked out.

Here’s the text of the challenge:

RULES: This is a very specific contest. Don’t tell us why you like meat, why organic trumps local or why your food is yours to choose.

GUIDELINES: Send written entries of no more than 600 words to Entries are due by April 8; no late submissions will be considered.

THE PRIZE: The winner or winners will be published in an upcoming issue of The New York Times.

But don’t expect the Wednesday food section at the Times to go all-veggie, as this contest implies they ought to. This challenge is for you, not them.

In line with our stacked-deck theory, check out the judges: Peter Singer, author of Animal Liberation; Micahel Pollan, who thinks you should eat loads and loads of vegetables, and only a little meat; Jonathan Safran Foer, who believes you shouldn’t eat meat at all; Mark Bittman, author of How to Cook Everything Vegetarian; and Andrew Light, a George Mason philosophy professor who co-penned Animal Pragmatism: Rethinking Human-Nonhuman Relationships.

Well, here’s a challenge for The New York Times: Come up with at least one judge who is not a middle-aged white man with money.

Real men who don’t like meat

Next: Some hints as to how you might direct your essay


That small caveat aside, Fork in the Road has decided to provide you with a crib sheet of justifications for eating meat (even though we love veganism, vegetarianism, pescatarianism, anti-red-meat-ism, and any other food philosophy our readers choose to espouse).

1) God told me to do it — it says so in the Bible (Koran, Torah, Book of the Dead, Bhagavad Gita, etc.)

2) I don’t really like animals that much, certainly not enough to stop eating them.

3) The French do it.

4) Nearly all the world is vegetarian anyway, why can’t we eat meat the way we suck down the world’s fossil-fuel supplies?

5) I love meat; I have the money; and anyway I already gave up bluefin tuna.

6) Vegetables have feelings, too.

7) This contest unfairly excludes vegetarians.

8) Affording animals rights that few humans around the word enjoy is absurd.