We recently blogged the Food & Wine story on the role of grass-fed, sustainable meat in the conversion of some vegetarians into (cautious) carnivores.

Skeptical true-believers have risen to the challenge. In a highly cogent rant over at On Human-Nonhuman Relations, Roger Yates writes about the conversion of Mollie Katzen (of The Moosewood Cookbook):

So—what’s missing here? ANIMAL RIGHTS is missing. There’s a little hint of it when Katzen states: ‘For people who are against eating meat because it’s wrong or offensive to eat animals, even the cleanest grass-fed beef won’t be good enough.’ Katzen, in this, is right—but I wonder if she knows the reason why she’s right? Just in case she’s an avid reader of this blog, I’ll let her in on the big secret: those who think it’s wrong are likely to believe that nonhuman animals are rightholders and eating their dead bodies is a rights violation. Cleanliness of the meat—whatever that means anyway—is not the issue.

So, not surprisingly, ethical (or “ethical”) meat hasn’t ended the debate; it has complicated it.

An equally or even more radical view (that predates the Food & Wine article) comes from Gary L. Francione of the pro-veg blog Animal Rights: The Abolitionist Approach. He argues that convincing nonvegans to move toward “humane” meat is actually a step in the wrong direction, because you’ve implied that they can satisfy their moral obligations without completely ceasing the consumption of animal-derived products.

[Y]ou can be absolutely certain that if you tell such a person that they do not have to go vegan to satisfy their moral obligations to animals, she won’t. If you tell people in this group that it’s acceptable to eat cage-free eggs, or ‘happy’ meat, or that it’s morally acceptable for them to be ‘conscientious omnivores,’ that is precisely what they will do and all that they will do.

All or nothing; absolute moral purity or total dirty stinking sin. Why bother taking steps toward goodness when only holy perfection is acceptable?

Utopian, sure. Fanatic, perhaps. But don’t most of us have some issues that we brook no compromise on? Capital punishment? Abortion? Torture? War? Ford versus Chevy?

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