Is Eating Meat a Sin? Of Course Not.
Is it a sin to eat meat?
Of course not...
Is what I used to believe... I was sure of that.
But now that I have studied this just about every day for the past decade, I can say definitively one way or the other.
So let's find out...
Is Eating Meat a Sin?
To answer the question "Is Eating Meat a Sin?", we only have to ask some very simple questions:
1) Is animal cruelty a sin?
2) Do factory farms involve animal cruelty?
3) Is most meat today factory farmed?
If you answered "yes" to questions 1 and 2 above, then it logically follows that eating factory farmed meat is a sin.
Answering "yes" to question 1 is obviously true since just every Christian organization agrees that animal cruelty is a sin.
Answering "yes" to question 2 is obviously true once you learn about factory farms and you learn what goes on in every day factory farm conditions.
If you are not sure what goes on in factory farms, watch this quick 10 minute video: Farm to Fridge
Answering "yes" to question 3 is also true once you do a little bit of research. For example, FarmForward.com using USDA statistics shows that 99% of the animals we eat go through factory farms.
Since all three of these are true, it logically follows that eating factory farmed meat is a sin. We could even say that, in general, eating meat is a sin most of the time based on these three premises alone.
We can then go even deeper and determine if eating meat is wrong in general by answering more questions:
4) Is it wrong to cause unnecessary suffering to animals?
5) Is eating meat necessary for survival?
6) Does meat production cause unnecessary suffering?
Most people will answer "yes" to question 4. The Catholic Catechism for example says that "It is contrary to human dignity to cause animals to suffer or die needlessly"
Question 5 is a simple matter of fact after researching it. Not only is meat not necessary for survival, but it is possible to thrive and actually live longer without meat. It is also possible to be even stronger. For example, check out these athletes who eat no meat and yet are some of the best in the world at what they do.
What is truly crazy is that these athletes are not just vegetarian; they are vegan. In other words, the argument is only strengthened considering that we are only discussing eating animals and those athletes eat no eggs or dairy on top of it and are still some of the best in the world at what they do.
The Beyond Beast burger I just ate had more protein and iron than beef and more omegas than salmon; yet it contained no meat. With items like the Impossible Burger, it has become easier and easier to eat out or at home without eating meat.
Question 6 is a little harder to answer. If we are talking about factory farms, there is no question that meat production causes massive suffering to the animals. However, the question is whether animals on smaller farms still suffer.
What we know is that animals in non-factory farms still suffer. For example, animals still get their testicles cut off without any anesthesia and animals in non-factory farms still must go through the slaughterhouse which is not a pretty site.
This could quite arguably be considered unnecessary suffering.
The Golden Rule
Regardless of what we answered on the above questions, it is even more important for us to be consistent. There is no better consistency principle in the world than the golden rule.
The golden rule is quite simply the best and most easily applied ethical principle to live by.
Treat others how you would want to be treated if you were them.
The great thing about it is that almost everyone in the world believes in it (whether they actually follow it or not).
Our answers to the following questions will determine if we are consistent:
7) If you happened to be born with black skin in the 18th century, would you want to be a slave?
8) If you happened to be born as a farm animal in the 21st century, would you want to go through a factory farm?
9) Do you believe that we should treat others how we would want to be treated if God gave us their lives instead of our lives?
Questions 7, 8, and 9 all revolve around the golden rule of treating others how we would want to be treated if we were them. These questions are a simple consistency principle.
If we would do something to someone else, are we willing that the same thing be done to us if we were in their position?
If we answered "yes" to questions 7, 8, and 9, then we are being consistent.
If we answered "no" to any of these three questions, then we are likely either telling a fib or we need to review the golden rule of treating others how we would want to be treated if we were them.
So... Is Eating Meat a Sin?
What Have We Learned?
Is eating meat a sin? Is eating meat wrong? I used to belief that eating meat was not a sin.
If you would have asked me a few years ago if eating meat was a sin, I would have said "of course not".
Now if you ask me if eating meat is a sin in most cases, I don't just think I know the answer, I know for a fact that I know the answer...
Based on the fact that most of our meat comes from factory farms (which self-evidently involve animal cruelty), and because animal cruelty is a sin, I don't just think eating meat is a sin in most cases, I know it is a sin in most cases.
As far as whether eating non-factory farmed meat is a sin, that is a tougher question.
I would not personally feel comfortable with saying someone who buys responsibly raised meat is sinning.
What I would feel comfortable saying is that what they are doing will not stand the test of time and it is almost certainly going to seen as immoral by future generations...
How do I know this?
I just reference the consistency principles above.
I think the questions above do a sufficient job at proving that eating factory farmed meat is not only wrong; eating factory farmed meat is a sin. There is no question about that.
Now... Is eating non-factory farmed meat a sin? I would say no for today but some future time from now it will be seen as a sin. Especially as it becomes easier and easier to not have to eat meat.
While it might not be a sin today, eating non-factory farmed meat might still be unethical if you believe it is wrong to cause unnecessary suffering to animals.
Do you agree or disagree? Do you have a way to get around the logic above? If so, I would love to hear it.
Please tell me in the comments below.
I have looked far and wide for legitimate reasons to eat meat, and besides eating meat to survive, I have yet to hear a compelling answer.
To clarify, I have only ever heard two arguments that hold any validity but are not satisfactory answers.
1) Meat without a brain: I eat scallops which means technically I am a meat eater. This is an exception case and we cannot take an exception and act like it is the rule. My argument only applies to those animals that God made capable of suffering. Since scallops have no brain, there is no such thing as the golden rule with a scallop so although they are "meat", there is no moral dilemma with them. Eating a pig and eating a scallop is not morally equivalent. This same exception case applies to clean (cultured) meat which I sold my show winning sports car to charity to help bring about quicker.
2) Failing to distinguish between acts/omissions and direct/indirect actions gets us in trouble. Someone will inevitably say that part of my argument is invalid because we as humans accidentally run over smaller animals in crop harvesting and therefore all of us break the golden rule so why bother. Besides the false argument that if you cannot prevent all suffering that you should not prevent any suffering, and besides the fact that the argument was debunked the very same day it came out, the argument fails to take into account acts vs. omissions and direct vs. indirect actions. For example, person A fails to donate $2000 to a charity that works to help feed children in Africa thereby resulting in 10 children dying from malnutrition. Person B flies over to Africa and slits the throats of 10 children in Africa. Person B rightly goes to jail for the rest of their life. Person A has no jail time. Although the end result is roughly the same, one is an indirect omission and one is a direct action. You cannot compare the two as if they are morally equivalent (unless you are a strict Utilitarian in which case the argument changes but most people are not strict Utilitarians).
If you have a good argument, let me know!