What gives us the right to use animals?

As the world wakes up to injustices against animals, and vegetarianism and veganism increases, I think we believers should be honest about the fact that the Bible clearly allows us to kill animals, YHWH preferred the animal sacrifice of Abel to the grain offering of Cain. Whilst the offering was probably preferred due to the fact that Abel offered his best, in contrast to Cain, who did not, if YHWH really disapproved of the killing, he would surely have said so.

So I think we should ask, is there a rational case for using animal products? And how to we balance our moral duties to animals with our right to kill them?

Good questions. We may not value the life of other species as much as the life of humans, but what would be our answer if God asked us how we have treated His creation?

Use of other species as food is a norm in nature, humans are not an exception in this respect. Our body indicates omnivorous feeding habits. Rather than asking is there a rational case for using animal products, maybe we should ask is there a rational case for not using animal products?

Protecting animal populations from extinction and reducing the damaging effects of growing human populations on this planet are two reasons to reduce the use of animal products. Reducing the use of meat may also have positive health effects. Otherwise, I do not see much reasons to ban the use of ethically produced animal products.

Cost-benefit analyses are an ethical tool that can be used to justify the use of animals. The results of cost-benefit analyses depend on what value we give to animals (is the life and suffering of other species equal to that of humans?) and what consequences are included in the analyses (do we include indirect long-term effects on future generations?). These tools are used in animal experimentation but I assume that conscious use of this type of ethical tools is very rare in everyday life. Just business-as-usual without too much thinking.

Not to mention it reduces pollution caused by raising animals for meat. It requires a lot of water and grain to feed them to maturity. Eating more plants conserves resources and has a lower carbon footprint.


That case is overstated.

There is a fraction of cattle in North America compared to the former population of bison. I’m sure bison drank just as much water, ate just as much grass, and farted just as much.

I find it hard to imagine any kind of environmentally conscious person justifying the slaughter of bison for environmental reasons.

The pollution comes from the use of fossil fuels and chemicals in modern feed grain production, not from cow farts. If all the animals we ate were free range grazing it would be a different story.

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