Some ethical vegans do not eat animals or animals products because those animals are “sentient” beings. Another ethical vegan says animals have “beliefs, desires, an emotional life, etc.” and therefore they should not be eaten.But why should either of these criteria be the dividing point between the morally acceptable to be eaten (plants) and that which is morally unacceptable to be eaten (animals)? More importantly, how can any description of nature provide a normative conclusion?
The theory of evolution explains that all creatures have descent from the first life. Therefore, on this theory, plants and bacteria are just somewhat more distant cousins to man than is an ape or an actual cousin. Where along this continuum should the ethical/unethical line be drawn? Claiming that it is at the animal/plant boundary is arbitrary. Why not save the plants and eat only bacteria?
Evolution can provide no normative conclusion on what can be eaten and what cannot be eaten. If it is cannibalism to eat your 3rd cousin (i.e. a human) is it not also cannibalism to eat your 10,000th counsin (i.e. an ape)? But then, if it is immoral and cannabilistic to eat an ape, then so it is to eat your 10^6th cousin, the bacterium.
Thus, it seems, the ethical vegan (and evolutionist) has two logical choices. 1. All things, including men, are to be eaten. 2. Nothing at all that is living is to be eaten. This results in anarchistic cannabalist warfare on the one hand, and complete starvation on the other.
I’m sure glad I’m not an ethical vegan.
Christianity, the Bible, has a fully sensible solution to this quandary. It teaches that there are species, defined “kinds” that are unrelated and distinct from one another. Also, it teaches that man has been given dominion over the land, plants, and animals. There is a clear distinction between man and all other life. We are to eat of the others as we chose. Not only does this mean we can eat (hooray!) but also that we shouldn’t eat each other (double hooray!). But, even more importantly, this means there is such a thing as “man” and “animal” and “plant.” For, with the theory of evolution kinds cannot be adequately non-arbitrarily defined as all living beings are on the same continuum of life. Under evolution your ancestors were not human and your future offspring will not be either. In fact, (to quote the great Monty Python) it is possible that looking back many generations your “mother was a hamster.”