Is killing insects a sin?

human and animal : The sin of the flesh?

If our ancestors hadn't started killing animals with their Stone Age weapons at some point and consuming their flesh and the proteins that are so necessary for the evolution of the human brain, we probably wouldn't even be able to think about this question now. The question is: may or should we continue to eat animals?

Of course, the vegetarians versus meat eaters debate has existed a thousand times. Throughout the history of philosophy and religions, too, the thought has haunted again and again whether at least more highly developed animals have a soul or so much understanding and sensation that they are not only used and consumed as living machines or mere food. But now the old theme appears in a new light.

This is primarily due to a book that has just been published in German. The American writer Jonathan Safran Foer, stimulated by questions from his young son, did both practical research and political and ethical reflection on what that means: "Eating animals" - the title of his book, which has become an international bestseller. The enormous response in Germany also shows that the discussion is now expanding in society. It is no longer about personal scruples or taste decisions. Or just questions about health and nutrition, as was once the case with the BSE debate. It's about our civilization, about the fundamental relationship with nature and the future of the planet.

Big words. One thinks. But because the forests of the Amazon are still being cleared for cattle pastures and, with humanity's hunger for meat, the proportion of climate-relevant gases is growing to around 20 percent of dangerous emissions due to more and more livestock, this is a real world problem. And indeed, in some affluent regions, meat is now cheaper than vegetables. So cheap, because in Germany, for example, 98 percent of the around 560 million chickens, pigs and cattle that are slaughtered here each year come from factory farming. They are animals that have never seen the sun, never a meadow or a dung heap, who never really lived before they were killed in such unimaginable quantities on the assembly line and often in torment.

Parents of all walks of life already have the problem of having to explain to their children that fish were not born as chopsticks and pigs were not born as chops. But if our children, who have recently been taught about healthy eating in school, were shown films there that document what is inflicted on millions of chickens or poor pigs every day in mass fattening farms, they would cry out in horror and light the freezers at home .

We meat eaters get into a moral dilemma. We console ourselves, if we can afford it, with organic meat from species-appropriate husbandry. That's better than that. Even less would be more here, so nobody would have to become a hunger artist. Factory farming, subsidized with EU agricultural billions, along with its gruesome cattle transports, remains a disgrace. That is not right and the meat produced in this way, if you look at the social and ecological costs, is not even cheap.

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