I do not eat animal flesh because I see the clear case that doing so comes at the cost of killing another being that was definitely alive. The other day I was offered a breakfast sandwich that had both egg and turkey bacon on it. I decided to throw away the turkey and only eat the egg (and bread). Also, to add more background to the situation this was a sandwich that would have been eaten by someone else (turkey in all) if I declined. This then led me to think that maybe my actions of throwing away the turkey is actually more morally wrong than eating the turkey. So, my question is if throwing away meat is morally correct for vegetarians (or vegan) who base their diet on the ethical stance of not doing harm to animals.

The answer will depend on what your reasons are for not eating meat. For instance, I do not believe that eating meat is wrong because killing animals is wrong. Rather, I believe it is wrong to cause suffering to those animals we have good reason to believe can feel pain and suffer (unless we are justified in believing that the suffering will relieve more suffering, as is the case with some animal experimentation but is almost never the case with eating animals). So, I try to do what I can to avoid supporting factory farming, which is a manifest case of causing unnecessary suffering. I am not as good as I should be about this commitment. For instance, if I am in a situation where I have to choose between eating factory-farmed meat and not eating (or having to go to great lengths to eat), I tend to eat the meat. If I am served meat and the only way to avoid eating it is to throw it away, I will eat the meat (otherwise, one might even think the animal's pain was even more useless than it otherwise would be?). So, if you could have gotten another sandwich and someone else would have eaten the turkey sandwich, then you would have been more consistent to take a non-meat option.

The more general problem is that our individual actions in these cases (and across all our food-eating choices) are unlikely to have much of an impact on the problem of factory farming. It will take collective action to get our society's practices to change. And the best way to make that happen will involve convincing others to stop eating factory-farmed meat. Here, I wish I did more than I do.

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