The Next Big Social Justice Issue

I tend to think of the recent history of society in terms of a series of social justice conflicts.

From justice for non-established religious groups; the fight against slavery; women’s emancipation; racial equality; gender equality; to gay rights.

I wonder what’s next in the list. What cause will I find myself on the conservative old-fart side of, while my son’s generation struggles to see how we can be so blind?

I think it is likely to be Vegetarianism.

I’m a meatophile. But I recognize that the moral case for meat-eating is pretty poor. The justifications I can find seem mostly of the same character as the justifications against the social justice issues of the past: appeals to the natural order, to what is ‘healthy’, to the way it has always been. I recognize that any moral argument I can mount is a post-hoc rationalisation of my love of meat.

For the sake of my gastronomic pleasure, I hope I’m wrong, but I’m meeting an increasing number of non-fanatical moral vegetarians these days. By that I mean that zealous animal rights folks seem to have waned in favour of folks who just calmly take the moral high ground. I suspect that’s probably a good sign of what’s to come.

So I’m going to keep my eyes on the Quakers. If they go vegie, then the writing is definitely on the wall.

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8 Comments

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8 responses to “The Next Big Social Justice Issue

  1. That was a fun read — I love self-doubt.
    I am a former Vegetarian — but I do not love meat. I just think the vegetarian thing is mistaken since taking a life will always have an arbitrary side. Cruelty, is another issue. But I could be wrong — not sure how I’d ever find out. But the thought experiment of imagining my great grandkids looking back at my blindness is fascinating. Thanx

  2. Damn, forgot to follow. Ian, could you write to the WordPress folks and ask them to put a “subscribe” button you can hit AFTER you post, just as blogger has. It seems like it would be so simple.

  3. As a secondary school teacher and 20+ year vegetarian, unfortunately I don’t see much evidence that there is much of a shift in how young people see animals. On the other hand, there seem to be fewer died-in-the wool, would-never-touch-a-lentil carnivores around, so you never know.

    I think vegetarianism is fairly popular among Quakers already, maybe they’re just ahead of the curve?

  4. Ian

    Interesting, thanks Paul. We’ll have to see. I haven’t got any real empirical data, just basing it on a couple of people really. Are you a moral vegetarian? What moral arguments would you make for it? (I’m not asking so I can come back at them, just to press the original point).

    Sabio – if nothing else it helps to put oneself in the position of the ‘other side’ once in a while. I’ve pinged the wordpress suggestions box. Aren’t you running wordpress too?

  5. Ian – I’d say I used to be a strong moral vegetarian and I had a firm belief that animal lives had an equal value and status to human lives. I’m not nearly as strong on it these days (I used to be vegan, go to animal rights demos, boycott certain companies etc), and I’d say today it’s a bit of a mix of moral reasons and personal preference.

    I’m not at all preachy about it these days, but I still believe that animals (some of them anyway) are sentient and capable of experiencing suffering. If that belief is correct, then eating it seems hard to find a moral justification for eating meat when there are plenty of other alternatives.

  6. Ian

    Thanks, Paul. The particular friends I’m thinking of (who don’t come here, so I’m going to speak for them), don’t seem to suggest animals have equal value and status, more that they have sufficient value and status to make it immoral. If that distinction makes sense. And within there a continuum. So one in particular said “anything with a nervous system”. All interesting stuff, I appreciate the follow-up.

  7. @ Ian, Yeah, I have WordPress but I figured you would be far more persuasive on the issue.

  8. Jackson

    Thought I’d throw a couple ideas into the pot.

    Polygamy in the near future. More remotely, if ever, GSA(genetic sexual attraction), which I just read about yesterday.

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