From groups like PETA gaining publicity for their warped campaigning against animal agriculture, to vegan activists preaching a no-meat-on the-table dietary revolution, to environmental apologists flogging the argument that planetary survival depends on the elimination of livestock production, the anti-industry momentum so many media channels have helped generate has become overwhelming.
In contrast, there have been precious few voices raising arguments that support—much less extol—the benefits and values of meat eating. At best, industry has a couple attack dogs whose bark’s a lot worse than their bite, some low-profile scientific types whose research paints a different picture than the opposition’s rhetoric, and a number of well-credentialed but vocally challenged dietary “experts” who offer limp endorsements of the “a varied diet is a good diet” philosophy.
Oh, sure. There’s any number of celebrity chefs and restaurateurs who love to include various animal foods in their repertoire and their pricey cookbooks, but most aren’t really outspoken enough about the principle that raising livestock and producing meat products is positive and valuable and justified.
Well, now there’s a chance to change all that, a contest to sink your teeth into, so to speak, a chance to speak up and—for once—shout down the naysayers who’ve held the stage for decades with their message that animal husbandry is wrong, meat-eating is bad and the entire business of animal food production is a disaster that’s already happened.
The New York Times (actually the newspaper’s Magazine) is launching a contest to see if there is someone, anyone, out there who can offer up a coherent justification for the practice of meat-eating.
That’s right: Things have gotten so one-sided that the “Newspaper of Record” feels compelled to ask readers if there really is any reason not to board the vegetarian bandwagon.
Here’s how the newspaper’s contest announcement phrased it:
“In recent years, vegetarians—and to an even greater degree vegans, their hardcore inner circle—have dominated the discussion about the ethics of eating. From the philosopher Peter Singer, whose 1975 volume ‘Animal Liberation’ galvanized an international movement, to the novelist Jonathan Safran Foer, who wrote the 2009 best seller ‘Eating Animals,’ those who forswear meat have made the case that what we eat is a crucial ethical decision. To be just, they say, we must put down our cheeseburgers and join their ranks.