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Should meat become illegal?

Dan Sampson, Esq. - 2/21/2013

Our society is proud to treat animals as friends. Home animals are now treated just like others in need of protection be they children, the sick, the old. It has become big business to provide medication for dogs and to get rid of their bugs at home so that animals can be kept inside the house.

We've create a slew of laws to protect our animals, with many jurisdictions allowing for felony charges to be pressed against people guilty of cruelty to animals. Some, however, have begun to argue that eating meat should be a crime. Killing animals, they say, is by definition cruelty to them.

Others argue that this is the cycle of life. Nearly all animals, birds and fish eat meat. This is nature, for better or for worse. Animals should not be wasted, but they certainly should remain on our menu. Our bodies are, in fact, built to eat meat. This isn't a new development based on the unique power that human beings developed in the last few centuries. It is the process of millions of years of evolution, and the denial of meat is essentially the denial of the way our bodies have evolved since prehistoric times.

PETA, the People for Ethical Treatment of Animals, has often engaged in attention-grabbing displays such as throwing blood on people or demonstrating in the nude. While this gets them attention, their cause is still a very marginal one, supported by only a tiny percentage of the population who believes that eating animals is a crime. Even among the vegetarians, most people do it for their perceived health reasons, not because they are morally opposed to eating animals.

That said, there are millions of animals around the world who are truly tortured. We've all heard of dog fights, cock fights, animal beatings. PETA and other animal rights organizations have made a lot more progress on that front, and the vast majority of Americans agree with them on these issues.

We are a compassionate nation. As humans we know that we are just only one category of living beings who cannot claim unlimited rights to exploit all the rest and the resources available in this planet at our whim. But eating animals doesn't make us exploiters different from other animals. It makes us just like all the other living beings. Yes, we need to defend animals. But no, it should not be a crime to do what nearly every other living being also does.

PETA is merely embarrassing itself and the cause of animal rights by demanding unreasonable things.

Dan Sampson is an attorney focusing on criminal defense.

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