Some Food For Some Machiavellian Thought

November 20, 2011

Dirty Hands


Some people look at a juicy filet mignon and their mouth waters; they see something they want to dive into, savor, and make disappear. Others look at a filet mignon and are repulsed; they see a dead cow and perhaps cringe thinking about the rough treatment the farm animal had to suffer through.  Food has become a factor in differentiating people.  With time, the hunter-gatherer lifestyle has evolved and diverged into tons of lifestyles- vegetarianism being one of them.

Why be a vegetarian? I am not one so I can’t give you first-handed insight, but I know of the dozens of reasons, animal rights is one of them. Without doing some self-inflicted web browsing, the unsanitary and unfortunate living situations of some animals before they go to the slaughterhouse is hard to come across on a daily basis. Without much public acknowledgement, chickens are packed into small, unclean places before they are painfully slaughtered in mass amounts. The prep for slaughtering has often been found to be painful, dirty, and disease prone for the animals. For some people, being a vegan is he or she taking a stance against animal cruelty; they are eliminating themselves from the population of people who’s demands result in factory farm conditions and the tons of animals being slaughtered each day.  After doing some digging, I found that vegetarians with this belief often refer to themselves as “ethical vegans.” But ethics, as we have learned from Machiavellian, can be a complicated matter.

Switching stances and considering the Machiavellian approach, could animal cruelty be justified though? Machiavelli discusses the loss of less for the protection of more.  In other words, you have to be cruel to be kind.  So how does this “cruelty” aspect factor in when its animals and people being weighed, rather than simply people? A cow’s meat can feed a great amount of people. A steer weighs roughly 1,000 pounds and yields about 450 pounds of edible meat. With the U.S average annual per capita beef consumption averaging approximately 60 pounds, one cow translates into multiple mouths fed. Considering the Machiavellian approach, if this meat is being fed to those suffering from famine and malnourishment, could the ends justify the means? Comment your opinion.

To add to the mix, McDonalds and Target just “dropped an egg supplier this week after an activist group released disturbing video showing what it says shows animal cruelty at three of the company’s barns.” The short news story is located at http://www.cnn.com/2011/11/19/business/sparboe-farms-animal-cruelty/index.html?hpt=hp_t3.  Pulling pieces from the story, the animals were being crammed into small areas and tortured by the some of the workers “for fun.” So if hypothetically, Machiavelli convinced everyone, even “ethical vegans”, that animals need to be killed for the benefit of the people, where is the line drawn between cruel and too cruel?

While I am sure there are some vegetarians amongst the readers, perhaps because of animal right, it’s interesting to step into Machiavelli’s shoes. Lets consider his potential stance on animal cruelty, but also challenge it.  Just some food for thought!

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2 Comments on “Some Food For Some Machiavellian Thought”

  1. ajnovo Says:

    I’m a vegetarian because I don’t trust where American meat comes from – especially dorm food meat. Our meat industry is disgusting, and I no longer eat meat served at the dining halls, however, when I go home, I’m a hardcore carnivore. I can’t wait for Thanksgiving to eat turkey that my dad spends all day cooking – I trust it because my dad is super intense about food and drives 45 minutes to pick it up from a farm where it was slaughtered the day before after being raised on a free range farm and treated humanely. My dad is the same way with pork and chicken – he buys organic which is safer for human consumption.

    Where does the meat come from that the dining halls use? I don’t know, and I don’t really want to think about it – I just don’t eat it. I personally stopped eating beef several years ago because I flat out dislike it, but I’ve only been a vegetarian for the past month or two. Food Inc is a great documentary about America’s food industry, and I feel that avoiding meat is the safest way to live now that so many growth hormones are used in various animals especially chickens and turkeys.

  2. joethahn Says:

    I am an animal lover and stand firmly against animal cruelty. It is unacceptable to have the animals live in such dirty and disease prone areas for both our benefit and for the animals’ benefit. I find it very disturbing when others hurt creatures that do not have an idea of what it means to be right or wrong and those who do so definitely deserve repercussions. However I am not one hundred percent against keeping animals in confined spaces because there is an economic reason for this. When an animal is raised on a cage-free farm it is not possible to raise as many and it also takes much more money to feed them higher quality food. On the other hand raising animals in small confined spaces increases the number of animals produced and giving them food of a lower quality lowers the cost of raising them. This in turn allows the distributors to sell the meat for a lower price. Because of how the majority of animals are raised to be slaughtered many more Americans are able to eat meat on a daily basis. If all animals were raised in ideal living environments the price of meat would undoubtedly rise and meat would become more of a luxury.

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