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Standing in Livestock's ‘‘Long Shadow’’: The Ethics of Eating Meat on a Small Planet

Brian Henning
Ethics and the Environment
Vol. 16, No. 2 (Fall 2011), pp. 63-93
Published by: Indiana University Press
DOI: 10.2979/ethicsenviro.16.2.63
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.2979/ethicsenviro.16.2.63
Page Count: 32
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Standing in Livestock's ‘‘Long Shadow’’: The Ethics of Eating Meat on a Small Planet
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Abstract

A primary contribution of this essay is to provide a survey of the human and environmental impacts of livestock production. We will find that the mass consumption of animals is a primary reason why humans are hungry, fat, or sick and is a leading cause of the depletion and pollution of waterways, the degradation and deforestation of the land, the extinction of species, and the warming of the planet. Recognizing these harms, this essay will consider various solutions being proposed to ““shrink”” livestock's long shadow, including proposed ““technical”” or ““market”” solutions, a transition to ““new agrarian”” methods, and a vegetarian or vegan diet. Though important and morally relevant qualitative differences exist between industrial and non-industrial methods, this essay will conclude that, given the present and projected size of the human population, the morality and sustainability of one's diet are inversely related to the proportion of animals and animal products one consumes.

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