Two Strangers, Ten Minutes, One Question

Before last Monday, Amir Idris ’17, a four-year senior from South Euclid, Ohio, and Alice Xu ’18, a three-year junior from San Francisco, Calif., had never so much as heard of each other. As their first ever conversation, Idris and Xu sat down to discuss the following question. (Okay, so really, two — related! — questions.)

Is it ethical to eat meat? Is it unethical to kill bugs?

AX: I just killed a spider this morning.

AI: Actually, that’s funny because I saw a spider this morning, and I did not kill it.

AX: I used to be really scared of ants, even if I killed it with a tissue, so I would drown it with liquid soap. So now I feel like a horrible person…

I was reading this thing online because I was researching whether lobsters feel pain or not, and it said that bugs don’t really feel pain. When you kill them, they don’t suffer, I guess because their brain isn’t complex enough to process that pain. So I don’t see what’s unethical about killing them.

AI: I don’t know if it’s about pain, per se; it’s more about experience. Personally, the reason that I eat meat is it’s sort of death for a purpose, in terms of human survival and us continuing to live.

But in terms of bugs, I don’t really gain much from killing a spider in my shower if it’s not going to bite me, and so I figured why end its short life and everything it knows simply because I’m scared of it — when a giant alien could do the same thing to me.

AX: That’s true; that’s true. But in terms of eating meat, I mean I’m not a vegetarian or vegan, but I understand the other side of the argument, how they say you could totally survive without eating meat.

People just eat it because they like it. There is a purpose to eating meat, but it’s not required for survival.

AI: That’s true. Although my thought is that the animals that you would encounter in the wild are also going to kill you. It’s not like as we domesticated animals, the animals were all nice to us, and we started killing them. It was a survival instinct.

In modern times, we’ve taken it to a point where we don’t really need to eat meat, and we don’t need to slaughter them on a mass scale. But the ethics behind it hasn’t changed much since hunter-gatherer times, in my eyes, at least.

AX: Whenever we (humans) do something, we always say it’s man-made or something, but I think in the long run, it’s still just evolution and how nature made us to be. So I guess when we do kill animals to eat them, it’s just how it is. We can’t really change that because they’re not intelligent enough to domesticate and eat us, so then we do that to them.

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