Ethics of animals for consumption discussion planned

By Helena Rodriguez, PNT Staff Writer

Many people don’t view dragging a fish out of a lake with a hook as a bad thing. When it comes to the consumption of animals, it’s generally red meat eaters who come under fire.

This is according to Darron Smith, a professor of agriculture at Eastern New Mexico University, who will lead what he hopes will be a thought-provoking lecture tonight titled “Ethics of Animals Used for Human Consumption.” The lecture is being held in conjunction with the ongoing Smithsonian exhibit on display at Golden Library through April and keeps with the exhibit’s theme, “Key Ingredients: America By Food.”

“My talk will not be based on telling people something is right or wrong. I want to generate a philosophical thought process on why someone may believe it is right or wrong,” Smith said. “I’m an animal scientist, so obviously I eat meat, but that’s by personal choice.”

Smith noted that people must respect the spiritual beliefs of those who may belief that the consumption of certain animals is ethically wrong. With that said, he did acknowledge that some animals get a worse rap than others. “Some people who chose not to eat red meat will gladly eat fish, is that right or wrong? Should we all be vegetarians?” he asked.

During his lecture, Smith said he will focus on a so-called “outrage factor.”

He said an example of an outrage factor is cigarette smoking. “We know cigarette smoking kills 250,000 people a year, but if all of these 250,000 people died at the same time, in the same city, it would be banned tomorrow. Age is also an outrage factor. If I punched a 500-pound man, people may not think much of it. But if I punch a 5-year-old boy, people would.”

He explained that the outrage factor is a way of looking at what causes people’s emotional responses. “The outrage factor was actually developed in the business world as a way of gauging people’s responses to different events. But there’s also a more deep reason in how we respond to things.”

Smith said he will also talk about nutrients of certain animals and will also give a historical overview. “Historically, we have moved from everyone raising animals themselves, to where we now go to Wal-Mart or Russell’s and buy Styrofoam containers of meat.”

Smith agreed that people have become increasing conscious of the ethical debates surrounding animal use for human consumption because of movies such as “Fast Food Nation” and because of the well-funded organization, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) group.