What do atheists think of animal cruelty in the food industry? Should humans go Vegetarian?

Hey everyone. Something has been bothering me lately and need to get it off my chest and read some advice from you guys.

Why here?
We, as a group although having only one distinct similarity - lack of belief in a god, do tend to agree on other matters, specifically matters on belief and morality. When I read many posts here, forming my own opinion of it, that come up and finding out I ham head nodding in agreement with 90% percent of people below.

I have a good, stable and prosperous job that I had for years and that could last to retirement (I’m currently 28 years old) in the catering/cooking industry working as a chef. I love my work. I know what to do.

The Dilemma:
As seen in the title, I have a moral dilemma for the past year. Over the last year, I am slowly releasing that factory farming and the consumption of meat in its entirety is morally wrong… (but still on the fence - not a solidified conviction just yet).

So participating in the industry is very bad, should i quit my job and go on the unemployment benefit, start a new career in my late 30’s?

They were barriers to this conclusion I have drawn but still no enough I don’t think:

  1. When there are moral and human practices done before and after slaughter. For example, in these building they usually would have bending corridor as to not stress out the animal and show what is up ahead. Some places would also have light bulbs that would have a calming effect and guide them. And nearly 80% of these places are doing their slaughter according to the guidelines, e.g. Either by stunning or one clean cut.

  2. Then I would say to myself “if they had a a) good and b) long upbringing either in the wild or a very spacious farm” would be acceptable. But that raises questions on lamb dishes like two of my favourite Saffron Braised Lamb Shanks or a nice and hearty Lamb and Barley Stew.

  3. Then I would say “it is natural as our ancestors in history would not have survived if they didn’t hunt and consume meat” and “that everything in nature feeds on something and that the majority of animals either a) require meat or b) desire it or c) both”. And yes I you could name animals that have solely a plant based diet like Slots, Koala’s, Giraffe etc. But we all know that that would be an appeal to nature fallacy.

I would really appreciate any thoughts on this. What is your opinion? Can I eat meat but only if I know it was done humanly? If you are a not a vegetarian and see the mass production of meat, how did you reconcile one with the other?

Some extra questions weighing on my mind:

Are Christopher Hitchens and/or Scott Clifton a vegetarian? What are their views on this. It’s hard to find a solid one but I did find this quote to indicate some leaning towards it being a yes for Hitchens. I know we shouldn’t look up to these figures s any prophet but I do tend look up their views on topics from time to time when I agreed and understood their thought patterns before. Like SJW movement back in the day… I would have liked to hear Hitchens view on it.

Thanks in advance for your thoughts on this.

This is a controversial subject that requires a lot of thought and soul-searching.

Around the year 2001 the actress Michelle Pfeiffer commissioned a hunting and fishing lodge up in British Columbia, it is more than world-class. It is named “Fawn Bluff”, currently on the market for sale. https://fawnbluff.com/ $28 million was the last price offered.

Construction was completed in 2008. But in 2012 Michelle turned vegan, and abandoned hunting and fishing, for obvious reasons. She walked away, but this is very important, she had the luxury of being able to.

And that is the first question one should consider, do you have the resources to change direction in your life without undue penalty?

I do not have issue with the vegan movement. But call me weird, I also witness the millions of children dying each year from starvation. IMO we (as humanity) need to fix this problem before we can address how we can convert to a more moral diet.

And yes, I have seen “farms” that raise beef, and turkey “farms”. Not a nice place to be. A free-range turkey farm is less productive than this …disgusting environment.

I don’t give it much thought. I grew up around animals and have/had a few myself. I give them a good, comfortable, well fed life - and can take their life.

Same with hunting and fishing. I don’t “catch and release” - for me that’s cruel (their mouth)…if I catch I eat it. Same with hunting - not for sport, for food.

My boys are pretty much natural vegetarians. The oldest doesn’t like meat - the others don’t prefer it. I’ve found I’ve naturally lessened meat in my diet over the years. But I still like and enjoy animal products, eggs, milk products, etc.

What a wonderful industry. There are loads of work for creative chefs to cook “meat” free. I know that my personal cooking has gotten more creative and diverse with less meat.

Welcome, hope you enjoy your stay.

An atheist is simply a person who does not believe in gods. There is no such thing as an atheist position on any other topic

I have always been an omnivore and have no plans to change any time soon.

I do not allow others to tell me what to believe or what to do. I do not have the arrogance to presume to tell others what to do. Nor do I care , as long as they obey the law.

Have zero interest in what some vapid celebrity says, does or thinks.

This not a moral issue for me, so ‘should’ is not a consideration…

OF course I’ve read that animals are a very inefficient way to produce protein and that cattle actually harm the environment. I can’t prove either of those claims.

The time may come where human beings may no longer be able to raise animals for food. Can’t see that happening in what’s left of my life time.


***Over the last 20+ years, chicken has become the cheap meat here. Then pigs, beef and lamb. I usually buy skinless chicken fillets @ $9.50 a kg. Will also buy minced meat (hamburger) and sausages. I cannot afford to buy any other meat on a regular basis. I usually eat meat once day, max of 250gm (1/2 pound uncooked weight)

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I tend to agree with you to an extent. I think this is a logical conclusion any rational thinker must come to. I am not opposed to eating meat. It is as natural as breathing for the human species. How we raise meat and the damage it does to the planet are certainly concerns. Concern enough for me to stop eating meat… sorry… I am a fucking hypocrite and have no excuse for myself. You win every argument, hands down, and I do not have a leg to stand on. I am still not giving up my steak. If I have a choice between a free range steak or chicken and one bread in captivity, I promise to choose the later. That is about the best you are going to get from me.

To be honest, I do not eat that much meat. The last time I had a steak was over 2 months ago. I don’t recall my last hamburger. I did chop up a hot dog for a burrito dish last week. I found some delicious spicy hotdogs. The pack is still in the fridge. I think I have a few chicken breasts in the freezer as well. Who knows when they will come out?

I made some refried beans last week and when I get home I slop some of that goo on a tortilla, add a bit of cheese, and wa-la, instant dinner with no fuss and no muss. I live like a cave man. I admit it.

I just don’t fix dinners every night. A jar of peanut butter, a spoon and a side of blueberries will make a fine dinner. That is what I had last night while typing on the computer. Oh… I also have iced tea always at the ready.

I just eat whatever is handy, and easy, for the most part. Now the funny part to all of this is that I am a good cook. I can certainly follow a recipe. I know how to bake a turkey or Cornish game hens. I can bake pies, breads and cookies. I make my own spaghetti sauce and a lot more. Just not every day or all the time.

So I guess not eating much meat is not a chore for me. Nevertheless, when it comes to eating meat, I am an amoral piece of shit and fully admit it. I’m going to have a steak if I want one and that is the end of that.

You can give up eating meat, if you feel strongly about it. However I think it would be unwise to give up a good career. I was a vegetarian for a while, and things are a lot easier now, and allow for more variety, but ultimately I enjoy meat.

In May when I lose my job, I will make more of an effort to cut down on the amount of meat in my diet.

All morals are subjective of course, so the best I can do is suggest you give it some thought and decide what you’re content to do. I don’t think there’s any moral justification for eating meat, but that doesn’t mean I think anyone should be stopped from doing so.

One of my favourite “go to” :smiling_face_with_three_hearts:

I have the same dilemma.
In the past few months I’ve seen a lot of content on this topic and it feels like humans are just ruining nature, ruining the way animals should be, everything about it feels wrong.
And yet it’s also completely natural for omnivores like us to eat meat.
Usually my moral compass would direct me towards the well being of human beings, and of course avoiding unnecessary harm, but there’s something about this disregardful treatment of animals that makes me shiver.
I’m almost 95% vegetarian already, but on occasion I do eat meat.

My resolve breaks when I see a steak in supermarket, or smell bacon frying.

Im atheist but I go with the Buddhist idea to
be kind to animals by not eating them.

I do eat some sudtainable / farmed “seafood”.

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Humans can participate on a large scale - polluting. Mistreating anything upsets me. Ruining “nature” - we also care and preserve nature. We interact with nature and have an ability to understand the consequences of our interactions- animals don’t. Beavers don’t care what they dam up or how it effects the ecology …mice don’t care is they over populate and spread disease. But usually there is a counterbalance of sorts and with our species, it seems we are each other’s “counter balance”…but anyway - back to,

…animals should be.

Do you mean our species domesticating our food? Chickens, goats, sheep, cattle… so, as a species we breed our food source (instead of hunting). Ants will keep some other insects. BTW insects are fucking brutal to each other. Parasites, paralyzed (so their developing offspring can grow inside) … mammals are nothing!!! At least a wolf or lion goes for the throat and they die somewhat fast while others are already ripping at their soft fleshy guts.

Nature is a cruel bitch. Seriously.

And what is the difference between farmer “seafood”, and veal?

Both are raised by men, for the purpose of being killed and eaten. Is it because you can’t see the eyes of the seafood, you can’t feel empathy for a living creature, despite the fact it doesn’t have big brown eyes like a calf?

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I am a meat eater but a part of me thinks it is wrong to eat animals …but here is my dilemma…

I have so many food allergies it’s not funny. The list includes entire families of fresh food types and even processed foods. boxed goods, bottled juices and canned goods.

I have many friends who are vegan or vegetarian who were trying to get me off meat and claiming whatever science they could to me. I would shut them up real quick with my allergy list.

Taking away my meat would lower my menu list and make eating a hassle and a displeasure.

The government is holding back on releasing the seeds that would grow fresh foods that would be good for people with food allergies. I don’t know why.

So for now please don’t take away my meat and potatos lol but I do however believe that we should not be killing animals to eat them.

Human beings act in exactly the way one would expect animals to behave, but worse; we insist on shitting in our own nest.

We are no more than sentient animals with delusions of grandeur.

I’m afraid that’s a moral value which I do not entirely share.

Don’t much care for battery chickens, but still eat cage eggs and chickens***

Also don’t like live animal export to the Middle East where they are treated cruelly. However, it’s the same with businesses everywhere; profit almost always trumps morality.

I suspect the industrial scale slaughter of animals is more humane than if we were still hunters and gatherers.

My basics position: We are omnivores and predators at the top of the food chain. Imo there is nothing innately immoral about the killing and eating of animals.

I have no time for organisations such as PETA who I see as precious wankers.

I suspect we may need to agree to differ. :innocent:

*** here the term ‘free range’ usually has a far different meaning to producers than mine

Evolved apes…


Indeed. The two terms are not mutually exclusive imo

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I eat meat every day, mostly turkey and chicken, and occasionally have beef. I have no problem with where our meat comes from, we have been meat eaters through out all our history. Don’t know why we should stop now.
Don’t quit your day job.

Though I broadly agree, I can think of a few sound reasons.

  1. The resources required to rear meat are greater than for a vegetarian diet, thus wasteful of finite resources.
  2. In the post industrialised era we now have a choice we didn’t throughout most of human history, so we can make a moral decision previously unavailable to our ancestors.
  3. The by products of rearing meat, cows in particular adds a significant amount of methane to the earth’s atmosphere, accelerating climate change.

Just off the top of my head…


Genetically we are omnivores, we require meat in our diet. If not, without supplements, that deficiency can harm our bodies.

From: https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/eat-well/vegetarian-and-vegan-diets-q-and-a/

With good planning and an understanding of what makes up a healthy, balanced vegetarian and vegan diet, you can get all the nutrients your body needs to be healthy without the need for supplements.

However, if your diet isn’t planned properly, you could miss out on essential nutrients. Vegetarians need to make sure they get enough iron and vitamin B12, and vegans enough calcium, iron and vitamin B12. Women are thought to be at particular risk of iron deficiency, including those on a vegetarian or vegan diet.

Some groups are advised to take vitamin supplements, regardless of whether they follow a vegetarian or vegan diet.

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Yes, this is one of the reasons I eat meat, it’s easier to get a balanced diet. Of course I’ll have more time and less money in a few months, so it seems the perfect time to reduce the amount of meat in my diet.

Now KFC doesn’t count right?