The Heart Of Vegetarianism

Looking back at the arguments in Peter Singer’s groundbreaking 1975 book, Animal Liberation, Thomas Rodham Wells realizes he became a convert to vegetarianism more through his heart than his mind:

What won me over was not the rigour or deftness of Singer’s intellectual moves, but a much more basic reshaping of my moral sentiments. I don’t feel a triumph of rationality over desire. I didn’t conclude that I should stop eating meat because that would make the world a better place. Rather, I found my tastes themselves changed by the recognition of the obvious sentience of non-human animals, their possession of personalities, emotional states, and perhaps even firm opinions on some issues (favourite kinds of grass, for example). The repugnance I have come to feel about eating them is an extension of what I would feel about eating my pet cat rather than the product of some calculation of quanta of suffering. My vegetarianism is built up from my moral sentiments, a reluctance to be implicated in the unnecessary suffering of sentient creatures that might be characterised as a kind of moral disgust for cruelty. Unlike the official highly theoretical justification for vegetarianism offered by Singer, mine is visceral, muddled and inconsistent, as I think much of real moral life must be.

Read previous Dish threads on vegetarianism here and here.