Ethics of Eating Animals: NY Times Announces a Contest and FiTR Provides a Crib

Categories: My Rant, Sietsema

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Tomorrow's New York Times Magazine jumps the shark and provides its readers with a moral challenge: Justify your consumption of meat with a 600-word essay. Of course, the dice are loaded, and anyone who favors meat -- either actively or passively -- has a long row to hoe. Arguments like "Everyone does it" or "We've always done it" are likely to prove unavailing. The prize for the winner of the contest: publication of the essay in The New York Times, providing the Old Gray Lady with free content (what? you think the prize should be a pair of juicy steaks?), and justifying a position that its favorite writers (e.g., Michael Pollan) have long staked out.

Here's the text of the challenge:

RULES: This is a very specific contest. Don't tell us why you like meat, why organic trumps local or why your food is yours to choose.

GUIDELINES: Send written entries of no more than 600 words to ethicist@nytimes.com. Entries are due by April 8; no late submissions will be considered.

THE PRIZE: The winner or winners will be published in an upcoming issue of The New York Times.

But don't expect the Wednesday food section at the Times to go all-veggie, as this contest implies they ought to. This challenge is for you, not them.

In line with our stacked-deck theory, check out the judges: Peter Singer, author of Animal Liberation; Micahel Pollan, who thinks you should eat loads and loads of vegetables, and only a little meat; Jonathan Safran Foer, who believes you shouldn't eat meat at all; Mark Bittman, author of How to Cook Everything Vegetarian; and Andrew Light, a George Mason philosophy professor who co-penned Animal Pragmatism: Rethinking Human-Nonhuman Relationships.

Well, here's a challenge for The New York Times: Come up with at least one judge who is not a middle-aged white man with money.


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Real men who don't like meat


Next: Some hints as to how you might direct your essay



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