On the supposed moral superiority of killing an animal yourself

It seems Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg has taken on a personal challenge of eating mostly vegetarian and only meat from animals he personally kills.[1] This is supposed to be an improvement. As Zuckerberg puts it,

I started thinking about this last year when I had a pig roast at my house. A bunch of people told me that even though they loved eating pork, they really didn’t want to think about the fact that the pig used to be alive. That just seemed irresponsible to me. I don’t have an issue with anything people choose to eat, but I do think they should take responsibility and be thankful for what they eat rather than trying to ignore where it came from.[2]

So instead of immunizing himself from the act of killing by leaving it to the unseen people who work in slaughterhouses, Zuckerberg walks up to a living, breathing creature and, as a Silicon Valley chef recounts, “He cut the throat of the goat with a knife, which is the most kind way to do it.”[3]

Setting aside the dubious claim to know which way of killing is “most kind,” given that no one who has been killed in this way has lived to offer a comparison to other methods of being killed, Zuckerberg is now a direct killer. This draws qualified praise from Erik Marcus, publisher of Vegan.com:

But for the people who don’t consider [going vegan] a workable choice, it’s still a huge deal to take the sort of action that Zuckerberg is doing. Plenty of people who would view veganism as hopelessly extreme could easily contemplate reducing their meat consumption to a couple meals a week.[4]

I’ll agree: killing is a big deal. Whether you do it yourself or leave it to unseen others. But it is still killing. And although more directly expressed, it is still an assertion of power over the right of another being to exist. And I see nothing praiseworthy about it.

  1. [1]Patricia Sellers, “Mark Zuckerberg’s new challenge: Eating only what he kills (and yes, we do mean literally…),” CNNMoney, May 26, 2011, http://postcards.blogs.fortune.cnn.com/2011/05/26/mark-zuckerbergs-new-challenge-eating-only-what-he-kills/
  2. [2]Sellers, “Mark Zuckerberg’s new challenge.”
  3. [3]Sellers, “Mark Zuckerberg’s new challenge.”
  4. [4]Erik Marcus, “Zuckerberg Will Only Eat What He Kills,” Vegan.com, May 26, 2011, http://vegan.com/blog/2011/05/26/zuckerberg-will-only-eat-what-he-kills/

One thought on “On the supposed moral superiority of killing an animal yourself

  • May 26, 2011 at 8:00 pm

    How is not killing more extreme than killing? I’m still scratching my head.

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