Save the Meat for Cats: Why It’s Wrong to Eat Roadkill

Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics 32 (1):165-182 (2019)
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Because factory-farmed meat production inflicts gratuitous suffering upon animals and wreaks havoc on the environment, there are morally compelling reasons to become vegetarian. Yet industrial plant agriculture causes the death of many field animals, and this leads some to question whether consumers ought to get some of their protein from certain kinds of non factory-farmed meat. Donald Bruckner, for instance, boldly argues that the harm principle implies an obligation to collect and consume roadkill and that strict vegetarianism is thus immoral. But this argument works only if the following claims are true: all humans have access to roadkill, roadkill would go to waste if those who happen upon it don’t themselves consume it, it’s impossible to harvest vegetables without killing animals, the animals who are killed in plant production are all-things-considered harmed by crop farming, and the best arguments for vegetarianism all endorse the harm principle. As I will argue in this paper, each claim is deeply problematic. Consequently, in most cases, humans ought to strictly eat plants and save the roadkill for cats.

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Cheryl (C.E.) Abbate
University of Nevada, Las Vegas


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