Manly Meat and Gendered Eating: Correcting Imbalance and Seeking Virtue

In Andrew Chignell, Terence Cuneo & Matthew C. Halteman (eds.), Philosophy Comes to Dinner: Arguments on the Ethics of Eating. New York: Routledge Press. pp. 39-55 (2016)
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The ecofeminist argument for veganism is powerful. Meat consumption is a deeply gendered act that is closely tied to the systematic objectification of women and nonhuman animals. I worry, however, that presenting veganism as "the" moral ideal might reinforce rather than alleviate the disordered status quo in gendered eating, further disadvantaging women in patriarchal power structures. In this chapter, I advocate a feminist account of ethical eating that treats dietary choices as moral choices insofar as they constitute an integral part of our relationships to ourselves and to others. I believe that we should think of dietary choices in Aristotelian moral terms as a mean relative to us, falling on a continuum between the vice of doing injustice to ourselves, on the one hand, and the vice of doing injustice to others, on the other. On this view, what it is moral to eat for individuals is not a fixed ideal, but rather depends on particulars of our physiological, psychological, economic, cultural, and relational situations.

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Christina VanDyke
Barnard College


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