The story was more of an extended mockery of vegetarianism than a real examination of the phenomenon, which seems to be anecdotal at best.
By no means is the article thorough, and it speaks only of vegetarians without mentioning veganism. But what is even more disturbing than ending the article with a quote from Homer Simpson, “Mmmmmm Bacon,” is the fact that the animal rights opposition to eating meat isn’t even mentioned, much less explored. The closest the author gets to mentioning a moral opposition to eating pigs is that Jonathan Safran Foer, author of Eating Animals refused to eat bacon on The Colbert Report.
The entire article is a lengthy treatise on the virtues of bacon and demonstrates the disregard that even those in the supposedly progressive, intellectual side of journalism treat animal rights.
We partially have ourselves to thank for this; so many people who have an interest in the philosophy behind animal rights allow themselves to be placated by ovo-lacto vegetarianism or “humane, free range” meat. How can we expect to be taken seriously if we have no definitive and consistent moral stance?
Of course it is true that as concerns about the animals that we eat become more common, there will be those who dabble with philosophy half-heartedly for one reason or another and who inevitably return to a diet of dead animals. In any social movement, there will be those who decide that the cause isn’t worth the work.
But a return to eating meat means a return to endorsing the idea that because something will eventually taste good if we kill it and cook it, then we have the right to kill and cook it. If you try to apply that hedonistic standard of behavior to other pleasures in life, it becomes criminal very fast. But we tolerate it in animals because we inherently view anything that isn’t human as lower and unworthy of any moral consideration whatsoever.
The fact that bacon smells or tastes good is irrelevant in moral considerations.
Did you know that pigs are the smartest domestic animal in the world? They’re capable of complex social interaction and problem solving, and they are smarter than dogs and young human children. They learn by example, have great senses of direction and can play video games.
If we knew as much about the living animal as we do about its dead cooked flesh, would we be so willing to mock people who abstain from eating animals? Would we so quickly praise the ex-vegetarian who snatches up a strip of bacon from the frying pan?
The more that we learn about the intellectual capabilities of animals, the more uncomfortable we should be with the idea of killing and eating them. A hundred years ago, we had very little grasp of how much could be going on inside the mind of an animal doomed to slaughter.
Now, as we learn more every day that intelligence isn’t a dichotomy of humans and everything else, but more of a gradient, it’s hard to know how to justify treating a sentient non-human as nothing more than an object.
If you’re uncomfortable with the idea of killing and eating an animal that’s smarter than a three-year-old human, then give up bacon and every other meat and animal product along with it. And once you’ve done that, don’t go back to a diet based on slaughter, ever.