Agree to disagree

Is it true that there is some implied censure in the decision not to eat meat, or not to eat factory-farmed meat? Well, given that I have concluded that refraining from the purchase factory farmed meat is the ethical thing to for me to do, then it is indeed logically implied that I also think it is the ethical thing for you to do.

However, polite society thrives on people with ethical differences agreeing to live and let live. I leave room for the possibility of errors in my own judgment, for differences in situations and priorities, and for the fact that no human relationship can survive a strict accounting of every value difference. I think it would be nice if everyone thought hard about how much moral weight to give to the suffering of animals, and gave up meat for a month or so in order to find out how hard it would be to live without it. (Answer: not nearly as hard as you think. I eat meat perhaps a few times a month, and honestly don't much miss it--and I like to eat.)

On the other hand, I also think it would be nice if everyone tried hard, every minute, to be as nice as possible to those around them; volunteered with homeless children in their spare time; and supported a robust free market regime. I don't live up to all of these ideals, however, and living in society means understanding that others make differing value judgments. I presume you know better than I do whether you are really doing your best to do what is right. I'm not going to lecture you on your moral obligations. In return, I would very much appreciate it if people would refrain from attempts to argue me out of doing what I believe is right because they would enjoy their own value judgments better if they had more company.

In short, if my refusal to eat factory farmed meat makes you uncomfortable, then you should probably stop eating factory farmed meat. Because I am not, I swear, wasting one moment of an enjoyable dinner worrying about what's on your plate.

I mean, except if it's brains. That's just disgusting.

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Megan McArdle is a columnist at Bloomberg View and a former senior editor at The Atlantic. Her new book is The Up Side of Down.

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