We humans are pretty proud of all the things we’ve accomplished. And heck, look at what we’ve done! We’ve built complex, enduring civilizations, with carefully thought-out systems for creating legal and judicial structures that support and enforce our ethics and beliefs.
But no matter where you fall on the political / religious / moral spectrum, you can probably name a few things that we could improve about our current laws and institutions. However, most of us see our humanity as an ongoing project; yes, there are things that we still need to improve, but we’ve also come a long way. Yes, we may have different ideas about how best to structure and run our societies, but almost all of us agree on some fundamentals of human decency.
I’m proud of humans that — even though we’re still struggling, and have had varying degrees of success — we’ve decided that we want to move beyond the ‘bad old days’ of raping and pillaging and indiscriminate murder. There are aspects of our nature that we find problematic, and we’re working on taming those ‘animal’ urges in order to create a more civilized and just society.
That’s why I’m puzzled when people argue that they should eat meat because it’s “human nature,” or because their canine incisors are evidence that humans are “built” for meat eating.
There are plenty of elements of “human nature” that we’ve decided are cruel, brutal, and shouldn’t be encouraged anymore. You can certainly disagree about whether slaughtering animals belongs on that list, alongside rape and murder, but it doesn’t make sense to use early humans’ behavior, or homo sapiens’ skeletal structure, as an excuse for our current behavior. We don’t accept that excuse in other cases, so I don’t see why people can use it to get off-the-hook in this case.
For most of us, eating meat is a choice. So if someone is going to make the choice to voluntarily take the lives of other beings every single day, I certainly hope that person has a better justification than the shape of their tooth!