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May 22, 2013: Meat industry workers' transition to more ethical jobs

Originally posted on this blog.

In defence of the meat industry, some people bring up the inevitable job losses if and when we were ever to move to a more vegetarian way of life. They argue that many farmers and others working in various meat, fish, and dairy industries would become unemployed, and that the welfare and ability of these individuals to earn an income should take precedence over animal rights issues.

It is never good for people who work in a certain industry when that industry declines. The first thing to remember, however is that this phenomenon is nothing new, historically speaking. Industries lose their importance, and sometimes completely fall by the wayside for a variety of reasons: The development of more efficient ways to provide goods or services, environmental concerns, ethical concerns, etc. This has always happened, and will continue to happen. While not always representative of progress, in some cases it is. One only need to look at how more and more places are embracing a more environmentally friendly methods of energy production (wind, solar, etc.), causing traditional industries such as the coal industry, to decline. The possible decline of the meat industry and the subsequent growth of non-meat alternative industries would be a very positive thing, as it would mean a decline in the death and suffering of millions of innocent beings. Effaists such as myself would welcome this sort of thing, since we believe that the killing of these innocent animals is responsible for many of the problems we face in the world today. While we should indeed worry about the ability of farmers and other individuals working in the above-mentioned industries to make a living, we should take steps to ensure that they do so as ethically as possible.

People will always need to eat, so farmers will not become obsolete. When other industries decline, the jobs that are lost are sometimes replaced with completely different jobs requiring completely different skills, so those working in the original industry canít easily switch over. In food production, this can be a bit easier to do. Simply put, it would be easier for a farmer to go from livestock raising to, say, soy production, than it would for a coal miner to start working in the solar energy industry. The same can be said for people working in meat-production plants, etc. They would simply find work in a non-meat food production plant/factory. In the long run, once people adapt to working the new industries, there would be as many people involved in the food production process as before. The only difference will be that these people will no longer be contributing to the death and suffering of innocent beings.

On a side note, another important point to remember is that working in and around so much death can and does affect our minds and our moods. Some people can simply brush it off as "just a job", but the negative effects of working in such an environment should not be underestimated.

Once again, I donít mean to oversimplify the process of altering the current food-production infrastructure or to underestimate the challenges of retraining the people employed in the meat industry, but because of all the moral and ethical problems associated with meat production, this has to be done. Remember the importance of actively trying to affect change, and encourage your member of parliament, congressman, local representative, or any other appropriate member of government, to develop and invest in meat and dairy alternative food industries.

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