Eating Death: Vegetarians, Meat and Violence
Author: Hamilton, Malcolm
Source: Food, Culture and Society: An International Journal of MultidisciplinaryResearch, 1 August 2006, vol. 9, no. 2, pp. 155-177(23)
Abstract:Vegetarianism has long been associated in popular imagination with pacifism and nonviolence due to the prevalence of ethical motives underlying it. If this is so ethically motivated vegetarians might be expected to be more sensitive about and opposed to acts involving violence than either vegetarians motivated by health concerns or the meat-eating population in general. This article seeks to test such an expectation, reporting findings from a study using in-depth interviews with vegetarians variously motivated by ethical as well as health and other concerns, and with meat eaters. Respondents were asked their views about capital punishment, nuclear weapons, abortion, boxing, foxhunting, shooting and angling for sport. The data are used to assess theories of vegetarianism that emphasize meat as a symbol of violence and/or of domination and oppression. The findings present a varied and fairly complex picture with opposition to foxhunting and "blood" sports being considerably greater than among other vegetarians and meat eaters, to capital punishment and nuclear weapons less clearly so and to boxing and abortion not noticeably different. In fact a strong anti-authoritarian and anti-regulatory orientation among ethically motivated vegetarians appears to override potential opposition in these cases.
Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: August 1, 2006