Choices are important. They represent our sense of freedom, and provide many in Western cultures a feeling of antiquated autonomy from some of the few required political taxations, such as those on luxury items, liquor or cigarettes. Taxes which often inflate the price of goods harmful to users or the environment.
In On the limits of food autonomy, “A classic defense by meat eaters is to declare that their food practices are a personal choice. Furthermore, vegans are often asked to ‘respect’ the choices of others as a mean of closing down critical conversations.” …. “However what is lost from such a request is the recognition that for most consumers of animal products no choice as such has been made. Consuming animals is a dominant cultural practice, and so it is part of the set of normalized values and ontological distinctions of the culture we are born into.” As such, it would appear the requirement for change must start at a global or federal level. Individual choice to harm the environment must be removed.
“Deploying privacy as a strategy or deflecting criticism incorrectly assumes that such food choices fall within the boundaries of acceptable autonomous actions. As the taboos against eating other humans and companion species demonstrate, food autonomy does not translate into the license to eat whatever (or whomever) one wants. The prohibition against cannibalism is not encountered as a limitation on human freedom, because this food ‘choice’ is incompatible with the ownership, exploitation and murder of fellow human beings. Humans are not food and the desire to consume the flesh of homosapiens is pathological.” Rather than an argument of who counts as “morally considerable life”, I think we are obligated to consider how great is the existent need for government to supersede ‘choice’. Western social cultures establish the right for individuals to choose their diet. And the impact on our ecology has primarily been a response to the growing western populations and the growing demand for animal consumption.
The argument of needing to eat meat is obviously quick to solve. Humans are omnivores, we have adapted to such, and commonly eat both plants and animals. That said, it is often more humane to consider consuming the flesh of a plant versus an animal. This is because, while both are considered sentient, the animal is considered akin to our species. It is notable to mention, plants too are exploited and stressed, to rapidly produce food for mankind. Arguably however, the stress animals endure is much greater due to their higher cognitive reasoning, but regardless, both are exploited. Similarly both the plant and animal production cycles impact our world negatively due to the larger-scale productions developed each year, but the output of noxious gases from animal production is much greater.
I agree with the sentiment, and I strongly believe moderation is key. That said, I believe the reality of Western culture electing for governmental control over food consumption is near non-existent. Too much is engrained in the concept of giving up meat. To have empathy for animals, we first must have empathy for ourselves and those around us. Awareness is key.