People abstain from meat-eating for a variety of reasons, but the ethical issues typically top the list: those who feel it is not our right to slaughter sentient beings for our own pleasure when most can survive just fine on a vegetarian or vegan diet are a large lot. This has long been the case.

But now, we have some indication that even those who are part of the slaughter process itself may think it’s wrong. In a recent post titled, “It Might Be Wrong to Eat Meat,” Bob Comis, a “humane” animal farmer at Stony Brook Farm in Schoharie, N.Y., confessed he was beginning to feel doubts about killing animals.

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“This morning, as I look out the window at a pasture quickly growing full of frolicking lambs, I am feeling very much that it might be wrong to eat meat, and that I might indeed be a very bad person for killing animals for a living,” he writes.

After the post, Comis spoke with Modern Farmer about his dilemma.

“Watching the pigs shows me over and over again, in countless and sometimes very subtle ways, that there is much more to the life experiences of animals than most of us know or are willing to believe,” he says.

Comis noted that because he is a humane farmer, he is able to rationalize his actions.

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“I offer a way out of the industrial farming system, which is worse by orders of magnitude than the way I farm,” he says.

But now, even with the humane parameters in place, Comis questions the process still: “But no matter how well it’s done, I can’t help but question the killing itself. In a way, livestock farmers lie to their animals. We’re kind to them and take good care of them for months, even years. They grow comfortable with our presence, and even begin to like us. But in the end, we take advantage of the animals, using their trust to dupe them into being led to their own deaths.”

Even still, Comis notes that even if we’re to stop eating meat (he tried going vegan but felt “unsatisfied”), he would still farm animals.

“We need farming with a high quality of animal welfare as a counterpoint to industrial, factory-style farming,” he says. “It is one of the first steps in our cultural evolution. Conscientious animal farming is necessary for a transition toward a vegan world.”

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Green Monsters: What are your thoughts? Is humane farming a necessary step on the way to a meatless world? Or is this a matter of all or nothing?

Image source: Michael Kramer/Flickr

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