Story and photo by Sean O’Sullivan
LOGAN – A logic and religious history-based argument may leave Mormons questioning whether or not they should be eating meat.
Chris Foster, professor of philosophy and logic at Utah Valley University, came to Utah State University Thursday to explain his reasoning behind becoming a vegetarian, and why he feels it is clear that other people, focusing on Mormons, should as well.
Being a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints isn’t what led Foster to becoming a vegetarian; he was one before he was baptized.
“If something is being killed, I shouldn’t have anything to do with it,” Foster said.
But now, he is able to communicate his decision to more people, and has expanded on his reasoning.
From a logical perspective, Foster explained that killing animals causes them harm, and it is morally wrong to cause something harm unless the benefits outweigh the harm caused. But he feels that raising animals for food causes more harm than benefits, and therefore killing and eating animals is morally wrong.
However, Foster knows changing peoples’ minds is going to be tougher than laying out a series of logical arguments. “We need to be willing to listen to the other side,” he said.
The main argument against vegetarianism is that animals are less important than humans, Foster said, and he explained that people would be forced to say this. If animals were allowed to be on the same level as humans, then killing animals would be akin to killing humans. We as a society deem killing humans to be terrible, so in order to continue eating meat we have to keep animals on a level below humans. However, Foster said that animals should be considered equal to humans.
Then, Foster went in to the religious side of his argument. He was able to find multiple instances of LDS prophets saying not to kill and eat animals. However, all the prophets agreed that eating animals was acceptable when no other means of acquiring food were available.
Prophets such as Joseph Smith, Joseph Smith Jr., Lorenzo Smith and Brigham Young have all voiced their disapproval of eating animals. However, apostle and member of the First Presidency George Q. Cannon may have been the most vocal.
“I’d go so far as to say George Q. Cannon was an activist,” Foster said.
Foster also showed quotes from scriptures that say killing animals harms them, and he was able to bring back his logical argument that harming something shouldn’t be tolerated.
“I like that he showed the logic side and then tying it to the LDS Doctrine at the end,” said Quinton Cannon, who is an active LDS member and a vegetarian.
At the end, Foster showed a 12-minute movie about animal conditions in slaughterhouses. The animals in the video were routinely beaten and mistreated. Foster said the video was hard for him to watch.
“You don’t need philosophy; you don’t need religion,” said Foster. “It’s obvious that it’s abuse; it’s obvious that it’s unethical.”
After the movie, there was a question and answer portion where students brought up the fact that the LDS church owns ranches for animal raising. These questions brought about a discussion that had to be cut short so Foster could drive back to UVU to teach a class.
“I liked the question and answer thing at the end,” said Crystal Larsen. “I’ve seen the video before, but I liked the questions brought up at the end.”
Foster’s presentation can be found on the Mormons for Animals homepage, a group he helped to start.