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Announcing the Winner of Our Essay Contest, “Why It’s Unethical to Eat Meat.” Congratulations, Alan W. Peck!

By Visiting Animal — April 27, 2012

Congratulations to Alan W. Peck, the winner of the Our Hen House essay contest, “Calling All Herbivores: Tell Us Why It’s Unethical to Eat Meat.” Alan’s essay stood out as being funny, accessible, yet still carrying a profound meaning for why there is simply no rationalization for eating meat. Alan, you’ve won an Our Hen House tote bag and a signed copy of your choice of one of Isa Chandra Moskowitz’s cookbooks! 

Photo Courtesy Farm Sanctuary (

Thank you to everyone who sent us their essay. As we have said, it was a harrowing ordeal to go through all of your brilliant work and decide on 4 runners-up and 1 winner. You inspired and enlightened us!

Here is Alan W. Peck’s winning essay:



Why It’s Unethical to Eat Meat

by Alan W. Peck

When I first met my best vegan friend, I said to him, half serious and trying to be funny, “Almost all of my friends are Mexican, so I don’t think I could live my life without carne asada.” And… crickets. He just looked at me, and started talking to someone else.

Wounded by the awareness of my own bullshit, I went home that night and proceeded to scour the internet, fully determined — since I considered myself an ethical person — to find an ethical argument for eating meat.

Well, I failed… miserably. In my research I came across a simple yet devastatingly bulletproof argument against eating animals and their bodily secretions, using ethics and simple logic. It goes like this:

Can humans survive and thrive on a plant based diet?

Well I hadn’t really thought about it before, but despite some shady articles by the dairy industry slandering soy, apparently so.

Does all production of animal products, factory farmed or otherwise, cause suffering?

After a lot of research and reading too much on the internet about bees… yes.

Do I believe that willfully participating in unnecessary suffering is unethical?

Of course. I’m not a monster.

Given that humans can survive and thrive on a plant based diet, isn’t the suffering caused in the production of animal foods unnecessary?

Oh boy… I guess so but —

Well then if willful participation in unnecessary suffering is unethical, don’t you think you should put down that sausage?

Fuck. I can’t do this anymore.

And that’s how, midway through my standard American breakfast on November 12, 2010, I became vegan.

Admittedly, it did take me a few months after my exposure to the facts to come to terms with them, so I empathize with people who “most certainly could not live without cheese.” But given that you are a decent person, you owe it to the animals — and to yourself — to not remain willfully ignorant, or block out the truth you already know for the satisfaction of your taste buds… And honestly, given how much delicious plant based food there is in the world, flavor and texture, along with emotional comfort and family tradition, are nothing more than hollow excuses. You’re better than that.

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(19) Readers Comments

  1. April 27, 2012 at 7:58 am

    That. Is. Brilliant. Well done, Alan!

  2. April 27, 2012 at 8:27 am

    Simple and well-reasoned. Great job, Alan--and congrats!

  3. April 27, 2012 at 9:10 am

    That's a great story! Discussing your own awakening while you still ate meat really makes people stop and think. They can't completely write you off as a different type of person. I liked reading these essays. I'm going to post mine on my blog, and I think everyone else should too. Let's saturate the internet with various arguments against meat. :)

  4. April 27, 2012 at 9:23 am

    I'm printing this and giving it to everyone who asks me why I'm vegan.

  5. Liz Dee
    April 27, 2012 at 10:44 am

    This is so similar to why I became vegan... I started out completely biased trying to prove myself right- To no avail!

  6. April 27, 2012 at 11:37 am


  7. Stephen Lukas
    April 27, 2012 at 12:35 pm

    Is it wrong to just print copies to hand out to friends, family and strangers? Is it still plagiarism if I use these exact words to influence and inspire others to go vegan? Never overlook the power of a succinct, fact-based argument (dripping with humour and self-awareness) to make the case. Very well-written. Thanks for sharing, Alan.

  8. April 27, 2012 at 5:13 pm


  9. April 27, 2012 at 7:20 pm

    That is just what I said to myself "Fuck I can't do this anymore !" one day when I was giving my dog a belly rub and he reminded me of a lamb . I really didn't know anything about factory farming etc. just realized other animals should have the same rights as my pooch or his guardian . I did look for an egg loop hole . Did some googeling and found out about ground up newborn roosters pretty fast . So in 10 minutes I was basically vegan . No more denial or excuses .

  10. April 27, 2012 at 9:06 pm

    I greatly admire your honesty, Alan. This essay is in a word, EPIC.

  11. Joe Espinosa
    April 30, 2012 at 8:02 am

    The great strengths of the essay are it's simplicity and honesty. Rather than listing 25 (or more) reasons, each of which are opportunities for unwilling omnivores for find an excuse to dismiss the entire issue, Alan kept to the pure point that causing others to suffer and die for our pleasure is a very ugly, selfish thing to do. I stick to that concept each week as I leaflet. .

  12. May 2, 2012 at 12:02 am

    Yes. Everyone should print this out and hand around to everyone. And waste paper. For ethics.

  13. May 6, 2012 at 9:09 am

    Nice logic trail. Too bad all meat eaters are not Vulcans and use their emotional desires to trump your very well thought out path. There seems to be no argument when one's response to a compassionate argument is, "But it tastes good." Remind them that food, in it's basic form, was, uh, nourishment and not entertainment. Marty Marty's Flying Vegan Review @veganpilotmarty

  14. July 24, 2012 at 8:41 am

    Succint and powerful; wonderfully stated. Like other commenters (and who knows how many other people...) I too argued with myself and eventually saw that there were no good excuses for my continuing to eat animal products.This happened concurrently with an increasing bond and respect for animals,which started when my wife and I fostered a cat "for five days" (he is still with us 12 years later.).

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