What's wrong with animalby-products?

  • Gary E. Varner


Without looking beyond the conditions under which laying hens typically live in the contemporary U.S. egg industry, we can understand why the production and consumption of “factory farmed” eggs could be judged immoral. However, the question, “What (if anything) is wrong with animal by-products?” cannot always be adequately answered by looking at the conditions under which animals live out their productive lives. For the dairy industry looks benign in those terms, but if we look beyond the conditions under which milk cows live, we can better understand some animal rights activists' reasons for objecting to dairy products. The contemporary U.S. dairy industry requires a slaughter industry between one-seventh and one-third the size of the contemporary beef industry. Today, beef slaughter is vastly more humane than poultry slaughter, but if today's beef slaughter industry is judged emmoral, the contemporary dairy industry should be judged similarly immoral, because the two are wedded. This is the deep reason for moral suspicion of the dairy industry.


animal rights animal by-products vegetarian diet 


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Copyright information

© Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics 1994

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gary E. Varner
    • 1
  1. 1.Philosophy and Humanities and Center for Biotechnology Policy and EthicsTexas A&M UniversityCollege StationUSA

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