Although I will be defending a hierarchical approach to animal ethics, I do so with considerable misgivings, for I am afraid that some may come away thinking that my aim is to defend an approach that would justify much or all of our current treatment of animals. […] [N]othing like this is remotely the case. Our treatment of animals is a moral horror of unspeakable proportions, staggering the imagination. Absolutely nothing that I say here is intended to offer any sort of justification for the myriad appalling and utterly unacceptable ways in which we mistreat, abuse, and torture animals. […] [I]t seems to me to be true both that animals count for less than people and yet, for all that, that they still count sufficiently that there is simply no justification whatsoever for anything close to current practices.
Shelly Kagan, How to Count Animals, More or Less, Oxford, 2019, pp. 4–5
The ways in which creatures in nature die are typically violent: predation, starvation, disease, parasitism, cold. The dying animal in the wild does not understand the vast ocean of misery into which it and billions of other animals are born only to drown. If the wild animal understood the conditions into which it is born, what would it think? It might reasonably prefer to be raised on a farm, where the chances of survival for a year or more would be good, and to escape from the wild, where they are negligible. Either way, the animal will be eaten: few die of old age. The path from birth to slaughter, however, is often longer and less painful in the barnyard than in the woods. Comparisons, sad as they are, must be made to recognize where a great opportunity lies to prevent or mitigate suffering. The misery of animals in nature – which humans can do much to relieve – makes every other form of suffering pale in comparison. Mother Nature is so cruel to her children she makes Frank Perdue look like a saint.
Marc Sagoff, ‘Animal Liberation and Environmental Ethics: Bad Marriage, Quick Divorce’, Osgoode Law Journal, vol. 22, no. 2 (Summer, 1984), p. 303
If there is one salient fact we have learned talking with thousands of people about farm animal welfare, it is this: people do not know much about the way farm animals are raised.
Bailey Norwood & Jayson Lusk, Compassion, by the Pound: The Economics of Farm Animal Welfare, New York, 2011, p. 327
If most urban meat-eaters were to visit an industrial broiler house, to see how the birds are raised, and could see the birds being ‘harvested’ and then being ‘processes’ in a poultry processing plant, some, perhaps many of them, would swear off eating chicken and perhaps all meat.
Peter Cheeke, Contemporary Issues in Animal Agriculture, 2nd ed., Danville, Illinois, 1990, p. 50
The Matrix naturally adopts the perspective of the humans: they are the victims, the slaves, cruelly exploited by the machines. But there is another perspective, that of the machines themselves. […] The machines need to factory farm the humans, as a direct result of the humans’ trying to exterminate the machines, but they do so as painlessly as possible. Compared to the way the humans used to treat their own factory-farm animals—their own fuel cells-the machines are models of caring livestock husbandry.
Colin McGinn, ‘The Matrix of Dreams’, in Christopher Grau (ed.), Philosophers Explore The Matrix, New York, 2005, pp. 62-63
Cloning technologies even offer a possible solution for world hunger: creating meat and other protein sources in a factory without animals by cloning animal muscle tissue. Benefits would include extremely low cost, avoidance of pesticides and hormones that occur in natural meat, greatly reduced environmental impact (compared to factory farming), improved nutritional profile, and no animal suffering. As with therapeutic cloning, we would not be creating the entire animal but rather directly producing the desired animal parts or flesh. Essentially, all of the meat—billions of pounds of it—would be derived from a single animal.
There are other benefits to this process besides ending hunger. By creating meat in this way, it becomes subject to the law of accelerating returns—the exponential improvements in price-performance of information-based technologies over time—and will thus become extremely inexpensive. Even though hunger in the world today is certainly exacerbated by political issues and conflicts, meat could become so inexpensive that it would have a profound effect on the affordability of food.
The advent of animal-less meat will also eliminate animal suffering. The economics of factory farming place a very low priority on the comfort of animals, which are treated as cogs in a machine. The meat produced in this manner, although normal in all other respects, would not be part of an animal with a nervous system, which is generally regarded as a necessary element for suffering to occur, at least in a biological animal. We could use the same approach to produce such animal by-products as leather and fur. Other major advantages would be to eliminate the enormous ecological and environmental damage created by factory farming as well as the risk of prion-based diseases, such as mad-cow disease and its human counterpart, vCJD.
Ray Kurzweil, The Singularity Is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology, New York, 2005, p. 224