[T]hose who love meat have had surprisingly little to say [in response to arguments advocating vegetarianism]. They say, of course, that, well, they love meat or that meat is deeply ingrained in our habit or culture or cuisine or that it’s nutritious or that it’s just part of the natural order. Some of the more conscientious carnivores have devoted themselves to enhancing the lives of livestock, by improving what those animals eat, how they live and how they are killed. But few have tried to answer the fundamental ethical issue: Whether it is right to eat animals in the first place, at least when human survival is not at stake.
So today we announce a nationwide contest for the omnivorous readers of The New York Times. We invite you to make the strongest possible case for this most basic of daily practices.
I thought and thought and thought some more but I can't come up with an ethical justification (though I am not a vegetarian--rather I'm just a hypocrite). The best I can come up with is something I don't believe: that under a utilitarian understanding of ethics, in which one should maximize happiness, consuming delicious, delicious bacon greatly maximizes my happiness and that trumps any duty I may owe to the source of such bacon. (I think the basic problem with this theory is that it assumes Descartes is correct when he suggests that animals do not suffer and are not conscious--something I certainly reject.)
So if anyone has a good ethical justification this could be your chance to be published in the Times.