Choose your form of planetary evil
Another excerpt from "Animal Vegetable Miracle," Barbara Kingsolver's 2007 book. In this one, she talks about those who choose to be vegetarian. I've approached this topic a few times (including here, here, and here), still without conclusion, but we do have some similarities.
I respect every diner who makes morally motivated choices about consumption. And I stand with nonviolence, as one of those extemist moms who doesn't let kids at her house pretend to shoot each other, ever, or make a game out of human murder. But I've come to different conclusions about livestock. ... [M]eat, poultry, and eggs from animals raised on open pasture are the traditional winter fare of my grandparents, and they serve us well here in the months when it would cost a lot of fossil fuels to keep us in tofu. Should I overlook the suffering of victims of hurricanes, famines, and wars brought on this world by profligate oil consumption? Bananas that cost a rain forest, refrigerator-trucked soy milk, and prewashed spinach shipped two thousand miles in plastic containers do not seem cruelty free, in this context. A hundred different paths may lighten the world's load of suffering. Giving up meat is one path; giving up bananas is another. [Page 225]
I was only partly persuaded before I started writing. The violence done intentially to one sentient individual seemed a level higher than the collective degradations we suffer from global climate change, or the plastic dump in the South Pacific. But while the former dies in support of life, in a deliberative process, the seabird who chokes on a plastic bag it thought was food also dies at human hands, but pointlessly, carelessly.
BTW, she distinguishes between livestock brought up humanely and animals warehoused in crates pending slaughter, and so do I.