(ANIMAL NEWS) Why do we still eat meat? The New York Times is attempting to answer this question by launching a contest for omnivores to argue the ethics of meat eating. Entries will be judged by some of the most influential intellectuals, including Michael Pollen and Mark Bittman. Read on for more on this argument and submit your own entry. — Global Animal
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The New York Times, Ariel Kaminer

Ethically speaking, vegetables get all the glory. In recent years, vegetarians — and to an even greater degree vegans, their hard-core inner circle — have dominated the discussion about the ethics of eating. From the philosopher Peter Singer, whose 1975 volume “Animal Liberation” galvanized an international movement, to the novelist Jonathan Safran Foer, who wrote the 2009 best seller “Eating Animals,” those who forswear meat have made the case that what we eat is a crucial ethical decision. To be just, they say, we must put down our cheeseburgers and join their ranks.

In response, those who love meat have had surprisingly little to say. 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.

We have assembled a veritable murderer’s row of judges — some of the most influential thinkers to question or condemn the eating of meat: Peter Singer, Michael Pollan, Mark Bittman, Jonathan Safran Foer and Andrew Light. If you can make it past them, we’ll put your name in lights (or at least in print). So get thinking. And get writing. You have two weeks and 600 words in which to make sense of our species’ entire dietary history. Bon appétit!

Rules: This is a very specific contest. Don’t tell us why you like meat, why organic trumps local or why your food is yours to choose. Just tell us why it’s ethical to eat meat.

Guidelines: Send written entries of no more than 600 words to [email protected] Entries are due by April 8; no late submissions will be considered.

The Prize: The best essay or essays will be published in an upcoming issue of The New York Times.

The Caveat: Feel free to bat ideas around in the comments section below, but to be considered by the judges entries must be submitted to [email protected]

E-mail queries to [email protected], or send them to the Ethicist, The New York Times Magazine, 620 Eighth Avenue, New York, N.Y. 10018, and include a daytime phone number.

More New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/25/magazine/tell-us-why-its-ethical-to-eat-meat-a-contest.html?_r=1&ref=magazine