The Ecological Citizen

A free-to-access publication confronting human supremacy in defence of the Earth


Long article

Eating animals: An ecocentric perspective

Rob Percival

The Ecological Citizen Vol 2 No 1 2018: 33–9

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First published: 1 July 2018  |  Permanent URL  |  Download citation in RIS format


Ecocentrism finds inherent value in all of nature, extending moral consideration to both biotic and abiotic components of ecosystems. This raises challenging questions concerning the ethics of food consumption. From an ecocentric perspective, what should humans eat? Our species is heterotrophic – we are consumers of other organisms – but which organisms should we consume? In particular, should humans eat non-human animals? This paper offers an ecocentric perspective on this question. This perspective is informed by an ethic of 'flourishing', which suggests that one should act in ways that contribute towards the flourishing of living organisms and the ecological systems in which they are embedded. Applying this ethic, the paper explores whether the consumption of animals can be understood as contributing towards, or cohering with, ecosystem flourishing, animal flourishing and human flourishing. The author examines each of these in turn, drawing out tensions and harmonies, to arrive at an ecocentric perspective on eating animals.



Agriculture, Animal ethics, Biodiversity, Ecological ethics, Intrinsic value