Is it worse to kill an animal or a fellow human being? The presiding opinion is not only in favour of killing the animal, but strongly in favour of it – animals are slaughtered on a vast scale to service the needs, and more commonly the desires, of human society.
A good working definition of moral evil might be that moral evil occurs when a body consciously acts to the detriment of another body. This seems simple enough to be going on with, but it also seems evident that for a poor man to steal from a rich man is less evil than for the rich man to steal from the poor. I would therefore suggest that, in fact, moral evil is defined in some part by hierarchy; it is more evil when a body of greater power consciously acts to the detriment of a body of lesser power.
The same applies to murder. It is commonly considered worse for a man to kill a child than for a man to kill another man. Similarly, it is worse for an armed man to kill an unarmed man than it is for a man to kill another man who is similarly armed. Either way, it is still better than killing a child. It’s hierarchical, and it’s evident in the responses of people to such cases. On this basis, I would suggest that the wider the power gap, the worse the moral evil implied when cruelty between two bodies takes place.
Meat, therefore, is not murder – rather, it is worse than murder. An animal, being without consciousness and reasoning on the same level as a human being, is comparable in its relative power to an infant. Since the majority of murders don’t feature babies as their victims, the slaughter of animals is morally worse than murder in general.
Added to this, the conscious act is vital to the definition of moral evil. We can hardly say an act is evil if it is the product of actions of the brain over which we have reduced or no control. Outside of humanity, therefore, evil cannot exist. For this reason, the reduction of the human species is preferable to the reduction of other species, since evil is dependent on humanity.
The elimination of evil can only occur with the extinction of humanity – but even a partial reduction in the human population would produce better living conditions among those remaining, as well as greater sustainability of those conditions. Any reduction in human population, therefore, whether it constitutes a total eradication or a partial eradication on any level, would be to some extent beneficial in both philosophical and practical terms.
Given that the state of consciousness of an infant is roughly comparable to that of an animal, and that animals are routinely slaughtered for the general comfort of mankind, I fail to see why the same rules should not apply. A general cull of the human populace would be beneficial to the world at large, and to refuse it only on the basis of arbitrary species distinction is to work using a very questionable double standard.