I've still been away for a while, but this topic irks me so much for some reason that I have to jump into the fold again.
I eat meat. I enjoy meat a lot. I've been a hunter for a decade now as well, but very rarely get out. Guns and ammo are expensive, yo. nowaypablo mentioned getting a wild pig. I can tell you nothing is more exhilarating and terrifying than boar hunting. And really, Pablo, we should do that some time.
So that's one level of things to tackle. People want to make that mention of 'more ethical meat'. So let's lay out the levels of arguments on meat.
-The one I already mentioned, those that don't oppose meat eating when you're hunting for it, or at a stricter level, those are hunt meat to survive. These are the vegetarians that are able to take a step back from their First World privilege where they have the ability to not eat meat and recognize that other places in the world have no choice. Okay. Cool.
-The types of people that have no problems with meat being eaten by others, but don't personally want to. I don't see an issue with this. These are people that are usually conflicted in some way about taking a life or find animals adorable or have the ability to not eat meat without much issue. They recognize that they have their choices, and other people have theirs, and stepping into others' lives claiming 'ethics' is a breach of boundaries and common decency, despite whether they believe animals have freedom of choice or consciousness.
-The vegetarian, usually vegan as well, that opposes the entire entire of meat or animal products, that they are morally superior for not using these products in any way at all, and it is their god-given duty (and I mean God-given, as this more closely resembles Christian religious evangelism than anything else) to tell every last person on Earth about it. These are the people who don't take a step back from their position of privilege to understand there are other circumstances, and who will spout that even 'free range animals would prefer to be free than eaten :)' when, no, in reality, they'll still be eaten, just not by humans, and I don't think you understand that wolves don't have consideration for ethical killing, nor do they really care about the quality of life of creatures living in the wild vs. living in a range managed by humans. I think this is the most fantasy world that's most disconnecting humans and animals, despite their claims of "one in the same!" because they have some idea of an equation where "animals - humans = peaceful harmony where everything lives forever and is cute and happier."
-Lastly, the people who don't oppose meat, but oppose factory farms. I feel like factory farms are what lead most people to be vegetarians in the first place. I subscribe to this pretty well, for a lot of reasons. Nothing should have to have a miserable life, whether it has consciousness or not. A chicken doesn't care if its life purpose is to be eaten, but it does care if it never moves. Animals should have a high standard of living that meets or exceeds what it would in the wild (i.e. space, regular feeding, medication, safety). Beyond this, at a capitalist level, removing corporations and strong-arming small and family farms is absolutely fucking vital to every country. Allowing corporations to wholesale owning agriculture and food is one of the most dangerous things possible in the long term, and it isn't addressed enough.
Of course I have conflicted feelings on eating meat. There's always the chance of it turning out that every animal on Earth is exactly as conscious and aware of everything as humans are. But I don't see where that leads to making eating meat morally wrong. Everything dies at some point. Everything. Death is the absolute most important part of the life cycle. Why it shouldn't serve a purpose of sustenance of other creatures and enjoyment of others is beyond me. To discuss moral questions, one of the things that rustles my feathers most is Western human funeral procedures. We die, fill our bodies with toxic chemicals, seal them in boxes, and bury them, where they cannot become a part of the life cycle, and don't feed other creatures. How is that not wrong? We should provide animals freedom to die, or be eaten by other animals, but when you factor humans into the creatures that eat them, it becomes different because we're aware of what we're doing, or planning it agriculturally somehow it inverts it? And at the same time, we don't believe in the Earth completing its cycles naturally in our deaths, and well, fucking billions of other ways as well.
But sure. I can't actually come up with a reason why one should eat meat, in a wealthy, first world country with other options. Because there are other options, and you are taking a life from eating meat. If you find that makes you uncomfortable, that's your own right. There's nothing wrong with not eating meat. I simply don't find anything particularly wrong with eating it either. That's my stance, at least. I enjoy it. I don't find qualms with myself enjoying it. It's going to get eaten completely regardless, by other animals or 'eaten' by the soil when it dies. 'Life' is such weird, vague, ethereal concept to the human mind as it is, limiting it to the discussion of whether we should eat something is bewildering.
Personal anecdote on hunting: I have always found that hunting-- and most other hunters seem to think this way too, across the whole gamut of people who hunt-- is an activity that is completely a commune with nature and evokes an enormous respect for the world around you. I can't express what it's like to be tracking a deer for three days in the woods. You have every kind of life around you, and the majority of your time is spent is silence, and hopefully reverence. You try to understand the patterns of everything around you and the animal you're hunting. The kill isn't really the focal point at all, it's usually just a rote part of the cycle. You kill the animal to clean the animal, the use the parts of the animal for a world of necessary things, and you have the meat and energy provided by the animal to sustain yourself and others. It's a wonderful thing. And that hippy-dippy "one with nature" bullshit isn't possible without something like that. You can't separate yourself from animals and believe that you're respecting it when you simply close your eyes and cover your ears as to how the systems of nature work. It's belittling to believe you love the animals and respect them just because you don't eat them.
This reads more spiritual than I meant for it to be. Perhaps that's good, because most of the arguments against meat seem to read spiritually as well.