The Challenges of Dietary Pluralism
Forthcoming in M. Rawlinson (ed.), The Routledge Handbook of Food Ethics, New York: Routledge
15 Pages Posted: 29 Jul 2015
Date Written: July 22, 2015
The existence of diverse and often competing food standards is one of the most ordinary and yet theoretically underexplored facts of contemporary societies. Such standards concern what it is permissible to eat and how food should be produced and prepared. Vegetarianism illustrates the former, religious ritual animal slaughter exemplifies the latter. The normative implications of this sort of pluralism – call it “dietary pluralism” (DP) – have rarely been the subject of philosophical discussion. This is quite surprising given the centrality of certain dietary claims to a person’s integrity. Eating is, arguably, one of the most ordinary and yet intimate actions, in relation to which individual evaluative standards, cultural habits, and legal regulations are very often inextricably interwoven in constituting a person’s sense of her own self. By referring to illustrative cases of ritual slaughter and the request for a vegetarian option in public canteens, in this paper we aim to show the philosophical importance of DP by identifying its main features and the challenges it raises for political institutions.
Keywords: Pluralism, Liberalism, Food policies, Multiculturalism, Vegetarianism
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