I also strive to be an ethical omnivore and am comfortable with my decisions and reasoning.
I don't expect everyone to share my view, nor do I think there is one
correct way to feed yourself. I think that the human race has a relationship with food that simply does not mirror that of the other animals on our planet, for better and
worse. Populations all over the world have developed different food cultures over the millennia primarily stemming from geographic realities, but also from the complex social and political way we organize ourselves.
I take some issue with vegans who conflate their moral standing with a wider ethical one. In north america when I see wealthy white individuals taking a hard stance against animal consumption, it reminds of a very collonial mindset, as First Nations and Inuit have traditionally had meat-based and omnivore diets. Obviously, I personally see a glaring difference between traditional hunting and factory farms. When I think about my food choices it goes beyond a black and white, killing=bad, and instead look at the many other factors of sustainable growth, social and community impacts, environmental degradation, economics, and the innumerable links and additional factors among those. This billboard was making the rounds several years ago and I think it tries to address some of Floras points from a vegan or vegetarian perspective:
My argument is that as a society and individual, you draw the line the same way you draw the line for other equally ethically challenging questions. For some people that line may be no animals, for others it may be some of those. It's ok to pick and choose. You do it with people. No one is friends with everyone; you have a family you may treat differently then your friends, verses your very good friends, vs coworkers, vs a stranger on the street, etc. This isn't good or bad, it's just how we all navigate through life. Absolutely it's possible to take a shining to a pig that you were raising for slaughter, and either choose to keep it alive on the farm for companionship, or continue with the planned butchering. There will likely be a mix of emotions regardless of your decision, and you will come to it by reflecting on the implications that matter to you. I have spent time saving birds that we will eventually kill. I think that most farmers on small farms have done this with their animals, because having a relationship with your food, whether it is plant or animal leads to a feeling of being more connected to the life sustaining world around you.
I am not saying I think that anything goes. I have my own moral lines and I'd say they align pretty well with the larger socially acceptable norms around me. I'm boring that way.
I think that no matter what your eating preference is, if people are able think more deeply about those choices and be open to change we are all better off. I like to assume that most people want to be kind, and thoughtful, and live in a way that is less damaging to others. Being an ethical eater is not simple or straightforward but I believe it's worth striving for.