While the entire essay is worth reading, his conclusion stands out:
For me, eating meat is ethical when one does three things. First, you accept the biological reality that death begets life on this planet and that all life (including us!) is really just solar energy temporarily stored in an impermanent form. Second, you combine this realization with that cherished human trait of compassion and choose ethically raised food, vegetable, grain and/or meat. And third, you give thanks. — Jay Bost, NYTimes essay contest winner
Whether one agrees with him or not, I think most thoughtful readers will admire his approach.
What impresses me most is his acknowledgment that “giving thanks” is essential. I don’t take him to mean this in a religious, deity-oriented sense. I think he wants us to recognize that each meal is a blessing, a stroke of fortune afforded to us as conscious creatures atop the food chain, blessed to be living at a moment when agriculture, technology, and history combine to make food readily available to many (certainly not all; another reason for gratitude) on the planet. Be grateful for your good fortune, Your grandparents couldn’t take this for granted, and there are millions today experiencing hunger and starvation.
And it’s precisely this missing humility, this lack of gratitude, I find infuriatingly absent from every so-called foodie blog and writer I encounter.