Interesting post and an important discussion to have. There are, of course, many factors that influence our attitudes toward eating other animals (or certain plants!) and moral principles, social conventions, and personal autonomy are very intertwined. Our attitudes about animals reflect deeply engrained influences including religion, what we consider “family”, our responsibilities to others. (I, for instance, often think about why Western society seems to be sadder when a child dies than an older person.)
The First Nations and Native American communities do not consider themselves to be separate from the animals in the way most Western cultures do. In my conversations with Haida and Southwestern US tribal members, they consider all of nature to have will and animacy down to the sea and the rocks. We are all connected. That, however, does not mean that they don’t eat other animals. But they are very careful to respect and thank the creatures that have sacrificed themselves, often with very special rituals, and to harvest resources sustainably. I think this is another indication that we are not “born specieist”.
We may choose to eat certain animals, but those we do should be treated with dignity and we should be very thankful. I think the movement toward “Less Meat, Better Meat” can help do that if we keep pushing for high animal welfare and for ensuring that good quality fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts are readily accessible to everyone. Meat would be more expensive, but should be considered less as a staple as a supplement to our diets. If governments have the courage to enact measures like this, against opposition which there inevitably will be, then social and personal attitudes will slowly shift. We also should be making sure that everyone has experience of growing food, learning to prepare meals, and visiting farms that are raising animals sustainably, perhaps by twinning every school with a farm.