The fact that many (most) people continue to eat meat means that people resolve the dilemma - they not be aware of the issue, consider it less significant, consider eating meat more important, etc.
The distance from the details of animal husbandry probably helps a lot. If I had to personally kill and clean all my meat, I'd either stop eating it or I'd get a lot more comfortable with the process. Then again, I have relatives who raise farm animals and others who hunt - distance from the process is not required.
I think there are other "paradoxes" that people are missing. For example, most people feel that Nestle is a pretty evil company (especially in the developing world). However, some of the same people who hate meat eaters have no problem enjoying the Gerber, Blue Bottle Coffee, Perrier, San Pellegrino, Butterfinger, Nerds, Hot Pockets, Carnation, and Purina products they produce and sell. Who is to say which is the worst moral decision? We all hate that FB and Google are stealing our data and using it against us at the same time we enjoy 20%+ stock market returns in our 401K driven by these same companies. Life is very gray and there are no easy answers.
The ideal killing involves rendering the animal senseless instantaneously.
Check out https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VMqYYXswono for a demonstration of a well-run plant.
Watch any consecutive 10 minutes of that, and let me know if that seems like it doesn't hurt animals. The evidence that industrial scale animal farming is harmful to animals is overwhelming. There should really be no debate about that fact at this point.
There is an incentive to raise them quick, raise them huge, and move them along the whole process as quickly as possible. Those things are generally not conducive with providing a humane life for them.
I agree the ideal killing is instantaneous, but the killing moment is not the only source of pain, and the ideal killing may not be very common. Sometimes we can't even kill humans quickly and painlessly, for example with the several botched lethal injections that took place a few years ago.
That's certainly not necessarily the case. For example, the veal industry used to (perhaps still does - not sure) keep calves in tight cages in which they could not turn or lie down, because the "exercise" would turn their meat an undesirable pink. Likewise, laying eggs is a natural function for hens (like ovulation), so they will do so even when stressed out. The only reason there's some restraint on how many are kept in small areas, on uneven slatted floors, is regulation, not cost savings.
Meat provides such easily prepareable calories, I can't say the same of vegan dishes that I know of, generally a lot more of a thing has to be eaten and multiple things. I enjoy spending 20-30 minutes total consuming food a day and not needing to spend time preparing food, cooking, and cleaning.
Ever hear of tofu? A tofu scramble takes maybe 15 mins to make, and it's actually good for you  rather than causing cancer. 
I have had an Impossible Burger that would be a drop in meat replacement for me if it ever becomes available to buy uncooked.
You can certainly argue that we use them as a euphemism today, but that's not actually how they originated at all.
Any person living in the first world is the beneficiary of an immense amount of human suffering and cruelty, period. There is no way to avoid it short of living a hermetic life in the woods. So why don't you do that? Because society is convenient and nice to live in.
People eat meat because it's delicious. People buy factory-farmed meat because it's cheap and they can use the money they save on something else. People use smartphones and PCs because they're entertaining. It really doesn't seem like a deep question to me at all.
As for why people who live on farms, specifically, would be more likely to eat meat... I suppose people probably become desensitized to it, the same as someone who works in Foxconn would become desensitized to what we would perceive as human suffering.
I dunno, it doesn't really seem that complex an issue to me. Pete Singer is right, the ethical answer is to reduce our suffering footprint as much as we possibly can. But hedonism is so damned pleasurable, that people won't. If you can moderately reduce your suffering footprint in a sustainable fashion, like a diet, by something like veganism then go for it, but you also can't reduce it to zero.
People that lived on a farm, even for small periods of time when they were little, have no such issues.
How does living on a farm remove this issue? Does something about living on a farm make you not feel conflict about wanting to eat meat and at the same time not wanting to kill sentient beings?
I've never lived on a farm but I've seen pig and chicken slaughter in real life. Done by hand. I felt the same before as I did after, I feel that if I have the resources to choose to consume no sentient animal body parts, I have a moral obligation to not eat sentient animal body parts. Still, the ease of energy from meat compared to other foods makes me desire it, along with taste. This paradox is something that bugs me often.
1) Animals on family farms are actually treated pretty well. "Torture" is absolutely not the word for it, though it probably does apply to varieties of factory farming, in effect if not intent.
2) More animals die, in absolute numbers, from plowing fields and harvesting crops than are slaughtered for their meat, mostly because we choose large animals for their meat while small animals like to live in grain fields. The only way to conclude that vegetarianism is more ethical is to discount the lives of smaller, wild animals in comparison to their larger, meat-producing cousins, or else define having habitats and homes destroyed, starving to death, or being snagged on a thresher as more humane treatment than being stunned and having their throat slit after being fed and cared for until adulthood.
In general, living closer to nature shows that death and suffering is unavoidable. Certainly we should strive to minimize suffering, but interruption of a huge source of food for most of the human population is a bad way to go about it.
And your point 2 is discounting the animals that died to produce the food that cows and such eat. Besides, personally not all animals are equal to me. When I drive I squash insects, and if I would hit a dog I would feel worse.
This is a man made concept. Morality in general is man made.
In nature there is a very clear symbiosis between predator and pray. A herbivore population can get out of control if not hunted by predators, and then destroy the environment. Of course, humans are not in any symbiosis, we just consume and produce waste in the process.
So if you want to talk about how we destroy the environment via CAFO operations, then that's a valid worry, but the morality of killing animals for food (something we've been doing since the dawn of men) is just religion.
Thank you for your time to write that out.
I still personally feel that in my position in life, it would be unethical for me to consume meat. Seemingly the amount of animals killed by a plant farm would decrease as time goes on yet a slaughterhouse would continue at least linearly in its pace of killing animals. I do admit that in some way I believe that it is " more ethical is to discount the lives of smaller, wild animals in comparison to their larger, meat-producing cousins" and I know that this is an undefendable position.
I also completely understand that vegan lifestyles are very far removed from the requirements of homesteading or personal farming. It may be impossible to harvest a nutritionally dense enough food in the winter that isn't a living creature.
As a person living where anytime of the year I can buy produce from around the world, I have more freedom to choose what I eat.
I'm interested in your ability to not feel moral turmoil about killing sentient beings. Have you ever struggled with it?
My issues around eating meat are based on the lack of necessity I feel towards it. I don't need to eat meat to survive, my choice to eat meat is a choice to support (in my opinion) murder.
A predator has no choice but to hunt, an eagle cannot decide to stop eating prey and switch to plants, it seemingly lacks the ability for self reflection of it's actions.
Your last sentence "Maybe growing up on a farm taught me the reality of it which I see as normal." The reality you explained of chickens being slaughtered in an instant way is still something I see as unnecessary.
>I'm interested in your ability to not feel moral turmoil about killing sentient beings. Have you ever struggled with it?
I'm 33, grew up fishing with my grandfather but never went hunting until this last fall when I went deer hunting for the first time. My reason for the hunting trip was about 75% because I wanted to eat deer meat, and 25% to get to know myself better - to see if I could do it, basically. Going into it, I didn't know how I might react after killing a deer or whether I would feel conflicted.
I didn't really end up feeling conflicted at all about it. After taking the shot I was running on 100% pure adrenaline. The deer made it about 20 yards after being shot through the heart and lungs, and was dead when I got down from the treestand and located it. Beforehand I had sort of wondered if I'd feel sad, or grossed out, when skinning and butchering it - I didn't, but I felt a couple of other things. The first was hunger - once you peel the skin off and start cutting into the meat, it really, REALLY lights up the primitive parts of your brain that THIS IS FOOD, SO MUCH TASTY FOOD. The other thing I felt was in some way like I was actually a part of nature, like our ancestors who first made the leap from being prey to being themselves predators, rather than apart from nature.
Hope this makes some sense.
I have a feeling there are many things that are desirable and pleasurable, but not morally good.
While I feel it is delicious, I think there a multitude of things which are enjoyable, yet morally wrong.
Thank you for this exchange, I understand your position better and i hope I have helped to elucidate mine.
The point is that I think the question is interesting, and I think you might be allowing yourself to dismiss it too easily in support of a personal identity you feel strongly about.
If today's fried chicken arrived on a plate the same way it did for my grandmother, I probably wouldn't have made the decision to eschew meat about 10 years ago.
In modern small-scale processing, they put the chicken upside-down in a cone and slit the neck to let the chicken bleed out.
The article at no point considers the possibility that moral conflict is an unavoidable part of life, even if there are things we can do to reduce it.
Probably because that's how the vast majority of meat animals are raised.
I have a hard time rationalising my meat eating, but then following through on that train of thought leads me to full on veganism, which is further than I want to go, so I don't.
And I grew up in the country.
What interesting thing about a honey bee or fish deserves protection that isn't true of a fairly young human fetus? And, likewise, what's true of a young fetus that does not apply to a pig or octopus on the pro-life side?
There are clearly religious answers to some of the paradox on all sides of things, but I'm sure not all of us find them convincing.
EDIT: There is probably a more acute detachment/skin-in-the-game distinction to be made in this case, if we can suspend our politics for a moment, which might be asking a lot these days, perhaps.
Expel a human even if it kills the human? That's a tougher sell. And that's always been the problem. Yell as much as you want about "a woman's right to her own body", but there's something there besides her body, something that is 1) still genetically human, 2) genetically different from the mother, and 3) will die if expelled by the methods used. It's not just the woman's body.
I think of it in terms of the Declaration of Independence: "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness". Well here, "life" is at war with "liberty and the pursuit of happiness" in a way where, whichever one wins, the other has to lose.
EDIT: What part of this is getting downvotes? I'm honestly curious for a distinction here.
No offense, seriously, but the analogy seems simplistic to the point where it needs some kind of complete rework to produce an interesting question.
The utility answer resolves some of the tension, but it doesn't address what happens when an animal might have more utility than a human. What about protecting endangered rhinos versus viable fetuses with severe but nonterminal developmental issues?
Not really a rhetorical question, by the way, the Down's Syndrome population is way down and not because we cured Down's Syndrome.
The use of the word "force" is the key word here. Who is doing the forcing? Who should be making the decisions about what happens to the body?
That's the autonomy question.
I'd rightly point out that pacifists don't tend to like people getting hurt, and battery hurts people. You could turn this into a bodily autonomy question and point out that we violate autonomy with seatbelts so why not violate the autonomy of the punched, but that would be missing my point. Pacifists aren't all about bodily autonomy, they're concerned about not hurting people.
Similarly, I'm saying here that vegans should be against forced continuation of pregnancy, regardless of who's doing the forcing or who has control of your bodily autonomy. Vegans are against egg farming regardless of who the farmer is. Who gets to make decisions about the chicken is a different question than whether this particular decision should be allowed.
Note that I'm not making an argument for or against abortion. I'm only pointing out that being pro-choice seems to be more in line with vegan ethics than being anti-choice. I don't think vegan ethics are based on bodily autonomy arguments, so it's weird you that you keep bringing it up. Vegans aren't primarily concerned about bodily autonomy. Their concern is about not hurting animals. Humans are animals too, so vegans shouldn't want women to be hurt regardless of how the government works.
All plants derive from dirt, an animal product of worms.
Does this means vegans ought to starve?
Lots of people have an abortion and then later have children. Their motivation is not to avoid damage but to delay becoming a parent for financial reasons.
I think it takes a particularly skilled mental gymnast to have an abortion for financial reasons and then turn around to say we shouldn't eat honey because we're exploiting the bees.
That is to say, I'm far more sympathetic to an argument from a vegan who also happens to be pro life, as that seems to me like the more consistent position: pro human and pro animal life.
>Lots of people have an abortion and then later have children.
Later? The majority of women who have abortions are already mothers. 
"I don't eat meat or abort fetuses, but I don't want laws or norms saying we can't either." There's no serious ban in meat being discussed.
Raise it yourself or put it up for adoption are the first two options that come to mind if the resulting child is the problem.
C-section or risk popping it out the normal hole are the obvious alternatives if medical complications are the problem.
Personally I don't have a problem with abortion but if you want alternatives then there you are.
What are the alternatives to abortion if the problem is not the child existing but the birthing process?
2. Do nothing and let the thing come out the existing hole knowing full well that one of the side effects may be death of the mother, infant or both.
In this day and age the latter really isn't an option that's seriously on the table but back in the day abortions/c-sections weren't really a thing or were more risky and you couldn't tell in advance if there would be complications so that risk was just accepted.
Edit: FWIW I am pro-choice (since apparently we can't have a discussion about alternatives to abortion without assuming other people's opinions on the issues).
There's countless situations where I could judge someone's behavior as a thing they should never do, even though I'm not in their shoes, but this isn't one of them. If a mother wants to abort, that's just on her! Maybe the suffering of the fetus is tragic, but it's all her choice and I can't really judge her because I'm not her. I accept I can't prevent every bad or possibly bad outcome and end all suffering.
Edit: I appreciate dialog on the specifics of these things. I think people just... assume that because they're all on the same "side" they come to the same beliefs and conclusions from the same reasoning (or that everyone around them has a reasoning to begin with) and that can end up causing huge problems.
Also, abortions weren't really a thing? Are you sure about that? I'm pretty sure it's only recently that abortions were distinctly not a thing.
I shot a deer about 6 weeks back and butchered it myself, and I don't feel any moral conflicts over it. Over those last 6 weeks, though, I've actually eaten far less meat. I haven't bought meat from the supermarket at all, and I've eaten it at restaurants just a handful of times. Most days I eat vegetables, lentils, eggs, beans, etc., and once or twice a week I put on the chef hat and make a fancy venison dish. In comparison, factory farmed meat just isn't all that interesting or appetizing to me anymore.
Let's say you eat 300g of beef a day, every day.
Let's say a full grown cow will give you 300kg of beef.
In order to fuel this habit of pretty intense meat consumption, you have to kill a cow once every three years.
I think for many people, this in itself doesn't strike them as that immoral, especially if the cow lives a pretty chill life.
The harder one is that if you want to do the same with chickens, you've got to pop one once every 3 or 4 days. Given the fact they often live horrible lives, this seems beyond what most people can morally justify.
Then again, if someone would do some unnecessary torture on said animal, starving it, beating it up, then of course I would consider that cruelty and demanded punishment for that.
You've said "if someone would do some unnecessary torture on said animal"; since a person can be vegetarian or vegan, isn't it a reasonable argument to say that any pain inflicted on food animals is unnecessary?
Thus, it benefits us in some way, but we would not suffer greatly if we had fewer/somewhat more expensive eggs. Is it then necessary?
I think morality is just fluid for most people, when we want to do something badly we will take on frameworks of atonement or utilitarianism ("I'll do this thing, but it's ok because of this separate thing cancelling it out") and it's often wrapped up in our own greater inner struggles, not some isolated psychological puzzle box that can be studied. Meat-eating is a worldwide culturally-reinforcing personal struggle of having compassion toward suffering of all things that can suffer. I think part of why pro-animal activists get so derided when they criticize people or behaviors, is because we know that they're trying to heal by force when people need to do it themselves.
Those aren't moral paradoxes, those are just people being hypocrites.
The paradox, as such, is trying to reconcile the genocidal God of the Old Testament with the New Testament, and both with modern morality.
I've watched enough undercover video of factory farms to know that is at least not true 100% of the time. Killing is also not the only possible moment for suffering, for example with gestation crates, battery cages, merely moving livestock around with electric prods and pokers, etc... Treating animals humanely costs money, and in a capitalist system there is always pressure to reduce costs.
A recent documentary came out called Dominion which is about the most comprehensive criticism of factory farm conditions I have seen. It's almost entirely composed of undercover video. You can actually watch the whole thing online:
I sort of hate linking that, because it feels like diet-shilling, but the reason I do so is really pretty basic: I think there is a misconception and that there is video evidence that I think would correct that misconception. I could write everything out, but I think actually seeing the video is more effective. You don't have to commit to watching all of it, just watch a random 10-15 minutes.
But I'd say most of us don't want any living thing, including our dogs and cats, to be poorly treated. And humans fall under that umbrella as well. I wouldn't even treat your personal property poorly, and I don't need to attribute human qualities to your blender to do that.
Harm for harm's same isn't what we're talking about. I may not beat my blender for fun but I'm never going to consider it's feelings because it has none.
For example, what are you referring to with the word "inaccuracy" in your statement? And how do meat-eaters operate?
If you don't know you're alive, how is dying the same?
All human brains are vastly more complex than the next most complex animal brains. We truly are worlds beyond any other species when it comes to intellect.