Furthermore, I would suggest not only that it is permissible for those who care about animals to eat meat; they have a duty to do so. If meat-eating should ever become confined to those who do not care about animal suffering then compassionate farming would cease. All animals would be kept in battery conditions and the righteous vegetarians would exert no economic pressure on farmers to change their ways. Where there are conscientious carnivores, however, there is a motive to raise animals kindly. And conscientious carnivores can show their depraved contemporaries that it is possible to ease one’s conscience by spending more on one’s meat. Bit by bit the news would get around, that there is a right and a wrong way to eat; and—failing some coup d’état by censorious vegetarians—the process would be set in motion, that would bring battery farming to an end. Duty requires us, therefore, to eat our friends.
I'm definitely carnivorous (technically, I'm omnivorous), but I'm also an animal lover, so this idea appealed to me. My first thought against it, however, is that Scruton limits the possible influence "righteous vegetarians" could have on farmers to economic pressure. But surely they could exert other kinds of pressure that would have an influence on cruel farming practices. My second thought against it is this argument would apply equally to cannibalism: if the only people who eat members of ethnic group A are those who care nothing of their suffering, then there will be no motivation to minimize such suffering. If we really care about ethnic group A, "duty requires us, therefore, to eat our friends." Of course, one could get around this by adding more to the equation: human beings are not merely animals; we have other motivations for eating animals than simply reducing their suffering; etc. But by itself, the quoted argument strikes me as insufficient. Of course, there's a whole book surrounding it, so maybe I should read it instead of pass judgment on it.