Even if this were a sound argument, it would not justify rearing animals in inhumane conditions, and it would only justify hunting wild animals.
It can take a few minutes for prey to die in a predator’s jaws, but the animal at least had a natural life; unconfined, free from boredom, and able to live in family groups.
But, this is not a sound argument: animals kill to survive whereas most humans have no need to do so. Some animals do kill when it is not necessary, but this is because animals cannot understand the moral implications of harming others. Carnivores have evolved to eat other animals. It is a very basic instinct for them. Unlike them, we do not have an uncontrollable urge to chase small animals, and unlike them we can think logically about our actions.
”[It is] alleged . . . that the several species of brutes created to prey upon one another affords a kind of analogy to prove that the human were intended to feed upon them . . . the analogy contended for is extremely lame; since brutes have no power to support themselves by any other means, and since we have; for the whole human species might subsist entirely upon fruits, pulse, herbs and roots, as many tribes of Hindus actually do.”—William Paley
(This quote, written 218 years ago in 1785, refutes what is still the most common defence of meat-eating; and shows awareness that humans can live on a completely vegetarian diet – something that many people even today are ignorant of or don’t want to accept).
Just because other animals do something does not mean that we should do it! If another animal jumped off a cliff, would you?
Many animals eat their young at times too, does this mean that we should? Many animals eat humans if given the chance, does this mean that we should do it? Some humans eat humans, does this mean that we should eat them?
“I hold flesh-food to be unsuited to our species.
We err in copying the lower animal world – if we are superior to it.”—Mahatma Gandhi
In any case, many animals are vegetarian. Why should we take our example from the carnivorous or omnivorous one? Our closest relatives are vegetarian or almost vegetarian (gorillas and orangutans are vegetarians, and chimpanzees eat a small amount of meat – estimated as about 2% of their diet or about the size of a pea a day), and I can’t think of any common Western farm animals that hunt other animals. You can’t say “it’s OK to eat a cow, because cows hunt other animals”.