Deep ecology is a philosophy that states one may only harm others in order to serve vital needs.
A deep ecologist would say it’s acceptable to kill a plant or animal in order to eat it. It would also be okay to kill a bear that’s trying to eat you. Killing a bear for a hunting trophy, however, would not be seen as ethical.
This philosophy has existed for thousands of years in cultures around the world, and is part of how those cultures were able to live sustainably. It was reformulated in the 1970’s and became known as deep ecology.
Deep ecology points out that functioning natural areas are valuable because they provide ecosystem services. However, it cautions against using this as the basis for protecting nature: if feasible artificial substitutes for ecosystem services became available, we would be free to take as many resources from nature as we wished. Instead, deep ecology advocates seeing nature as inherently valuable, or as having the inherent right to its own existence. To respect these rights, people should take from nature only what is necessary for their own survival.