Upon choosing a healthier more compassionate diet, you will be challenged by those who have not yet taken that step, to defend your decision to not eat animals. They will argue that your animal-free diet contradicts your other animal using behaviors, thus making the issue of killing animals not worthy of consideration. They will point to your leather shoes, your wool sweater, your prescription drugs in a capsule, and the operation you may have had at some point in your life, which was the result of animal experimentation. They will look closely at what you eat, laying in waiting, ready to pounce, should you inadvertently or advertently consume any semblance of an animal product.
They will present you with a myriad of arguments: We slaughter animals because we raise them for slaughter; we’re at the top of the food chain; they don’t contribute to society; God gave us permission; they taste good; we’ve always done it; everyone else does it; men developed large arm muscles with which to hunt; we developed canine teeth with which to tear flesh; animals kill each other; it’s a matter of survival; we’re superior; plants scream when pulled from the ground; they’re dumb; they can’t feel pain or fright; they would otherwise suffer from overpopulation and starvation, all the while keeping you on the defensive, in order that you not offend – them and their right to consume animals.
What gives us the right to raise anyone for slaughter? An animal in captivity has the same capacity to feel pain, fright, and loneliness as an animal who is free. The only difference is that one gets a death sentence before s/he is born, and subsequently suffers accordingly. I suppose that being at the top of the food chain is not a bad place to be, unless we’re ever invaded by aliens who have a penchant for humans. My guess is that we’d get rid of that “next down balance of nature” theory real quick.
One cannot measure contribution, however, if one could, animals would be categorized as contributing a great deal to any society. However, animals do not exist on this planet for the benefit of humans; they exist for their own benefit. And I sure would like to meet the person God told that we could use the animals as we saw fit. Since when did the word dominion come to mean use, abuse and destroy? Humans wrote the bible. Where God’s inspiration left off and their self-serving motives began is a little unclear.
If we happen to be stronger than some animals, that in itself does not give us the right to use and abuse them. Nothing gives us that right. As far as tasting good, so might we. But we don’t do it, because we know that it is wrong. So whether we like it or not, rightness and wrongness is at issue here. If a woman has always battered her children, does that make it right? Of course not. If we continued to do everything we’ve always done just because we’ve always done it we’d never progress. The effort to civilize must continue.
…and who says a couple of billion of people can’t be wrong? Of course they can. The majority is not always right. If we did everything our neighbors did, we would be slaves to their desires, and our destinies would be in their hands.
Why men developed stronger musculature than women, nobody really knows; they can only conjecture. However, if men’s muscle development were contingent upon the amount of food they brought home from their hunts, they never would have developed, since 80% of all food gathered was close to home in the form of nuts and berries, by women who carried large baskets as well as children for hours at a time while they walked and worked. So, if hard labor was the precipitating factor in developing high levels of testosterone in men, thus giving them strong muscles with which to kill animals, then women would have developed high levels of this hormone as well, which they didn’t. Be that as it may, men’s arm muscles were used for a lot more than pulling strings on bows and arrows. And about these so-called canine teeth: these teeth are needed to open nuts, tear stalks, peel fruit and eat vegetables. I do not tear flesh, but consider these teeth important to the enjoyment of my food.
All other animals do not kill each other to eat. In fact, most animals are vegetarians. But regardless of whether an animal or human kills another, that does not give us the right to do it. Why do what somebody else does when you know the pain and suffering those actions cause? Our judgments regarding what’s necessary for survival are biased by our own desires, habits, and previous as well as on-going conditioning by our parents, our peers, the medical profession, scientists for hire, and advertising campaigns designed by companies that want you to buy their products. If eating animals was such a cure all for what ails us, there wouldn’t be so many hospitals and nursing homes filled with sick people. Eating animals hinders our health by injecting too much saturated fat, protein and salt into our systems.
Superiority is always bad for the ones marked inferior, whether it be an ethnic group, a race, a religious group, an age group, a sex, a socioeconomic group, the homeless, the handicapped, the unemployed, anyone with an IQ below 120, anyone who challenges the status quo. The perception of being superior gives no one authority over another’s life. We all witnessed, in some way, the systematic slaughter of millions of humans initiated solely by the erroneous assumption of superiority of one ethnic group over another. This is what we as humans are doing to the animals–with impunity.
…but to go so far as to claim that plants scream when pulled from the ground and use this to justify the continuation of slaughter, leaves those of us with compassionate minds no room for compassionate choices – a clever tactic from the crafty minds of those who profit from our consumption of their products. All movement makes sound. When magnified thousands of times, even something as harmless as plucking a hair from your own head, will sound pretty horrifying.
I’m sure you don’t really believe that those who can’t take intelligence tests designed for humans (or even humans who score low on such tests) are not intelligent. Animals are aware, can solve problems, use tools, communicate with each other and humans, etc. I have three dogs who have not been trained through fear to submit to my will, and their intelligence levels continue to enlighten me. The way they manipulate their environment is astounding. But even if they (or anyone else) were not as intelligent as another, that does not give us the right to hurt them. And if you think that animals can’t feel pain, then think again. When an animal is injured and squeals, why do you think they are squealing? Because they feel good? Of course not. They squeal because they hurt – just as you would. Animals do not always let you know that they are hurting – just as humans don’t. But people will assuage their consciences by telling themselves that the animals cannot feel the abuses committed against them. So why don’t they run from their aggressors? Because animals are trusting creatures – as are humans. However, the fault doesn’t lie in trusting – the fault lies in the self-serving minds of those who abuse power – for whatever reason or to whatever end.
What takes the cake are the hunters who stuff the heads of their prey and hang them on their office walls, all in the name of compassion. This concept of killing those we perceive as suffering is a frightening one. Why not go into the forests with food and medical supplies instead of guns? What will they do next, go into China, India, Africa, and solve their overpopulation and starvation problems with bullets? If I dare speak for the animals, I think they’d rather take their chances with nature. I know I would. But starvation of humans or animals need not exist anywhere on this planet. There is plenty of food to go around. Once again, the problem lies in the crafty minds of those who abuse power – for their own selfish end. But to get back to the hunters – they hunt for the thrill of killing – nothing more. Anything else they derive from the sport can be accomplished on a picnic in the woods.
My final response to the accusation that my animal-free diet contradicts my other animal using behaviors, is simply that I didn’t create this pervasive multi-billion dollar animal abusing industry. The mass abuse (and killing is abuse) of animals by humans was not created overnight and it won’t be eliminated all at once. But I recognize the situation as unacceptable, and I’m doing something about it. I believe that change is possible, and through changing ourselves, we change the world. We have to start somewhere, so I’m starting with my diet (the meat went first, then the eggs, then dairy – and none of these went all at once). The leather shoes will go next, then the wool. All the while, new animal-free products will replace the old. And, new more effective research will be developed eliminating the use of animals in scientific experiments. I see the future as bright, and I’m doing my share, one step at a time, to make this a healthier more civilized planet for all of God’s creatures. However, as long as killing animals remains socially acceptable, you will be expected to defend your choice not to participate–and in my case, it is my pleasure to do that!
Cooking and eating animal-free takes us a step further along the path of civilization and your first step, no matter how small or faltering, contributes to the direction of this process. There is no contradiction here!
God bless you,
Sharon Lee Davies-Tight, the animal-free chef