“The animals of the world exist for their own reasons. They were not made for humans any more than black people were made for white, or women created for men.” ~Alice Walker
Eating meat is something many cultures have done for thousands of generations. It is something so ingrained in our lives that we seldom stop to think about what exactly it is that we are eating. We know to some extent that it comes from an animal from some distant place, slaughtered by some unknown hand but we rarely make the effort to see who is behind all of this. Who are these animals whose flesh we have consumed for so long?
It’s hard to feel empathy for someone whose suffering you cannot see and hear. So instead we convince ourselves that the flesh we are eating comes from the best possible situation a farm animal can be in and that all the videos and stories people talk about are exceptions to the rule. No one wants to feel that they are cruel or that they lack compassion. In fact when asked, most people consider themselves animal lovers. But most people also eat meat. Why do we eat one animal and embrace another? It’s time we face our guilt and finally meet these unfortunate souls, whose lives we take to satisfy our craving for their flesh. It’s time we open our minds and look into the eyes of the beings that we are paying to be murdered.
When humans began consuming meat, it arose out of necessity. Primarily plant-eaters, humans developed the ability to digest meat as a way to survive in times when plants were scarce. Meat was never an everyday occurrence, rather, it was a rarity.
Today, it’s hard to imagine the animals we know as “food” as anything but. We have forgotten our oneness with the creatures that share this planet with us. We have forgotten that we are connected to every living being on this earth. Today, when we kill animals for meat there is no hunt and no necessity. Instead there is rampant objectification and apathy.
What fuels our craving for meat isn’t our need to survive. Today, our craving for meat is fueled only by our gluttony. We enjoy the flavors, the textures of meat. We no longer need it to fill our stomachs aid in our survival. We enjoy it so much and feel so entitled to it, that we kill so that we can have it. We kill nearly 60,000,000,000 animals (sixty billion – not including the billions of fish) each year to satisfy this oral fixation. Isn’t it time we started thinking with our brains instead of our mouths?
Let’s imagine for one moment that instead of animals being raised and killed on factory farms and slaughterhouses, that it is humans instead.
Instead of a cow that is hooked up to a milking machine, there is a human woman, while her newborn baby is chained in a crate and fed a formula while someone else drinks the milk that should be feeding her.
Instead of a pig hoisted up by one leg with blood gushing from his neck, it is a human who is killed, gutted, chopped up and wrapped in shrink-wrap.
Instead of thousands of animals crammed on feedlots, there are thousands of humans, walking, laying and dying in their own waste.
This would be called a genocide — a holocaust. The people in charge would be called evil; their acts — torture and murder. But because this is happening to animals who are not humans, it is seen as “farming”, “the circle of life” and worst of all, “normal”.
Our treatment of non-human life on this planet shows our complete lack of respect for anyone and everyone that we view as being beneath us — who we stubbornly believe was given to us by God, for us to rule over. Just as the misogynist feels the right to rule over women, and the white supremacist feels the right to rule over blacks, we humans — we speciesists — feel the right to rule over animals.
Maybe if we stopped and really looked at these problems and how many parallels there are between them, we would actually be able to live in a world where there is no sexism, no racism, no homophobism, no suffering, no hatred, no greed and no cruelty.
To argue that exploiting animals is morally correct simply because it is the way things are, does nothing for one’s argument. It wasn’t so long ago that women were treated as second-class citizens, without the right to vote, work or be dependent on anyone but a man. It wasn’t so long ago that black people were thought to have no soul and were chained, confined, and forced to work so those in power didn’t have to.
If the activists that fought to end these mass sufferings believed in preserving the status quo, we would be living in a world where racism, segregation, slavery, misogyny and rape are normal, acceptable practices. I can only imagine some distant future, in which people will look back at our generation and the ones before us and gag at the mere thought of eating and abusing animals as we so often do today.
Our mass-produced murder is the chief cause of so many ailments of society it’s almost tragically comedic.
People drive around in hybrid cars, take showers with low-flow shower heads, use energy efficient lightbulbs, and then sit at their dinner table to feast off of an animal’s decomposing carcass without bothering to think about the hundreds of thousands of acres of rainforest being cut down to make room for crops to feed livestock (which, if it was instead used to feed humans, would be able to put an end to world hunger today), or the 2,500 gallons of freshwater it takes to produce just one pound of beef, or how 19% of all global greenhouse gas emissions come directly from livestock.
They don’t see or acknowledge that which is obvious, simply because it is inconvenient. It is much easier to buy a new car, new lightbulbs and new toilets than it is to change ones entire diet – the way one experiences food.
If we are ever to make progress with animal rights, environmentalism, sexism, racism and many other issues, we must first realize that meat is the cornerstone of our apathy toward the plight of all those who are affected by such problems. The exploitation of animal’s bodies started with meat thousands of years ago and has grown to encompass so many other tortures. It’s amazing that our species has had the capacity to imagine and invent them all.
In order for all of the suffering of this world to end, and certainly for all of animal suffering to end, we must first end the production and consumption of meat. Once that happens, it will create a domino effect across all other abuses including dairy, eggs, vivisection, fur, leather, animals used for entertainment, animals hunted for “sport”, racism, sexism, abuses toward the environment, world hunger and so many other issues that plague our society today.
Be an activist. Reject the status quo. LIVE VEGAN.
More Ways to Make a Difference
Going meat-free is great for animals, your health, and the health of the environment. Here are some more ways to maximize your impact and be ethically consistent: