Eating Animals

He says that eating meat required “willful forgetting.” I think this is a well phrased insight in to the physiology of many meat eaters. Some are ignorant to the negative repercussions of eating meat, but many others are aware and do it anyway perhaps they believe that there small contribution is insignificant (tragedy of the commons) or they could be unable to imagine how such large scale issues are effected by their small scale tangible actions or maybe people are just selfish. The author was a vegetarian because it was unique at first, then later developed higher motivations. I would guess the majority of human action takes place with out regard for intangible repercussions, cause and effect or some higher sense of morality.

I have been a vegetarian sympathizer for most of my thinking life. It makes a lot of sense. I have also been hunting because I feel if I am going to eat meat I have to be comfortable with the very real reality of a animal dieting at my hands. While I have never eaten dog meat I would be perfectly comfortable doing so. This surprises some people, but it is so logical. The author talks about how pigs are every bit as intelligent as dogs and have just as much capacity for experience. Its only cultural norms that prevent us from eating dog meat instead. It doesn’t make much sense to be uncomfortable with a dog being killed for its meat but eat other kinds of meat yourself, not that we must make sense.

The author points out a U of Chicago study that found that our food choices contribute at least as much as our transportation choices to global warming. The livestock sector releases about 40% more greenhouse gases than the transportation sector. I did not realize how big of a problem this is. Our eating of meat is actually one of our biggest environmental problems in terms of climate change, land degradation, air pollution, water shortage and pollution and loss of biodiversity according to a UN report.

The author calls the long held belief that animals want to be domesticated the “myth of consent.” Sense the Israelites people have told them selves and others that animals want to be domesticated and that domestication represents a fair deal for them. This myth seems to have arisen in different cultures independently leading me to believe that its a human trait to react to ones own ignoble behavior with intuitive but fallacious justification capable of tricking even ones self.

“Rationally, factory farming is so obviously wrong, in so many ways. I’ve yet to find a credible defense of it. But food is not rational. Food is culture, habit and identity…. Responding to the factory farm calls for a capacity to care that dwells beyond information, and beyond the oppositions of desire and reason, fact and myth, and even human and animal….The question of eating animals is ultimately driven by our intuitions about what it means to reach an ideal we have named, perhaps incorrectly, ‘being human.'”

These are quotes strung together from one my favorite passages in the book on page 264. The author first points out our resistance to logic when making food choices having already outlined the determents of this behavior. He then proposes that its not logic thats needed to solve the problem, but instead a capacity to care lying in the realm of emotion and experience and not logic. The section ends with the author suggesting that it is ideas about what we think it means to be human that drive our consumption of meat. Perhaps we incorrectly, egotisticly and implicitly see being human as sitting atop the food chain and ruling mercilessly.

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