Sit back, this is going to be a long one. This is one of the main things I think about and for some reason I've been thinking about this a lot lately. I've gotten a couple emails about it and I've recently watched "Peaceable Kingdom" and then this past Friday night I went to a screening of "The Witness" which was made by the same people who made "Peaceable Kingdom".
Maybe to start off I'll paste some parts of an email I wrote to a friend of mine who wanted to know my thoughts on meat eating and factory farming and whether or not I ate meat - which she was pretty sure I did (I do, in small amounts - from big animals).
"You are absolutely right about my meat eating - I do eat meat and I also feed it to the dogs - and I also sell dehydrated pork liver on my Dogkisser website. But I think my philosophy may be a little bit different than most people - I don't know how I came to it and I don't know if anyone would agree with it, but it makes sense to me so that's how I operate, and it's taken me awhile to rationalize it. And that's all it is, is a rationalization so that I can live with myself. That's all anyone can do, really - figure something out for yourself so that you can live with yourself - some people go all the way - they go vegan and don't consume any products whatsoever and drive themselves absolutely insane - but I decided I couldn't do that so I made some rationalizations.
The #1 rationalization I made is that I don't see any difference between a cow, a pig, or a dog - I see them as being all the same - so to eat a pig isn't any worse or better than eating a dog - so when people freak out about different cultures eating dog meat I don't see the point of that. It's just as bad as us eating cows. It's simply a cultural thing. I've written about it on my blog ad nauseum - if
you're interested in my views about it I can point you to the postings if you'd like.
#2 is that my meat eating is karma based - it takes a lot longer to eat a cow than it does to eat a chicken - so I eat a lot of beef as opposed to eating shrimp which is one sentient being per bite. And I also realize that any meat I consume I'm going to pay the consequences for at some point - and I also make sure that any meat or meat products that I use aren't wasted, are enjoyed thoroughly, I am thankful for, and thank the animal who was sacrificed so that my body could become his graveyard. In a way every animal that I consume becomes a part of me and it really hurts me that he had to die such a painful death.
So because of that I try to buy meat that didn't die too painfully - if you go to the Farmer's Market or to Great Ocean or to the Superstore and buy Organic meat - you can buy meat that's been killed in more of a humane way. But here's a BIG warning - Kosher meat has not been killed humanely. That's been in the news recently. Kosher meat is killed INHUMANELY - so don't buy kosher meat because it sounds like it'd be a good thing.
So I guess what I'm saying is that I AVOID meat, but I do eat it. I don't see any difference between cows, pigs, chickens, dogs, cats, or humans - we're ALL sentient beings who live, feel, hurt, have emotions, love our Mom's - play with our brothers and sisters, wrestle with our partners and fight like hell with people we hate. And when we die we try like fuck to get free and it hurts and we're scared as shit because we don't know what's going on.
The meat that I do eat does not come from factory farms because as you saw in the movie the animals that are there are treated in the most inhumane and unspeakable ways that I can't believe a human could actually live with themself and do that. And what they do to veal cows and chickens in particular is not just almost too much to bear - it's unfathomable that it's actually happening. And yet it is. And you're absolutely right - it's so that we can have $.99 wings and $.99 hamburgers - I'd much rather pay $3 for a hamburger once a week then $.99 for a hamburger everyday if you know what I mean.
Another thing I do is to not use animal products needlessly - like I don't wear leather, and I research which products have been tested on animals - my neurologist wanted to try botox to help my migraines but I found out that every batch of botox is tested on animals before it's sent out so I won't use it. But I don't go totally crazy in that I still wear wool - some animal rights people say that wearing wool is
bad because it comes from sheep which means that animals are enslaved in order to get the materials and those animals are obviously suffering when they're sheared. I don't agree with that. People can go crazy about everything. Peta thinks that we're enslaving our dogs by keeping them as companions. And therefore we shouldn't have them. I certainly feel enslaved by society - what's Peta going to do for me?
Are they going to set me free?
And as well - I'm in the minority in that I think that life is cheap - it must be or else people wouldn't be dying in the millions in the Sudan and Iraq and Sri Lanka and places like that. If it wasn't cheap the world wouldn't let stuff like that happen. So if it's that cheap for humans then it makes sense that we allow so many millions of animals to suffer so horribly. Because of that I don't think we're
going to be able to change anything. All we can do is to tell people one by one what's going on and let them make their own decisions and be as good to the animals around us as we can and treat them like the sentient beings as they are and wish all the other millions of animals - including the ones that we eat - better luck next time. And thank-you for being so tasty. And try to assert the only control you have by buying meat that was raised having a not too bad life and killed in a humane way. The further I go on the less I see wrong with that. And I've read a lot of pro-vegetarian, pro-vegan, animal rights, anti-animal rights stuff and also been in the room when my companion animals have been killed because I made the decision to have them killed (I refuse to use the word euthanize). I have not however,
eaten them afterwards! haha!"
You can't get around the fact that the world is evil and everything we do causes pain. Some people say you shouldn't eat potatoes or any vegetable that comes from below the ground because the act of digging them up can kill bugs! That's how crazy it can get, and I'll bet it can get a lot crazier than that.
I also get angry when people make a scene when there's a little old woman teetering through the mall in her fur coat but they'll let the poseur in his suede floor length Indiana Jones duster coat pass by unnoticed because it's not quite so obvious. I find that to be really hypocritical because they're both made with dead animals, just that one's not quite so furry and cute.
I wear my Dad's old navy coat which is at least 40 years old and the cuff's are made with a really thin line of leather - I can't get around that, but I bet the coat wouldn't have survived otherwise. I am really thankful to that cow and the designer of that coat to have the foresight to put that little touch there so that I can have the privilege to wear something that kept my Dad warm for many years and is now keeping me warm. I don't imagine any coat being warm by an enlisted man now will be keeping his youngest daughter warm in 40 years!
So what am I getting at? I certainly am not proposing that the status quo in the meat industry - that the factory farms are okay. They are not. In my world they are unnnessary because we don't need to have a meat based diet or $.99 hamburgers. But to have some meat is okay. It's okay to have domesticated cattle raised on family farms where they're treated humanely while they're alive and then slaughtered humanely. And then when we eat them we're thankful for their sacrifice. However we do NOT need fur coats, leather coats, leather shoes, botox injections, testing on animals, or 99.9999% of the institutionalized cruelty that's going on today. It's absolutely unnecessary.
Here's some links:
Canadians for Ethical Treatment of Food Animals
Graig Farm Organics Humane Slaughter
Beyond Factory Farming Coalition