By eating meat we share the responsibility of climate change, the destruction of our forests, and the poisoning of our air and water. The simple act of becoming a vegetarian will make a difference in the health of our planet.
People often say that humans have always eaten animals, as if this is a justification for continuing the practice. According to this logic, we should not try to prevent people from murdering other people, since this has also been done since the earliest of times.
Perhaps in the back of our minds we already understand, without all the science I've discussed, that something terribly wrong is happening. Our sustenance now comes from misery. We know that if someone offers to show us a film on how our meat is produced, it will be a horror film. We perhaps know more than we care to admit, keeping it down in the dark places of our memory-- disavowed. When we eat factory-farmed meat we live, literally, on tortured flesh. Increasingly, that tortured flesh is becoming our own.
I can't count the times that upon telling someone I am vegetarian, he or she responded by pointing out an inconsistency in my lifestyle or trying to find a flaw in an argument I never made. (I have often felt that my vegetarianism matters more to such people than it does to me.)
I made the choice to be vegan because I will not eat (or wear, or use) anything that could have an emotional response to its death or captivity. I can well imagine what that must feel like for our non-human friends - the fear, the terror, the pain - and I will not cause such suffering to a fellow living being.
A human body in no way resembles those that were born for ravenousness; it hath no hawk’s bill, no sharp talon, no roughness of teeth, no such strength of stomach or heat of digestion, as can be sufficient to convert or alter such heavy and fleshy fare. But if you will contend that you were born to an inclination to such food as you have now a mind to eat, do you then yourself kill what you would eat. But do it yourself, without the help of a chopping-knife, mallet or axe, as wolves, bears, and lions do, who kill and eat at once. Rend an ox with thy teeth, worry a hog with thy mouth, tear a lamb or a hare in pieces, and fall on and eat it alive as they do. But if thou had rather stay until what thou eat is to become dead, and if thou art loath to force a soul out of its body, why then dost thou against nature eat an animate thing? There is nobody that is willing to eat even a lifeless and a dead thing even as it is; so they boil it, and roast it, and alter it by fire and medicines, as it were, changing and quenching the slaughtered gore with thousands of sweet sauces, that the palate being thereby deceived may admit of such uncouth fare.
Thanksgiving dinner's sad and thankless. Christmas dinner's dark and blue. When you stop and try to see it From the turkey's point of view. Sunday dinner isn't sunny. Easter feasts are just bad luck. When you see it from the viewpoint of a chicken or a duck. Oh how I once loved tuna salad Pork and lobsters, lamb chops too Till I stopped and looked at dinner From the dinner's point of view.
My refusing to eat flesh occasioned an inconveniency, and I was frequently chided for my singularity, but, with this lighter repast, I made the greater progress, for greater clearness of head and quicker comprehension. Flesh eating is unprovoked murder.
Ethically they had arrived at the conclusion that man's supremacy over lower animals meant not that the former should prey upon the latter, but that the higher should protect the lower, and that there should be mutual aid between the two as between man and man. They had also brought out the truth that man eats not for enjoyment but to live.
Elsewhere the paper notes that vegetarians and vegans (including athletes) 'meet and exceed requirements' for protein. And, to render the whole we-should-worry-about-getting-enough-protein-and-therefore-eat-meat idea even more useless, other data suggests that excess animal protein intake is linked with osteoporosis, kidney disease, calcium stones in the urinary tract, and some cancers. Despite some persistent confusion, it is clear that vegetarians and vegans tend to have more optimal protein consumption than omnivores.
Empathy, he once had decided, must be limited to herbivores or anyhow omnivores who could depart from a meat diet. Because, ultimately, the empathic gift blurred the boundaries between hunter and victim, between the successful and the defeated.
Being vegetarian here also means that we do not consume dairy and egg products, because they are products of the meat industry. If we stop consuming, they will stop producing. Only collective awakening can create enough determination for action.
The beef industry has contributed to more American deaths than all the wars of this century, all natural disasters, and all automobile accidents combined. If beef is your idea of "real food for real people" you'd better live real close to a real good hospital.
Needless to say, jamming deformed, drugged, overstressed birds together in a filthy, waste-coated room is not very healthy. Beyond deformities, eye damage, blindness, bacterial infections of bones, slipped vertebrae, paralysis, internal bleeding, anemia, slipped tendons, twisted lower legs and necks, respiratory diseases, and weakened immune systems are frequent and long-standing problems on factory farms.
Humans are the only animals that have children on purpose, keep in touch (or don't), care about birthdays, waste and lose time, brush their teeth, feel nostalgia, scrub stains, have religions and political parties and laws, wear keepsakes, apologize years after an offense, whisper, fear themselves, interpret dreams, hide their genitalia, shave, bury time capsules, and can choose not to eat something for reasons of conscience. The justifications for eating animals and for not eating them are often identical: we are not them.
I have no doubt that it is a part of the destiny of the human race, in its gradual improvement, to leave off eating animals, as surely as savage tribes have left off eating each other when they came in contact with the more civilized.
This isn't animal experimentation, where you an imagine some proportionate good at the other end of the suffering. This is what we feel like eating. Tell me something: Why is taste, the crudest of our sense, exempted from the ethical rules that govern our other sense? If you stop and think about it, it's crazy. Why doesn't a horny person has as strong a claim to raping an animal as a hungry one does to killing and eating it?
This brings me back to the image of Kafka standing before a fish in the Berlin aquarium, a fish on which his gaze fell in a newly found peace after he decided not to eat animals. Kafka recognized that fish as a member of his invisible family- not as his equal, of course, but as another being that was his concern.
I remember one bobcat they had in here - now bobcats are an endangered species in this neck of the woods - they'd caught it somewhere and they must have put that cat through a dozen rounds of burn experiments before they finally determined that it was utterly useless to them. Like an empty beer can. And then you know what they did to it? Claudius was late for a lunch date so rather thanput the destroyed but still breathing animal to sleep, he picked it up by its hind legs and simply smashed its head against a wall repeatedly until it was dead. How can I forget it: I was the one told to clean up the mess. The head dented in. The eyes slowly closing. The once proud claws hanging down, stunned and lifeless, the utter senselessness of it all, and the hate, a hatred that was consummated in me which is as dangerous a hormone, or chemical, or portion of the brain, as any neutron bomb. Except that I didnt know how to explode. I was like a computer without a keyboard, a bird without wings. Roaring inside. I wanted to kill that man. To do unto others what they had done unto me. I was that bobcat, you better believe it.
I wouldn't touch a hot dog unless you put a condom on it! You realize that the job of a hot dog is to use parts of the animal that the Chinese can't figure out how to make into a belt? -timecode 1:11:10