When it comes to eating animals, I’m a moderate.
I’ve never gone out and shot an animal for the sake of gnawing through its tough, gamey-tasting meat (my Michigan citizenship should be revoked), but I’ve also never turned down a tender, juicy cut of meat from an animal that someone else has killed. Meat is just food to me, like vegetables and Pop Tarts.
A lot of my friends have eschewed meat altogether. I’ve become the insensitive guy who brings BBQ meatballs to the party, while the rest of my friends sit around eating algae on a Ritz Cracker (or whatever vegetarians eat). A lot of them say they don’t judge me for eating meat, but I can’t help but worry they go home and hold candlelight vigils for all the cows and pigs I’ve consumed over the years.
A friend recently explained to me why she gave up meat, and she had some thought-provoking reasons. She also seems like a much better and more caring person than I, but most vegetarians have this advantage over meat eaters.
My friend doesn’t like to eat things that have faces. I’d never really thought about a cow’s face while eating a steak, or a chicken’s face while eating a McNugget, but I can see how she could associate human emotional responses with animal faces. I’d never want to kill and eat something that looked happy.
To me, though, cows, chickens and pigs, among other animals, never seem human enough to convey human emotions. I only tend to personify animals I’d consider as pets, like cats, dogs and hamsters, and I’d never eat any of those animals.
My friend also brought up the massive corporate farms that raise multitudes of steroid-infused animals in cramped and hellish conditions for the sake of mass human consumption. Raising animals in such an environment is inhumane, and I can understand avoiding companies that use those methods.
However, I look at factory farms as more of a symptom of our culture’s hyperconsumerism than a reason to stop eating meat. Even if I boycott KFC, millions more will still eat there, unless some sort of governmental intervention occurs. There are also millions of small farmers across America who raise animals in humane conditions, and I try to delude myself into thinking I always eat meat from those farms.
I’m willing to live in my world of cognitive dissonance. I know I’m eating less intelligent life forms, perhaps even ones with some form of sentience, but I keep eating meat, since animals have never asked me to stop eating them.
But I respect my friends who choose to subsist on shrubbery or nuts and berries. Maybe, in the future, they’ll convince a superior alien species not to eat humans.