To Meat or Not To Meat?
I am not a vegetarian, so a story about a culture where people eat dogs really challenges me. I'm horrified at the thought. But I eat beef. I eat pork. I don't eat horse meat. I'll eat chicken, but wouldn't touch crow. My lines seem totally arbitrary or, at least, culturally determined. I don't eat duck, rabbit or lamb -- for no really defensible reason other than some gut feeling. Who is to say that eating dogs should be off limits if eating animals, in general, is not?
So I'm wondering, can you love and work for animals and still eat them? I think about the work of Temple Grandin, who is not a vegetarian, but has done much to improve conditions for animals, particularly livestock. I'd like to hear from BARk readers about how you answer this central question. If you eat meat, have you considered it a conflict? If you are a vegetarian, has your relationship with a companion animal played a role in that decision?
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And I would like to give KUDOS to those of you who left comments and are vegetarians/vegans who still respect MY RIGHT to eat meat. You guys are making a healthy/ethical choice which I also respect even if I don't choose it for myself. There are so many vegetarians/vegans who are militant about the fact that EVERYBODY must eat no meat, its refreshing to see that that isn't the opinion shared by everybody and there are still people who understand the words "free country!"
Posted by: Ashley | Jul 3, 2008 10:22:01 PM
I suppose I am going to be the opposite to what others have said here....
Absolutely you can love animals and still eat meat. I do, I've even raised my own animals to the table. I have horses, but the thought of eating horse meat does not disgust me. (I'd never be able to eat one of my own, however) I have dogs, I probably wouldn't be able to eat dog, although I'm not totally opposed to it or to others doing it. The only difference between companion animals and livestock animals are the lines this culture has drawn, the average predator doesn't differentiate between the two. I may know that that tasty steak on my plate came from an animal that was a "cute little helpless calf" at one point in its life" but I feel better knowing that that animal had a purpose, and the purpose is to supply me with needed energy and nutrients for life. (Circle of Life, anyone?)
We are however, smarted than the average predator and must act accordingly. Eating an animal you raised for the specific purpose of food is reassuring. Not only do you know of any medications the animal may have received, but you have the satisfaction of knowing that animal was treated humanely and with respect and was dispatched for consumption in the same manner with no suffering in any portion of its life. You have the opportunity to make sure that its life was not wasted and all parts of the animal are used.
There is no reason you can't love your animals and have respect for all animals and still enjoy meat. They were put here for our use, and as long as we are responsible with our use of them (raised in clean, humane, comfortable conditions and not allowed to suffer) there is no reason we shouldn't eat them. After all we did evolve as predators, and do you think that lion makes sure the gazelle he kills doesn't suffer?
Posted by: Ashley | Jul 3, 2008 10:16:33 PM
Just two months ago I decided to become a vegetarian because of my dog. I just can't justify eating animals when it is plain as day that they are soulful creatures, something that I have always known but was reinforced through my relationship with my pup. I couldn't imagine inflicting pain on him or ending his life for my benefit, and that extended out to all animals through my food choices.
It is a strange paradox, though, knowing that he himself is a meat-eater, and that other animals had to die in order for me to feed him. While I have made the choice to be vegetarian and take away my contribution to any suffering and death of animals, I will not condemn anyone who chooses to eat meat.
Posted by: Andrea | May 27, 2008 12:52:29 PM
thanks for bloging on this
Posted by: gidget gormley | May 18, 2008 3:52:52 PM
Philosopher Tom Regan http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tom_Regan said in the documentary 'A Cow at My Table' http://www.goodknights.org/abbott/ "If I knew you, I wouldn't eat you." That about sums it up for me.
Posted by: anji | May 16, 2008 11:36:14 AM
Thanks for asking such a thought-provoking question. Living with dogs definitely changed me. I saw a bumper sticker that said, "If you love animals called pets, why do you eat animals called dinner?". I realized how hypocritical my food choices were and have been vegan for the past nine years. It's an easy choice since it's a compassionate decision, much better for the environment, and so much healthier, too. Cows, chickens, pigs, and fish, have emotions and feel pain just like our loving cats and dogs do. And I would never eat my dogs! Wonderful organizations such as Farm Sanctuary (www.farmsanctuary.org) rescue animals who are going to be eaten and let them live out their lives naturally. Give the veg diet a chance and see how you feel . . . the animals will thank you and you will feel better than ever (physically and emotionally)!
Posted by: Michelle | May 15, 2008 4:38:11 PM
I have recently become a vegetarian mostly in part due to my 2 baby dachshunds (also because I saw a segment that PETA had on TV). I have also taken it to the next step to donate and become involved with associations that benefit the humane treatment on animals (call me crazy, but they're pretty amazing creatures).
Posted by: Jennifer | May 13, 2008 10:20:48 AM
I'm hypocritical since I'll eat meat in dishes prepared for me at a restaurant, but I don't usually like to cook bloody meat at home. If I am going to cook meat, I buy the meat from kind people at a farmers market who I believe treat their animals kindly.
Living with dogs throughout my life has definitely made me think about the feelings of other creatures. I wouldn't ask my carnivore dog to become a vegetarian, however, and I'm sure I make a conscious effort not to think about the creatures who were killed to be put in a can for my dog.
Posted by: Mary | May 12, 2008 7:56:14 PM
I became a vegan two years ago, largely as a function of my close relationship with my animals and after reading Dominion by Matthew Sculley. My eyes were opened.
Posted by: Rick Roberts | May 12, 2008 1:30:47 PM
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