By Daniel K. Vegan on VeganSoapbox.com
In an attempt to defend meat-eating, there are those who say it’s perfectly natural for us to kill and consume other animals, and since we’re at the top of the food chain, everything and anything (or anyone) is on the menu.
These people often cite lions, tigers and bears (oh my) to back up their beliefs that humans are supposed to eat flesh, because other animals eat flesh. I can see where they’re coming from because I thought the very same thing when I was very young.
“Bears are omnivores and so are we,” I once told my then vegetarian sister. “Get the bears to stop eating meat and I’ll stop eating meat.” I thought I was so clever!
Lions kill antelopes, wolves kill deer and bears kill fish. They’re animals and we’re animals. So what’s the big deal? What’s the difference?
The difference is we are not lions, wolves or bears. We’re human beings: a different kind of animal; a MORAL animal. Lions and other carnivores don’t have morals, nor do they have a choice. If they don’t kill other animals they’ll die. They can’t survive on fruits, grains and vegetables. It’s the same for omnivores. But we can. We have other options.
Maybe once, a long time ago, we had to eat animals to survive (humans also ate other humans NOT so long ago) but we’ve learned so much since then. Today we work with lasers, communicate instantly with people on the other side of the planet and send robots to other planets. We’re in the 21st century now, not the Stone Age. We don’t need to eat animals anymore.
Some readers might say: “Yes, but we’re omnivores too!” Are we? I’m not so sure. Our physiology seems to indicate we are not, and the health implications (not to mention the environmental consequences) of consuming animal products suggest it would be wiser for all of us if we gave up meat.
And just because we can do something, like eating someone else’s flesh, doesn’t mean we should. Our bodies can also handle cocaine, heroine and crystal meth in moderate amounts, but I don’t know anyone promoting widespread psychoactive drug use.
So meat advocates can use predators to try and make their meat-eating arguments if they like but I’m more inspired by the gorillas, elephants and rhinoceroses. These amazing animals are just as strong as lions (if not stronger) and they’re all vegans. They manage to survive without killing and eating the bodies of other animals and they do just fine.
But I don’t object to predatory animals killing other animals (even though I feel bad for the victims) because, as I wrote earlier, they have no choice; it’s either do or die. Humans on the other hand do have a choice. And that’s what it all comes down to: a moral choice.
We know that killing, unless absolutely necessary, is wrong. We also know that causing unnecessary suffering to others is cruel. That’s why we have laws. If we didn’t, society couldn’t function. So we’re taught from an early age about right and wrong, do unto others, and so on for the betterment of society and the good of its members.
We’re praised when we perform acts of kindness and punished when we commit acts of violence. We’re also encouraged to work together to strengthen our communities, protect the weak and vulnerable, and help the sick and elderly. We don’t live by the law of the jungle because we don’t live in the jungle.
We can’t be part of a moral community, and reap the benefits of that community on one hand, and then justify killing and eating animals “because other animals do it.” There are no rules in nature; it’s survival of the fittest. But WE don’t live like that. If we did, there would be no law enforcement agencies, no hospitals, no charitable organizations, no social services, no mercy and no compassion.
If you want to reject civilized society and all its rules, living “red in claw and tooth” and killing what you eat go right ahead. But leave behind all the protections and benefits that come from living in a civilized society, including all those fancy gadgets. Wild animals don’t have cars, kerosene generators or high-powered rifles and neither should you.
Either we live like human beings, and accept all the rights and responsibilities that come with that, or we live like animals. It’s one or the other. We can’t have it both ways.