All Flesh Is the Product of Cruelty and Exploitation
It is shocking to hear that folks who
acquired meat from pig farmer and alleged serial killer Robert Pickton may
have ingested parts of his victims. But it is equally unsettling that they
didn't notice. To the taste buds, it seems, flesh is flesh. This tragedy
is just one of many recent incidents in North America that should make us
rethink our carnivorous ways.
Both Canada and the U.S. have had
their first cases of mad cow disease. As a result, we saw news footage of
downer cows, too sick to walk, being dragged by chains into
slaughterhouses. Press coverage of avian flu outbreaks, such as the one
just announced in British Columbia, revealed the intensely overcrowded
conditions of chickens on factory farms-tens of thousands of animals
cooped up in their own filth, each with less space than a standard sheet
of paper. Besides being warned of health risks, consumers are finally
learning about some of the cruelties endured by the animals they know only
as roasts or drumsticks.
Pigs, like cows and chickens, are
capable of experiencing joy, affection, and pleasure. However, on hog
farms, they are treated like unfeeling machines, confined in tiny stalls
and fed growth-accelerating drugs that often cause lameness. Their teeth
are cut with pliers, and their tails are cut off-without anesthetic. At
the slaughterhouse, they are hung upside down and bled to death-often
while they are fully conscious. Whether flesh comes from the victim of a
serial killer or from a pig, a cow, or a chicken, it is the product of
cruelty toward a thinking, feeling being who experiences pain and fear and
wants to live free of exploitation.
In light of all this, why are people
still eating meat? One common answer goes something like this: "I'm a
human-a superior being-therefore, I have a right to it." But a sense of
entitlement is one of the trademark rationalizations that serial killers
use to justify their wrongdoings, and grandiosity is also symptomatic of
psychopathy, according to Canadian psychologist and author of Without
Conscience: The Disturbing World of the Psychopaths Among Us, Robert D.
Hare, Ph.D. Other symptoms outlined on Dr. Hare's "psychopathic
checklist," such as shallow emotions and a lack of empathy or remorse, aid
the killer-or meat-eater-in disregarding the suffering of his or her
Psychopathic serial killers objectify
their victims and consider their victims' self-interests insignificant.
The same rationale is called into play when one thinks of pigs only as
"pork," cows as "cattle," or chickens as "poultry," without thought of the
individuals or their suffering.
It is never too late to examine our
actions and re-evaluate our food choices accordingly. By respecting the
interests of all sentient beings, we are not akin to the conscienceless
killers that plague our society. The only way to ensure that you are not
supporting grotesque violence and cruelty against animals, or benefiting
from their suffering, is to adopt a plant-based diet.