Animals as Food
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Animals as Food
Comments by Jennifer Bohrman - 5 Jan 2005
Dear Frank & Mary,
Once again, I appreciate your response; however, I can sense that with two letters now, you are avoiding many of my main questions and points of argument against your beliefs and simply refuting my viewpoints without subsequent justification of your own. As I have strived to do so in my previous two letters, I shall not only confront your convictions, but defend my own where you have criticized them. (But please don’t get the wrong idea; I am not trying in any way to demonstrating hostility; in fact, I truly enjoy intelligent debates & always appreciate the opportunity for one—particularly meaningful philosophical ones as this—and hope you feel the same way.)
First of all, I remain in disagreement with your claim that all farm animals used for food production lead miserable, unfair lives. I’ll agree that there are virtually no pleasant factory farms, but many small independently-owned ones have begun to “clean up” the market and are receiving more attention from concerned, educated consumers. Moreover, tighter regulations for commercial farms are being enacted and enforced each year. Sure, the situation is more grave than heartening as of now, but we’re sending the wrong message if we simply outlaw farming and meat-eating. These practices in themselves are not corrupt. It is the unnecessary torture that is criminal, and it is the torture—not the farming nor the meat-eating—that the average person would join in support to proscribe, so let’s focus on that!
Secondly: yes; I do feel vindicated about thanking a dead animal for allowing me to gain nourishment from its flesh. Of course I realize that the animal did not sacrifice itself willingly. No prey animal ever does. How would graciously donating its body be in any way adaptive for a living creature? Natural selection would never allow a "martyr gene" to be expressed in the animal kingdom. But predators kill and eat animals whenever they have the chance, and someone is losing a battle of wills every time this occurs. Predators are never delicate with their prey either. In fact, carnivorous species often seem to find recreational pleasure in torturing their suffering victims. If you've ever owned an outdoor cat, you've probably witnessed such cruelty. Not only domestic cats, but large wild felines as well, will gladly make a sport out of repeatedly tossing their wailing prey into the air, purposefully catching and releasing their fearful, struggling victim as its life-force is slowly, painfully drained. Moreover, many carnivores actually begin to eat their prey long before it has died. Since a very young age, I have been fascinated with predators and have thoroughly researched their behavior over the years. I love wolves and sharks and grizzly bears, but they are not always nice. Believe me, more than occasionally, nature deals harsher fates than those encountered in the most despicable of slaughterhouses.
This being fact, would it be reasonable to assert that the same injustice and heartless brutality of humans tormenting animals lies at the center of the eons-old ritual of predators killing prey? If so, one would necessarily have to accuse the so-called “circle of life”—the very mechanism by which the planet’s host of living organisms is maintained in all its beautiful, dynamic diversity—as inherently flawed, corrupt, evil. One would have to accuse all beings of this Earth as born of that vicious cycle. So where does our divine Creator fit in?
Among all living things, prey animals especially, there will always be the fear of death, but isn’t that just the thing that gives value to life? An aversion to one’s own demise is an ingrained mechanism. This message to the brain to hold onto to mortal existence ensures a species’ continuation. Any animal lacking this basic, crucial instinct meets rapid extinction. Death makes life worth fighting for. Pain turns a lack thereof into pleasure. It is impossible and absurd to attempt to remove pain and suffering from the world. I despise these things just as much as you, but I cannot deny their inevitable necessity.
I will state again: by renouncing any sort of killing of animals, you are assuming a far too radical stance. Not only will you fail to gain the support you’re seeking, but you’re likely to see the world—and nature in particular—as a far more savage & unjust place than it really is. Furthermore, have you thought of what sheer havoc would ensue if we humans suddenly stopped killing animals? If we halted all our butchery, I assure you you’d see animal suffering. Animals would starve, disease would spread. Society would be in turmoil. If we were to stop using animals for food, how now would we feed our dogs and cats? Would our carnivorous pets become vegans along with us? You may claim that vegetarianism is a healthy choice for humans, but surly you cannot justify such a diet for a natural carnivore.
I do not feel at all guilty for eating an animal. In fact, I would much prefer to eat a tortured, dead chicken than swat a pesky housefly. My reasoning? The chicken is dead for a reason—in supporting my life, its existence is now of value and importance. In a way, the chicken has a legacy. A squashed fly? It has been sacrificed for nothing. The killing of a housefly is at most a preventative measure given the rare chance that the insect is carrying a disease. But to kill a fly in this way is as justifiable as slaughtering a chicken for fear it has contracted avian flu. I’m not saying that I get on people for killing bugs either. Insects must be slaughtered with ridiculous frequency so that their prolific populations do not reach unmanageable numbers. But nowhere on your website do you defend the lives of insects, even though they are most certainly among God’s creatures. They’re not cute and fluffy, but they feel too. If you are trying to end the killing of “all-creatures”, then I expect that you’d like to see flypaper, mouse traps, rat poison and insect extermination outlawed.
Some things simply aren’t reasonable. It’s the most admirable thing in the world to fight for a cause, but I think nature itself has become an opponent to your extreme views. No human will ever overcome nature. Instead of struggling with it, we should look to nature for truth, harmony, and purpose.
Jennifer (who’d rather be food for maggots when she dies than be preserved forever in a coffin)
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