Companion Vs. Other Animals
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Companion Vs. Other Animals
Comments by Laurie - 4 Aug 2007

While we're thinking out loud on this (and other related threads), no not all animals are carnivores. And most of those who eat meat are not carnivores, but omnivores. The big cats are the only true carnivores in the wild - eating nothing but meat, and only consuming carbs if the carbs are in the animal they're eating. Bears are omnivores, for example, eating not just meat and fish, but vegetation/fruit as well. Just like dogs. And raccoons. House cats have seen a steep rise in the rates of feline diabetes due to not eating a nearly completely carnivorous diet, and because people leave out dry food for convenience, which has too many carbs for them - at this time, 2 out of 10 cats become diabetic. But by and large, most animals are either vegetarian or omnivorous, the latter meaning they eat a little of everything, in percentages affected by their location and conditions in that place. I'm not trying to spur a "what to feed your pets" debate here, just clarifying some information on what animals eat.

NOW. as for where to draw lines in what we humans eat and don't eat, my rule of thumb, and it's not one I'm necessarily espousing here or throwing out to make those whose lines are in a different place or drawn more flexibly feel bad, is that if the creature can feel pain or fear, even in the most rudimentary "I'm feeling threatened here, so I'm running" sort of way (thinking now of the ants on my porch (who I believe are setting up a large ant city under it), who scurry even faster if a person or one of my cats is approaching)), I don't want to kill them or see anyone else do so. A very moving line in a slaughterhouse video I once saw was, and I'm nearly quoting it perfectly, "Why shouldn't we kill them? Because they don't want to die." The line is accompanied by footage of a pig running and screaming, trying to get away from the chute that some minimum-wage-earning louts with clubs and pointy sticks are trying to get it to run down (to be slaughtered at the end). Some would consider it a stretch to compare that pig's desire to live to the ants scurrying on my floor, or to the shrimp running away when the net-full of them is released on board a ship, but I figure if it runs away from the thing that's going to kill it - be it a person with a device/weapon or some condition (like being out of the water, for fish and other sea life, where suffocation will result) - I don't want to be the one killing it or by my demands for food or other products, requiring someone else to do so. I figure if I can choose what to eat, and if I can live quite healthily without eating any creature, I should use that ability to choose and choose not to cause fear or pain. That's all there is to it for me.

Now, some people have an "I don't eat anything with a face" rule, which they don't extend to animals' whose "faces" don't consist of eyes, nose, and mouth. Some people have a "Don't eat anything with feet" rule, which makes fish OK, and my favorite is "If I couldn't kill it, I won't eat it." As someone who feels real guilt if I do kill a bug (even accidentally), I know there's no living creature I could kill to eat it. Some might challenge me and say that if I was starving in the wild, I'd certainly grab some catch-able wildlife and rip it apart for the meat, but I can say, with as much surety as I can muster about anything, that I'd sooner die than do that. I simply - and this audience may be the least receptive to this statement - do not think MY life - or any human's - is worth taking another creature's life - and certainly not an innocent creature whose path I shouldn't have crossed in the first place. To clarify, I would probably use deadly force to protect a family member (or myself) from a person trying to harm or kill them/me, but to take a life for a meal, no. The person wielding a weapon or assaulting a child is also "asking for it", and is not on the same level as an animal who did nothing to incur my wrath or defensive action. I think "it's him or me" only applies to people, and only to those who are trying to kill or seriously hurt me or someone I care about. Now, would I shoot the bear mauling my husband? If I have a gun, yes. I know I would not stop and try other compassionate means to dissuade the bear - I'd see the love of my life being hurt/killed, and I would instinctively move to stop that. But I also don't go where bears are, and think people should avoid doing so, so that such confrontations are avoided. Why kill an animal for doing what's natural to it? Stay home, where we've carved out virtually wildlife-free zones to live in, and admire wild places from a distance. We don't belong there if we can't be there peacefully. There are places to hike, walk, swim, etc., where bears and other "dangerous" wildlife are rare. If you go to a place with bears and you have something delicious in your backpack, you deserve what you get. Running with the bulls in Pamplona (where the BULLS are the "fish out of water")? I have no sympathy for you if you're trampled or gored. Swimming off the coast of Australia? Sorry about the shark, but you're in HIS yard.

Anyway, some animals eat other animals. Humans do, too, but can choose not to, and can fully understand what their choices entail. So comparing ourselves (ignoring, for now, the compelling aspects of our teeth and digestive tracts) to animals who do eat other animals is, I feel, pointless and generally done only to justify eating meat and causing the terror and abuse that necessarily accompanies the process of procuring that food. Whether you believe that humans are animals or some separate creature for whom animals were created, the ability to choose not to cause any suffering is one that humans should not ignore - and our having done so for millions (or thousands, it's immaterial to this issue) of years is why we're still killing each other.

Just my thoughts.

Laurie

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