Warning: Reader Discretion Advised.
Will you eat horse meat? For me this question has no meaning. I became vegan last year, initially out of a desire to get healthier, and then, after witnessing some graphic video of slaughterhouses on ‘candid’ camera, it so sickened me I haven’t been able to consider eating any animals, fish, or other sentient beings since. So the current ‘scandal’ over horse meat turning up disguised as beef does not concern me at all. Neither am I against others choosing to eat meat. What does concerns me is the hideous treatment to which all food animals, horses in particular, are subjected on their way to the dinner plate.
One might be tempted to think that the difference between livestock that is raised for food and animals that are kept as companions or for sport is at the heart of the debate. I believe how we see animals in relation to ourselves is really the crux of the issue. We tend to see animals as chattels that we may keep, use, adore, neglect, mistreat, and ultimately dispose of as and when we see fit. Aside from the fast receding habitat that threatens scores of species of wild creatures, the recent statistics on the wholesale slaughter of elephants for ivory, the taking of whales from legally recognized sanctuaries, the legal yet criminal treatment of animals subjected to use in research, the cast-off foals from premarin mares, sharks mutilated for their fins, and on and on and on are appalling. The price paid by animals that must share this planet with us is staggeringly and criminally high.
I wrote last year about the Cambridge Declaration on Consciousness that was signed in July 2012 by some of the world’ greatest scientific leaders. This document declared in very academic phrases what can be summarized as this: non-human animals and some fish and birds have the ability to think and feel pretty much the same as humans. We have been deposed from the royal seat that gave us “dominion” over other species. The chauvinism that has blindly enabled humans to wreak havoc on the environment and all creatures that inhabit it is overwhelmingly shocking at times and apparently not justifiable.
I wonder when we will wake up to the ultimate arrogance of this attitude. When will we see that the end does not justify the means? When will we see that the industrialization of animal food production is as brutal and criminal as genocide. When will we understand that we must and can find other ways to inhabit the earth and share it with non-human creatures? I am not suggesting we ignore the law of the jungle and the natural food chain. We are, as are many species, carnivores and that is not likely to change. I am suggesting that we have completely lost touch with our animal natures and just as we send drones to do our killing, we pretend that it is acceptable to treat animals as lifeless manufacturing parts that may be warehoused, transported and assembled, killed, wrapped in plastic and Styrofoam, and consumed without any sense of the life that once was. Most importantly we pretend they did not experience sadness, humiliation, fear and terror, just as we would were we to suffer the same treatment.
There. I have had my tantrum. I don’t feel better. I do hope that this idea resonates with others and that our voices are heard and perhaps one day we can change the world.