Documenting the Coming Singularity

Saturday, February 17, 2007

I Love Animals. They’re Delicious!

Eating Meat is Natural

Some folks choose not to eat meat for health reasons. I have no problem understanding or even respecting this life-choice. More power to you. Something else I respect is the idea that cruelty to animals is bad. Causing pain to any creature simply because one enjoys inflicting suffering is pathological. No wonder doing so happens to be a great predictor of psychopathology in recreational murderers. So far so good.

On the other hand, the idea that killing an animal for food is wrong is boneheaded, empathy run amok. Why do I say that? The answer is simple: Because the entire ecosystem in which we live is predicated on things killing other things for food. Predatory behavior is natural. If predatory behavior were somehow to be prevented, most of our planet’s life-forms would die off and vanish. Even many species of plants kill things to survive. Unless I am mistaken, homo sapiens is also a part of this natural order.

Why is it that a pack of hyenas chasing, biting, bringing down and ultimately devouring alive a beautiful young zebra is something to be applauded as natural and wonderful, but a human being who humanely kills a cow for its meat is seen by animal-rights activists as a contemptible piece of excrement? What’s the hyena’s excuse? Oh, the poor animals are less evolved and don’t know any better? Sorry, that logic doesn’t work for me.

When things really get interesting is when an animal preys on a human. What do the humans say? You can’t fault the animal for doing what is natural. It’s the human’s fault for going where they don’t belong. You see? We are to blame whether we are the eater or the eaten.

It seems to me that the animal rights activists’ arguments are in truth all about their emotions. The thought of an animal being killed is emotionally painful to them (remember: empathy run amok), so they attempt to construct logical arguments against eating meat. They fail.

Here are a few choice quotations from people against the eating of meat, and my answers:

If slaughterhouses had glass walls, everyone would be vegetarian. We feel better about ourselves and better about the animals, knowing we're not contributing to their pain.
--Paul (1942- ) and Linda McCartney
(My Reply: But they don’t, so I’m not.)

Suppose that tomorrow a group of beings from another planet were to land on Earth, beings who considered themselves as superior to you as you feel yourself to be to other animals. Would they have the right to treat you as you treat the animals you breed, keep and kill for food?
--John Harris (1946- )
(Yes, unfortunately they would. And I don’t think they’d much care what I thought anyway.)

To my mind, the life of a lamb is no less precious than that of a human being. I should be unwilling to take the life of a lamb for the sake of the human body.
--Mohandas Gandhi (1869-1948)
(So you would outlaw the taking of the life of a lamb by a wolf?)

I do not like eating meat because I have seen lambs and pigs killed. I saw and felt their pain. They felt the approaching death. I could not bear it. I cried like a child. I ran up a hill and could not breathe. I felt that I was choking. I felt the death of the lamb.
--Vaslav Nijinsky (dancer and choreographer)
(Once again, empathy run amok.)

Let us know your thoughts.

4 comments :

Nate said...

Your logic also has some holes...

"cruelty to animals is bad. Causing pain to any creature simply because one enjoys inflicting suffering is pathological."

It is quite possible to live a healthy life without consuming meat. So what is the reason to eat meat? If one eats meat just because it tastes good then you are inflicting suffering because you enjoy it.

Barry Mahfood said...

Thanks for your comment, Nate.

You quoted me as saying that causing pain because one enjoys inflicting suffering is wrong. Killing animals for their meat because one enjoys the taste of it does not fit this circumstance. I enjoy the taste of the meat, not the animal's pain.

Anonymous said...

I don't think the "It's Natural" argument is very convincing.

First of all, just about everything we do and eat is not natural -- from technology all the way down to processed food.

Secondly, if we apply this logic to other ares of our lives we may end up in a bit of trouble: According to the laws of nature, it is beneficial for males to spread their genes so men should impregnate as many women as possible.

That's a bit over the top but you get the idea.

We are animals but we should put our higher cognitive ability to good use. If we could prevent all animals from killing and hurting each other, I think we would. We simply do not know how to do that without creating more problems than we fix.

That being said, what you eat is your choice. I don't really have a problem with you eating meat.

Barry Mahfood said...

You say that just about everything we do and eat is not natural, but you seem to be exhibiting a double-standard. I'm sure you would call an ant nest natural. These creatures of nature take building materials from their environment and put them together in a way that provides for their needs. You call this natural. Why then, when humans, creatures of nature, do the very same thing to build homes to shelter them, do you call that "not natural"? What's the difference?