Thursday, October 13, 2005

How to be a bad vegetarian (or hypocrisy for beginners)

So, I don't eat meat any more. No more dead animals for me. Except fish, because I'm clearly a hypocrite.

I feel, looking back, like my whole culinary life has been a gradual journey to this point. I've never been a big meat eater, although until a few weeks ago I was happily enjoying KFC with the best of them. Still, there's been no single event that made me make this decision; it just... happened. There was no sudden revelation, no dodgy burger, no pet lamb cooked for Sunday dinner. But there are reasons for this if I think too hard.

This is where I have to explain myself.

First and foremost, I don't like meat much. Chicken's never been a problem. Or a nice crunchy bit of back bacon. But real meat, a thick chewable steak or hunk of baby sheep, has never done it for me. It has an awful texture, it's hard to digest and it's surely very similar to eating a dead person. (Interesting aside: Bill Bryson once said that he'd never eat a doner kebab because he didn't want to consume anything that looked so remarkably like it was "calved from a dead man's leg." Still hungry?) So, red meat was the first to go a couple of months ago. Although by red meat I clearly don't mean bacon, because I'm a hypocrite.

Of course, so far I've only excluded the meat I don't much like, and chicken's still on the menu. But at the back of my mind there's always been the niggling knowledge that this is wrong. Always. It can't be right to cause suffering to another thinking, feeling, sentient being for no good reason whatsoever. And before you say it, it isn't a good reason. Very few people on this earth have no alternative to eating meat. You can argue all you like about food chains and the order of things, but the fact remains that we can all live quite happily and (even more) healthily without dead flesh in our guts.

Do you know how they killed the pigs that made your ham sandwich? They stunned them with an electric stunner, and hung them upside down by their legs. Then they slit their throats so they bled to death. Now, pigs are very intelligent creatures, at least as intelligent, if not more intelligent, as your pet dog. Would you do that to Lassie? Personally, I wouldn't do that to a chicken.

Which leads me to my next reason. How many times have you heard people say, in the face of squeamishness, that if you eat something then you should be able to kill it? It works both ways: if you wouldn't kill it, don't eat it. Stick most people in front of a cow and tell them to slaughter it, get blood on their hands, and they'd be horrified at the thought - but meat comes in such sanitised supermarket packages these days that it's easy to forget it ever had a face.

To me, the thought of strangling a chicken, taking it's neck in my hands and squeezing the life out of it, watching it die helplessly, is no less awful than the thought of strangling a cat, or a monkey. I just couldn't do it. So, yes, if you would take the knife in your hand and slit its throat yourself, then by all means eat that dead pig. But if you wouldn't, then you shouldn't. Come help me dig up some potatoes? No problem. Going scrumping? Sounds like fun. Fancy coming down the abbatoir and slaughtering a few cows? No? Well then.

The final nail in the meat eating coffin came a few weeks ago, in a bookshop. Aren't books great? I picked up In defence of animals: the second wave by Peter Singer, and started reading. I didn't get very far, but the bit I did read was brilliant. The basis gist of it was that the drawing of a line, a don't eat it because it's morally wrong line, at the level of species is quite arbitrary. Why not at genus, or even higher? Other species have the same levels of cognition, sentience and ability to feel pain as small children, but because of this arbitrary line most people would eat one and not the other. In the other direction, why don't we draw the line at whatever subgroups of human we might belong to? Perhaps, as a woman, I ought to start eating men. They may think, feel, cry and hurt like me, but they don't belong to the same exclusive biological group as me. Therefore it's ok to kill them for food, isn't it?

So, no more meat for me. Ish. Sorry for preaching, because I really have no right to. My shoes are made of leather and I eat fish. It's a gradual journey, as I said, and we all know I'm a hypocrite.


Anonymous said...

this was good.

Anonymous said...

I think that if you're going to be a vegetarian for moral reasons, then maybe you should become a fruitarian. I personally don't believe it's right to damage plant life either. I just don't see how animal life is superior to plant life, just because they whine and cry out when you're hurting them? If so that I deem that quite superficial. I think it's cruel to intentionally do that to any life. Hope this comment helps you.

pr3vin pr@g@sh said...

first of all,
Animal does not feel pain.
The swift cutting of vessels of the neck disconnects the flow of blood to the nerve of the brain responsible for pain. Thus the animal does not feel pain. While dying, the animal struggles, writhers, shakes and kicks, not due to pain, but due to the contraction and relaxation of the muscles deficient in blood and due to the flow of blood out of the body.
Blood is a good medium for germs and bacteria
Blood is a good media of germs, bacteria, toxins, etc. Therefore the cutting of the main arteries of slaughtering is more hygienic as most of the blood containing germs, bacteria, toxins, etc. that are the cause of several diseases are eliminated.
Even plants can feel pain
They further argue that plants cannot feel pain, therefore killing a plant is a lesser crime as compared to killing an animal. Today science tells us that even plants can feel pain. But the cry of the plant cannot be heard by the human being. This is due to the inability of the human ear to hear sounds that are not in the audible range i.e. 20 Hertz to 20,000 Hertz. Anything below and above this range cannot be heard by a human being. A dog can hear up to 40,000 Hertz. Thus there are silent dog whistles that have a frequency of more than 20,000 Hertz and less than 40,000 Hertz. These whistles are only heard by dogs and not by human beings. The dog recognizes the masters whistle and comes to the master. There was research done by a farmer in U.S.A. who invented an instrument which converted the cry of the plant so that it could be heard by human beings. He was able to realize immediately when the plant itself cried for water. Latest researches show that the plants can even feel happy and sad. It can also cry.

therefore is Killing a living creature with two senses less is not a lesser crime?

Once a vegetarian argued his case by saying that plants only have two or three senses while the animals have five senses.
Therefore killing a plant is a lesser crime than killing an animal. Suppose your sister is born deaf and dumb and has two senses less as compared to other human beings. She becomes mature and someone murders him. Would you ask the judge to give the murderer a lesser punishment because your sister has two senses less? In fact you would say that he has killed a masoom, an innocent person, and the judge should give the murderer a greater punishment.

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