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Imagine that you are invited to a party at your friend’s house. You get along with people there, and you have fun chatting while you wait for a dinner. You are hungry, but you wait patiently because you know your friend is a good cook. She finally brings out the food. You are starving. It starts with a soup with meat and vegetables. It looks delicious and smells so good so you instantly eat it. And you love it. So you asked her what the ingredients were. She says, “It’s five pounds of golden retriever, tomatoes, broccoli and…” You probably freeze mid-bite as you think about what she just said. “This meat in my mouth is from a dog?”

Did you picture a golden retriever in your brain? You might even have imagined it being slaughtered to be eaten. You must have lost your appetite if you were in a situation like this. You don’t want to have another bite even though you had thought it was delicious.

Almost everybody would agree that it is immoral to eat dogs. My question is, what about other animals? Is it moral to eat meat from animals?

124,000 farmed animals are slaughtered globally every MINUTE. Animals such as pigs, cows, horses or chickens feel pain just like we do, and some of them have a consciousness. Pigs are at least as intelligent as a three-year-old human being. Cows develop deep and lasting relationships with their family and friends. They may cry when their babies are taken from them. Even some fish feel pain. But we still eat them. Why is that?

I have been eating meat since I was born. It is normal in Japan, and literally everybody around me ate meat. Nobody questioned it. But considering the fact that it was normal to buy and sell human beings before, normalcy doesn’t justify our behavior. There are two common justifications for eating meat besides normalcy; people say it is natural and necessary.

Is it natural to eat meat? Now I am convinced it is NOT something we naturally wish. We are just conditioned to eat meat with our belief systems. We eat meat from a very young age and thus we don’t question it.

Let’s go back to the story of your friend’s party. What happened to you when you were told that you were eating dog meat? Here is what probably happened in your brain.

Golden retriever meat (stimulus) -> inedible animal (belief/perception) -> image of living dog (thought) -> disgust (feeling)-> refusal or reluctance to eat (action)[1]

You lost your appetite because you felt disgusted after picturing the image of a living dog.

Then what happens when we eat meat from other animals? It is very likely that we don’t picture living cows, pigs or chickens. We skip that part of the process that makes the mental connection between meat and the living animal.

This makes sense because it is actually disgusting to think about. If you don’t believe me, picture a real chicken before you eat them. Picture the chicken with flesh and blood. They breathe, walk and fly. If you do it properly, you will feel uneasy. You might even want to stop eating if you picture the vivid image of the chicken being slaughtered or squashed in the assembly line. The meat is processed in a way that we don’t have to picture its living state because it dampens the appetite. It is NOT natural to eat animals. We feel disgusted.

Moreover, to say that it is only natural to eat meat is like a man saying that it is only natural to cheat on his wife. He is just saying he cannot resist his impulse. He cannot really help it, even if he thinks that he is doing something wrong. He justifies his behavior by ignoring all the people who don’t cheat on their wives. This is called naturalistic fallacy. We justify our behavior by claiming that something is natural. People could use this logic for killing, rape or bullying. In this case, we use it for the act of killing animals.

The second justification is that it is necessary to eat meat. Can we live without eating animals? We certainly can. Pescatarians, vegetarians and vegans live just fine.

As a matter of fact, an animal-based diet could be linked to some of prevalent and deadly diseases today. Conversely, a plant-based diet has been shown to prevent disease as well as optimize health and enhance athletic performance.

Moreover, from a sustainability point of view, it’s better to eat beans because farming animals consumes more energy.

Therefore, it’s not only unnecessary to eat meat but harmful to our health and the Earth.

It seems impossible to justify the act of eating meat to me. In essence, eating meat is merely a pleasure. We are manufacturing and killing a life for our pleasure.

Here is the hidden truth of the living animals that we sacrifice for food. One of the largest food suppliers is called Tyson. They genetically redesigned chickens to have bigger breasts because that is what consumers want. They also found a way to grow chickens faster than before. As a consequence, these chickens cannot take more than a few steps because their bones and internal organs cannot keep up with the rapid growth of the breasts. The chickens’ lives are owned by the company from the beginning to the end, and they have to be produced in the same size. If you look at a chicken factory, it is pretty much like other factories. It’s a mass production of chicken; their purpose is to produce lots of chicken in an efficient way. The chickens are aligned in an assembly line just like a car, and then slaughtered and squashed in the machinery process. Their skin is rinsed, inner organs are taken away and the head is taken. Then they are packaged in a box as a final product. This is what we do to our fellow animals.

So I decided to stop eating animals. I will start by being pescatarian, then vegetarian and then eventually vegan. It has been more than a week and I can certainly say that it’s not difficult at all. So why not choose to live morally and have no regrets?

I believe that in a not so distant future, eating animals will be like buying and selling human beings. It will be unjustifiable to eat meat just like slavery is incredibly immoral in our time. People in the future will look back and say it is gross and immoral.

Notes

[1] Joy, Melanie. Why We Love Dogs, Eat Pigs, and Wear Cows: An Introduction to Carnism. Conari Press.

References

Joy, Melanie. (2011). Why We Love Dogs, Eat Pigs, and Wear Cows: An Introduction to Carnism. Conari Press.
Food, Inc. Robert Kenner. Dogwoof Pictures, Participant Media, River Road Entertainment. 2008.
The Secret Reason We Eat Meat. Dr. Melanie Joy. Beyond Carnism. 2015.