A couple of weeks ago on Facebook, I was being sent some horrific images of the Chinese dog festival in Yulin. The images were stomach-churning, although no worse than some I have seen from Soi Dogs as they try to stop the dog meat trade in Thailand and neighbouring countries.
But I did see some comments that said to being disgusted about these images was being hypocritical if you were a meat eater, because this treatment is only what farmed animals have to endure to become our lunch and dinner. I must admit it did make me think as I munched into my bacon sandwich. Was I being hypocritical?
When I was young I used to eat mountains of raw vegetables. Sometime my dinner would just comprise a (huge) bowl of them with a liberal smattering of salt. As I have got older I eat less and less red meat as I just don't enjoy it as much as I used to, much preferring pork or fish. But never have I considered being vegetarian. My small claim to fame is I have never eaten in McDonalds and the only fast food I have eaten is KFC. I would rather go without or find a SubWay than eat at Wendy's or Burger King or any of the hundreds of other fast food chains. I am fussy about the quality of the food I eat. And I refute the health claims of vegetarians as all I have met look like they are dying from a wasting disease and seem to permanently be ill. I do eat vegetables - a lot - it is just I like to have a little pork or fish or chicken too, and I don't want to spend my day popping supplements just to stay alive.
I am not squeamish about killing animals either. I know how to pluck pheasants or wring the neck of chickens or skin a rabbit. I have eaten all sorts of 'exotic' foods, from horse to snake. I do not turn a blind eye to the the videos that PETA in particular like to post to prick our consciousness.
So am I being hypocritical? When I come home, even if I have only been away for a few hours, I get greeted excitedly and enthusiastically by our two dogs. If I have been away for a few days then it takes hours for them to calm down and the next day they follow me around the house to make sure I don't escape again (at least without them coming with me). By way of comparison, our fish do none of this. To be honest they don't even seem to notice I am gone. In fact, they seem completely indifferent to my presence. Dogs have been bred to be our companions for hundreds if not thousands of years. They have a particular affection for us, and we them (well most people anyway - I am deeply suspicious of people who do not like dogs). So to see a dog being slaughtered is different to seeing another animal being slaughtered - especially my fish who I must admit, I am not that bothered about.
But cows and pigs are sentient creatures I am told, some keep pigs as pets too, so why should I arbitrarily discriminate. Well dogs have been bred for hunting and companionship, and farm animals have been bred for food. Cows have no other purpose and once full grown are difficult to house train and show a positive indifference to humans. So if we did not eat them what would we do to them as they slowly multiplied and took over the planet. And whilst they are undoubtedly more intelligent than a politician, politicians are my own race and although they only pass laws for their own self-interest, being the same race, those interests sometime coincide with my own. That is not likely if we are ruled by cows as they introduce special taxes on those with less than four stomachs to fund their crack dens.
I do want to see the humane treatment and slaughter of the animals. If that means food costs more, so be it. I am not trying to compare, but it is the same with genetically modified vegetables or fruit, or all the chemicals that are sprayed on the same. It would surely be better for all of us if we accepted a little more fat in the meat and the odd blemish on our apples but we knew our bounty had not been injected/sprayed or otherwise contaminated with something. And yes, free range pigs and chickens, but let's not get fanatical about it. Because we keep chickens in pens doesn't mean civilisation has been denied some great scientific discovery or literary masterwork. We have to be careful not to put human values on animals with brains the size of a pea. Do not cause them pain, but there is no need to furnish pig pens with modernist furniture, scented candles and hot tubs.
So, no I am not being hypocritical. Dogs do have a special position in our culture (although clearly not in Chinese culture). And no they can't do what they like because they want globalisation the same as everyone else. So it's right there is some up cry over it. It is also right we campaign for the pain free slaughter of our food. But let's not get carried away. Without us it is unlikely cows would exist at all as they would have just been food for some other animals. So they can show their gratitude in our protection by allowing us to eat some of them.
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