Meat is either ethical or it isn’t
By Cazzy Lewchuk, Opinions Editor
I have seen many pro-vegan advertisements questioning why pigs are thought of as food, but dogs as friends.
I have seen both meat eaters and vegetarians protesting an annual dog meat festival in China, for which thousands of dogs are slaughtered every year. The conundrum of eating certain animals but not others is an interesting trend in our society.
Like most people, I find the killing and devouring of dogs to be repugnant. I also find the entire meat industry disgusting. Torturing and pumping animals full of hormones before we devour their flesh is an unnecessary and terrible practice. And, like the majority of the world’s population, I also eat meat daily. Cognitive dissonance is truly a wonderful thing, and it’s difficult to make changes to a diet I’ve had my entire life.
Either animals are food, or they aren’t. No animal should get a pass because of their cuteness or societal status. Many animals not thought of as food in some cultures are enjoyed regularly in others. Guinea pigs are considered pets in Western society, but they’re a delicacy in Peru. Are Peruvians needlessly cruel to this lovable pet, or is it more that their customs are different?
Protesting certain meats can quickly cross the line into cultural intolerance, and even racism. Vegan activist musician Morrissey said “You can’t help but feel the Chinese are a sub-species.” in response to the many animal cruelty practices across the country. While torturing animals is a serious problem, suggesting that a traditional cultural practice makes an ethnic group of people a “sub-species” is textbook racist language. It’s not just one angry Smith; casual racism under the guise of concern for animals is common in society. It’s easy to judge the practices in other countries without recognizing that it’s been a standard for hundreds of years—or longer—in that society.
No one culture is more in the wrong than others for the animals that they choose to eat. You simply can’t pick and choose what animals have the right to life. Either animals can be used as livestock and a food source, or they can’t. Intelligence, size, and commonality of the beast is not a factor, because the end result is the same.
The ethics of animal consumption has many arguments, and as a lifelong meat-eater I may never understand the views of vegetarians/vegans. Nevertheless, I feel the eating of meat is often judged in an intolerant and misguided way that doesn’t account for cultural context. Billions of people around the world eat meat. I believe that this is never going to change, no matter how much impact the vegan movement makes.
I’d probably never eat dog myself, but I don’t judge those who do. I eat pigs, cows, and chickens all the time. If I lived in another time or place, canines wouldn’t be any different. Meat is meat, whether you believe it’s murder or a meal.