Tuesday, April 9, 2013

animals without faces

what's behind this face?

my previous post brings forth a different conversation that needs to happen. after the cambridge declaration a carnivore/pet owner cannot say "i love animals" without a shade of moral tension.

what does it mean to love an animal? to love thyself: ego-projection! pet-rearing in america boils down to a social practice of ornamental narcissism (thus the resemblance between pet and owner).

how much the animal face resembles the human face becomes an important ingredient in our understanding of animal cogitatio. the metaphor is used by french philosopher emmanuel levinas: a face for levinas brings forth a more basic, essential connection: 1- the possibility of bridging a friendship, 2- an encounter, which opens up all sort of ethical possibilities.

the truth is that levinas didn't understand the animal face (more of this later). for now, i'd like to stretch levinas' idea to fit non-human animals.

the more human the animal looks, the easier the human projection. 

walt disney is against the grain. the legend goes that he loved animals & introduced a legion to the masses: goofy, donald, ronno, roger, minnie, goofy, bambi. (one could argue that mammal face-to-face is easier). but then there is jiminy cricket,  kaa (python), ursula (octopus), sebastian (crab) & aladar (dino).

what am i getting at? they all talk!

disney, not levinas, tackles the problem. language is the divide of human/animal face-to-face. since the animal cannot articulate a sentence, they become, as german philosopher martin heidegger put it "poor in world." this is why levinas doesn't walk the walk with bobby --the only animal in the prisoner camp where he spent the war years. jiminy cricket talks and acts smart. he's loyal & generous. of course, crickets don't talk, but by imagining they could, we cogitate a face all the way down to hexapoda.

the whole idea of face-to-face is that it should presuppose otherness unqualified. if i choose my other face all i'm doing is projecting myself-as-other.

jiminy has a cute face, only too human-like

on the other hand, disney's anthropocentrism reinforces animal bias: big bad wolf is, well, evil. his goal is to eat the three little pigs. now animal-empathy ends up building animal-prejudice. how?

we hate bad wolf because we're competing for the same food niche.

in disney's dinosaur the evil carnotaurus is a carnivore. aladar, the protagonist is an iguanadon (a hervibore). we get a paradoxical view of animal otherness. hervibores are good, carnivore (predators) are evil. as anthropocentric as it gets, we're still blind to the fact that we are the top carnivores (we'll come back to this blind spot).

let's improve disney thought experiment: being aware of the animal-as-other makes for an interesting hermeneutic circle. let's get rid of moral simplifications: animals are neither "good" nor "bad." animals are not moral beings in the sense we understand the term. the received idea is that animals are not moral because they lack freedom (too complicated a question to be pursued here). therefore, our -anthropocentric- exploration of human otherness remains redundantly human.   

is the systematization of suffering upon animals brought up by modern factory farming moral?  twentieth-century biotechnological revolution has turned against animals & the environment. is this breeding/killing production cycle really about food?  capitalist biotechnology produces cheap commodities for global trade, a dangerous trade off of environmental pollution and pandemics
meat-eating uses about three-fifths of the world's agricultural land yet produces less than 5% of its protein and less than 2% of its calories. meat production contributes to global warming through its effects on deforestation, both directly through pasture and indirectly through its use of feed and forage, and also because of the methane, which comes from the stomachs and manure of cattle.

the more animals we kill, the bigger the demand. in spite of the billions of animals killed each year, they never die. we end up having more of them.  (packaging does the trick)

design absorbs brutal suffering and waste & turns it into a clean artificial display. packaging reminds one of standard anatomical representations of the human body (with insets of the male or female reproductive system): a lactating breast, a vagina, ovaries. they appear isolated, fragmented, a sort of pornographic display of meat-fragments to be consumed a bit at a time.

the label details provenance, processing company, weight, price, cut, calories, fat, safe handling instructions, etc. the animal's life separated and distributed into arbitrary categories. we should ask a different question: is a life designed as mere consumption really a life? is life defined solely as meat grade, cut, flavor, tenderness, cooking method?

the animal's suffering is seldom a topic of discussion.

wolf man reinforces the unbridgeable duality of the "animal" in us. but we can turn the metaphor on its head: wolf man is the pressing to fact coming from the inside (the "other side", our truer? face): the expression of our self-destruction 

the moment the animal's face shows up we confront our bad faith. we cringe @ the idea that our meat comes from a vicious cycle of industrial suffering. but our pity is purely narcissistic. that is to say, us-as-them in the slaughterhouse -right before the 300 volt electric shock of the captive bolt pistol at the back of the head.

what we resent the most is our weakness at entertaining our "vicarious" suffering.  a defense mechanism suddenly kicks in. now we wish to have it both ways: as non-human animals eating each other in a state of necessity, and as humans, enjoying the taste of meat at a restaurant.

this is what best expresses why human language doesn't necessarily preclude a face: having language doesn't make us any better.

is there a way out of this impasse?


Alfredo Triff said...

To start, a solution would be to not make such a biased post where you assume everyone shares your "ideals" that way you don't make an ass out you you and me and every other reader that has misfortune of reading your posts.

a true post, so, i'm biased because i have a point of view? and you're not biased for having yours?

that way you don't make an ass out you you and me and every other reader that has misfortune of reading your posts.

tx for the compliment, by being offensive you undermine much of your own response. now, why are you forced to read me? just don't.

Humans need to eat meat, what are we going to do?

why is it that humans "need" to eat meat? making assertions is not how you prove your point.

my friend, there's a lot of bravado in your tone, but little substance. try again.

JayRay said...

Yo Mr. T to the Riff,
Intresting article! Don't humans need to eat meat? From the two minutes I google'd just now, I thot there were vitamins that exclusively in meat? More speceficly from the B vitamen famly. I mean of corse you can get like multivitamens and get it that way I guess. Yo I dug this article a lot.

Alfredo Triff said...

ay ray, thanks. i have a different view: we need to eat less meat. better yet, eat less overall.

if your argument about meat-eating was sound, hindus from india (most of them are vegetarian) would be dying by the millions. don't you think?

Yaumary Viera said...

There are lots of horrendous issues behind this topic. I have been doing an intensive research because of a school project and after this I will make important decisions in my life. The main issue it’s not to completely eliminate the habit of eating meat, but at least reduce it. The United States is a meat- consumption country by excellence, but it is possible to reduce the amount of meat that we eat.
Another important issue, that I think is a misconception, is related to the vitamins and proteins in that are seem to be found only in animal meat. Some people think the only way to get those nutrients is by consuming meat, but this is not real. There are lots of meals that have good proteins and in greater amount than those that we find in the meat. For example, the soya, peanut, many types of chesses (manchego is one of them) and hams (Serrano is one of them). My friends, people need to eat, but animals need to be treated with a minimum of respect or at least, compassion. The only thing we ask for is a better treatment to animals, better conditions and this is not a far apart issue, we can do a difference. Let’s start!!!!

The Mike said...

"A horse is a horse, of course of course" unless it can talk or is packaged?

There have been several movements of late in the restaurant industry: "farm to table" (locally sourced ingredients, sometimes grown or raised right beside the restaurant), "snout to tail" (eating everything possible from the animal), and "know your food" (meeting the animal and sometimes slaughtering it yourself) come immediately to mind. These movements seek to reacquaint us with what we eat, to understand our food at deeper levels. I think these reach toward one way out of the quandary created by our separation from primal nature. Of course another way out is to separate ourselves completely from nature, but we haven't quite figured out how to nourish ourselves "artificially".

I think it interesting that you place us in opposition to the Big Bad wolf by way of competition. I always thought we were in opposition to him because we sympathized with the pigs, that we saw ourselves through them as potential victims of that which would consume us, perhaps fear itself. I hadn't through of eating the pigs, but now that you mention it, and if they'd just stop speaking...

Alfredo Triff said...

"know your food" (meeting the animal and sometimes slaughtering it yourself) come immediately to mind.

tx, the mike. kyf makes sense. one understands what one eats in the measure that one is prepared to kill it oneself. the post seeks to problematize the issue & not necessarily to provide answers.

Bills Andino said...

I agree with factory farming but I do not agree with the way the animals are treated mainly because they do feel pain and suffer. After seen the videos of piglets being kicked and thrown for no reason it makes a person wonder about the suffering some of the delicious burgers we eat go through.
Factory farming will not be stopped unless it becomes an important subject and alternative ways to provide food are found. I know some people will say slow farming, but slow farming takes time, space and money that some farmers are not willing to spend. Why would I as a business use a 200 square feet facility to raise 20 chickens in 70 days when I can raise 40 in 48 days, for many farmers is just not convenient. Take into account that factory farmed chickens have been bred by humans to have bigger fuller breast (since we love the white meat). With the time, space and money saved to raise a bigger chicken what farmer would not be tempted to start factory farming.
I see professor you mentioned deforestation but by raising a large amount of animals in a small are farmers are actually maximizing the space, and if slow farming became the main industry even more space would be needed leading to more deforestation, hell even if we only planted crops the space occupied would be extremely large and deforestation would still take place. There would be less gasses being produced but with fertilizers needed to keep away pests the local fauna will still take some damage.
I say lets keep factory farming but really crack down on the abuse. Lets give the pigs,chickens, turkeys and all sorts of animals some more space, if they were being kept in 2 square feet cage lets give the 3-4 feet of space and completely get rid of the beatings the animals are taking for no particular reason, I mean come on they are already going to die why make their time before death worst. If a company is found to be in violations of the new laws give them a ticket big enough to become an inconvenience and they will not do it again, it works for a lot of people who love to speed and drive recklessly, why not for these farms. In conclusion lets keep factory farming but lets make it less cruel towards the animals they are already on the road to an early death, lets at least make the trip a bit nicer.

Thomas Fancello said...

What happens if, in the future, humans come up with a machine that would allow us to comprehend what animals are saying? Let’s make this even more complicated. Let’s assume this machine only works on cows or pigs. Would we still eat them? Well then, Heidegger’s conclusion would become invalidated, cows and pigs would not be “poor” anymore.
Now, of course, the cows’ and pigs’ speech would not be rational, according to human standards. However, let’s be honest, talking is one of the major methods we use to express our emotions. If cows and pigs could suddenly convey their emotions through words, I am certain the rate of vegetarians would drastically increase. So, in the end, if the rate of animals dying is to significantly decrease, they cannot be “poor” anymore. This means, until animals can speak, they will never be seen as equal and our brutality against them will continue.

Nicole Bouza said...

It is hard for me to pick apart my personal thoughts after reading this article. With the majority of my family and friends who constantly eat meet, how am I suppose to know that this is wrong? No one dares to bring up conversation about how the meat got to our plates. If someone asks at the table, thats not considered "dinner conversation." It appears to me that even educating the public about the realities these animals go through, it will never be enough to overpower their desire for a good meal.

There is an interesting point to be made with Walt Disney's animal-characters. Relating back to german philosopher martin heidegger, children love to watch the stories of animals, who like us, have personalities that bring them to life in our eyes. They are no longer considered "poor in world" because they are able to defend their own thoughts and desires. Disney characters expose us to an animal-loving world from a young age but holds back on educating us about the history behind the way humans treat them. But why would they? This is not how they are going to make their fortune?

The reality behind both the meat industry and Disney is that they both know what the public wants to hear. Wether this is true knowledge or not, doesn't matter to them. As philosophers we are challenged to question the "truths" that have been hand-fed to us from day one. It is important for all of us to not only read these articles but to do our own research on animal cruelty and other issues that pop up.

Marianelys Barrios said...

That meat is something we have to eat every day to get protein, vitamins and nutrients is just a myth. It is just an excuse used to sacrifice defenseless animals and devour them as the carnivorous specie we are. In my personal case, I hate the taste of meat, nonetheless, my parents force me to eat it because it has “important vitamins and nutrients”. Just as mentioned in the article, if meat has protein we need to consume in order to have a longer and healthier life, how come that a good percentage of our population is vegetarian and they still manage to live without consuming this “vital protein”? Also, I think everything depends on the culture that one comes from, where one was raised and the eating habits one develops as one grows. I was born and raised in Cuba, a country that lacks this tasty source of protein. To eat meat in Cuba means that families have to raise pigs and chickens in their homes to then kill them in order to have food. This is why the majority of Cubans are addicted to meat like my father and grandmother, something that was prohibited to them for decades they have it now in abundance and want to satiate the thirst of meat they had for many years. On the other hand we have the Hindus from India, just like the article said, their culture taught them to eat vegetables and not meat.
Let us think for a second, what if animals from the beginning of time had been able to communicate with humans, would we have dared to kill and eat them? And what if in the meat package there was a picture of the animal as it was being slaughtered, would we have dare to eat it? Something that has become a habit for billions of people around the world cannot be suddenly eradicated, that is why, in my opinion, we should try to at least reduce our consumption of meat. Just because we are “rational animals” we feel superior and with the right to exploit everything we think inferior to us, and that is just not fair.

Abnerys Leon said...

Animals, as German philosopher Martin Heidegger put it, are poor to the world. We humans claim that we love animals when it comes to our pets, yet we eat cows and pigs like if nothing only because they are defenseless. Yet, I think that the problem is not only that non-human animals cannot speak but also that we are blinded to the animal cruelty that goes on behind closed doors. As Marianelys pointed out, if we were to see pictures of animal suffering on meat packages, it would stir our emotions, causing us to think twice about eating meat. There would be a few people who would still eat them because they believe that animals give far more protein and is a necessity for human beings. However, this is not true. When I was in high school, a passionate man came to speak to us about animal cruelty. He showed us a gruesome video, pictures, and brought to light this horrible process. I am not lying when I say that I did not eat meat for a long time that as I tried to become a vegetarian. The key here was that he was successful because he educated us and brought to light the truth of animal packaging and animal cruelty that we are usually shielded from. He provided us not only with the information of the cruelty but also suggested alternative foods. Yes, it’s true that protein and fundamental nutrition can be found elsewhere but it is harder for us as human beings to find these options because we are so accustomed to eating meat with everything. Thus, we take the easier road. If we bring these options to the public and educate them about how meat using only produces less than 5% of its protein and less than 2% of its calories we can decrease meat demands. In addition to this, I agree that the solution to this problem would be to eat less meat and less overall; it would be healthier and would also decrease global warming both directly and indirectly. This however, needs to start with more health and animal cruelty education so that people are aware of the situation. As humans, we need to be the voice for these animals.

-Abnerys Leon, Wolfson

Maday Guerra said...

Even though I do eat meat, I’m against factory farming because animals can also feel pain with the only difference being that they cannot speak up and fight for the rights they should have. Since these animals are raised to die at least they shouldn’t be living under such miserable conditions. The suffering of these animals is incomparable since they are being kept in small places, some are impregnated over and over and when they stop being productive they end up in the slaughter, the pigs’ tails are cut off and their ears are marked in order to be identified, they are also forced to live among their wastes and even other dead pigs. It is not necessary to commit these monstrosities in order to provide meat to those who eat it. After reading this article and doing several research I imagine the pain and suffering those animals went through in their little periods of life and I feel ashamed of my own people because we are living in a time where things could be done different. I’ve read that animal meat contains some vitamins that aid in the development of a healthy brain but people are using this information as an excuse to eat more than they should and everything in excess is bad. Also, I think and it is being proved that people that do not eat meat live a healthy life, therefore to eat meat could be helpful but it is not completely necessary.

Maday Guerra, InterAmerican

Alfredo Triff said...

great discussion. don't mind me.

Anonymous said...

I eat meat. That, I do not think will make me a bad person. However I do believe we can live without eating meet, but I still like it. However, I do not think eating or not certain animals have everything to do with the fact that we have no awareness about their suffering, they cannot speak out. I believe it has to do more with our culture and our feelings towards some animals. In the U.S. we will not think, most of us, to eat a dog or a cat; however, in India people will never think of eating a cow. Is it because people in the U.S. are more aware of a dog's sufferings than Asians? Cultures have romanticized or idealized different animals people from that culture will be incapable of harming. We have not formed special bonds with caws or pigs, we do not see them as smart animals like dolphins, and so we see no other usage for them other than food. I am not implying that it justifies us, but new anthropological studies have shown eating meat had a great impact in human evolution. Animals do feel pain, we all know that, but are they aware that they are feeling pain? Not having many studies that prove it gives a less concerned conscience about it to those that do eat.

Anonymous said...

I eat meat. That, I do not think will make me a bad person. However I do believe we can live without eating meet, but I still like it. However, I do not think eating or not certain animals have everything to do with the fact that we have no awareness about their suffering, they cannot speak out. I believe it has to do more with our culture and our feelings towards some animals. In the U.S. we will not think, most of us, to eat a dog or a cat; however, in India people will never think of eating a cow. Is it because people in the U.S. are more aware of a dog's sufferings than Asians? Cultures have romanticized or idealized different animals people from that culture will be incapable of harming. We have not formed special bonds with caws or pigs, we do not see them as smart animals like dolphins, and so we see no other usage for them other than food. I am not implying that it justifies us, but new anthropological studies have shown eating meat had a great impact in human evolution. Animals do feel pain, we all know that, but are they aware that they are feeling pain? Not having many studies that prove it gives a less concerned conscience about it to those that do eat.
Ana Martinez- Wolfson

atRifF said...

Animals do feel pain, we all know that, but are they aware that they are feeling pain?

great question, ana. is there a form of animal conscousness?
according to this, a criteria may include:
1- having a suitable nervous system and sensory receptors, 2- physiological changes to noxious stimuli, 3- displays protective motor reactions that might include reduced use of an affected area such as limping, rubbing, holding or autotomy, 4- has opioid receptors and shows reduced responses to noxious stimuli when given analgesics and local anaesthetics, 5- shows trade-offs between stimulus avoidance and other motivational requirements, 6- shows avoidance learning, high cognitive ability and sentience.

Ksenija Cvetkova said...

Wow…this article is definitely without any fluff to it. Personally, I am a pescetarian, meaning I only eat fish from the meat products for many reasons as well as the ones stated in the article. It is interesting how humans claim to love animals, though most of the time we mean our own pets. There are plenty of people who say I don’t like cats but I do love my own or I don’t like small dogs but I have one and I love just that one. In a way our pets are projections of ourselves and that is why we adore them. Animals such as pets don’t only resemble their pet owners in appearance but in their characters and habits as well. Their behavior is very similar to their pet owner’s because they are raised and cared by them. They are like children without sharing the biological traits of their parents. Now how we can say we love animals when we do not stop and think about them when buying a T-bone steak or ordering baby back ribs at the restaurant? It is true the packaging separates us from the face and the suffering of the animal. I have paid attention that many times when you show a video of animal farming to people they tend to turn away saying, “turn that off, that’s disgusting!” When we see the lives and suffering of the animals we turn away because it’s too much to handle though we do not make the same judgment when buying our products. Furthermore, Disney has projected a discriminatory imagery of animals from which as kids we base our view on animals. We see them more human like and that is why many people treat their dogs as if they were a person, teaching them how to sing and etc. In reality, its important to understand an animal as it is an animal instead of making it mini us. I also wanted to reflect on the idea that many people bring forth against vegetarianism. The fact that humans have been eating animals since caveman years, which eventually turned into small farms, that it is in our nature to eat meat and that it’s a required protein. Yes this is true, we have been eating animals since caveman years. Nevertheless there is a huge differentiation between than and now. Previously we faced the animal and killed it ourselves rather than injected it with growth hormones and other medical things in order for the chicken or cow to become fatter. When a farmer had a cow he used it for milk, once the cow was becoming useless the farmer would kill the cow for the cow hide and meat, but there was no mass slaughter and life of continuous suffering. What we do now at the farmers is completely different from the previous times. The idea that meat is an essential for the protein has been proven wrong, nuts contain a high level of protein as well as there are many other ways to get the nutrients required. Besides do you really think that big mac has the proteins and nutrients that you need?

Cynthia Haddad said...

Ever since I was a young child, my parents have taught me to eat everything that was put on the table. They wanted to make sure I was well rounded and "cultured" in that sense. Need less to say, I have grown up to like all sorts of different foods; a good meal can literally make me happy.

As the years have gone by, I have learned and realized the crime behind eating meat. If animals and I spoke the same language and were really able to communicate, I am not sure how much of them I would be eating. But, on the other hand, just because animals don't speak my own language it does not mean they are not trying to communicate. Given that I do not speak french, it is as if a French person and I could not communicate, and I found it ok to hurt or kill them. I have found myself being more self aware of what I eat and what the consequences of my own meal is, not matter how delicious can be.

It is up to one, to educate oneself and really get to know what is on one's plate for dinner. If I did not take a step back and learn about my eating habits, I would still be abusing meat.

I still think it is ok for people to eat meat, just not as an everyday meal.

Cynthia Haddad, Wolfson

Katheryn Naranjo said...

This is a topic that makes people mad and even sad. It goes beyond the question of: can we do something about it? can we stop animal abuse, not because we deserve a better meat, or because we are damaging the environment, but because these beings are able to feel and suffer as we humans, with the only difference that they are not able to express themselves with words. No one is suggesting that animal farming should be stopped, indeed, the way they are being sacrificed, killed and harmed is what shouldn't be allowed by these big industries. I believe the government should take action and why not pass a law to bring an end to these atrocities.
Kathery Naranjo : Interamerican campus

themis lopez said...

Perhaps the biggest sin is to constantly do something you know deep in your core is wrong. I am not a vegetarian, I do not check products to make sure they aren’t animal tested and I do not even try and educate people against the crime that is killing creatures, ultimately for no reason. I, like many others have fallen into a hypocritical routine of ignorance and complete lack of judgment. How does one spend money on vets for pets and the meat of others? If you were to put a baby pig on the hands of a baby it couldn’t think food, it would think “friend”. Our society however has allowed us to be lazy, and to ignore the truth that is the horrible crime of killing other species. We have eventually listened to the cries of slaves, women and homosexuals, concluding we are all the same; we are all “humans”. However their pleas for freedom and respect needed the help of others, of the ones not willing to stand by while the innocent got hurt. Cows, fish and chickens may not be able to fight for their freedom, but as the “evolved” species we should have enough moral judgment to declare ALL torture and mass killings as wrong. The thousands of excuses we put into eating meat have longed been proven fallacious, yet we continue to blame nutrition and cultural traditions for our wrong doings.I believe that each animal that enters a killing factory has a story, it is a “bambi” a “goofey’ and it feels, feels the pain and suffering we place on them.
-Themis Lopez

Leana M. Ramos, InterAmerican Campus said...

I’m completely against factory farming and all forms of animal abuse because animals feel pain and suffer as we humans do with the only difference that they do not reason nor are they able to express themselves. Even though I am an on and off vegan -or vegetarian-- I must admit that I sometimes eat cheese because its contained in so many products, its overwhelming) not for animal rights but because I prefer to do so. I feel healthier in that I eat natural, whole and nutritional foods rich in soy, fruits, vegetables, and legumes. I also take supplemental vitamins and I do not believe that it is necessary to eat meat or even products derived from meat to live healthy. However, I am not a raving vegetarian. I respect everyone and believe that every person should make his or her decisions for his or her dietary practices. However, it is unfair for animals to be treated with abuse, it is simply unacceptable. I believe that the government should take measures to make these abuses illegal.

Rubi Zavala said...

Factory farming is not only irresponsible and in many ways a form of animal abuse, it’s also an existing danger to consumers buying animal products.I believe that factory farming shouldn’t exist.Just imagine that you are an animal and you are inside the factory the smell of blood and gore enter your nose.You see workers line up other animals and you see how other animals suffer.

The world becomes a sad place when we allow animals to be factory-farmed, treating them inhumanely to be used for our pleasure.


Rocio Casco said...

I believe there is not excuse for the consumption of animals by humans. I did not explore this topic before starting to do my research paper; I used to basically ignore it. Now, I am able to see the millions of ways in which I was wrong by doing that. I come from Argentina, a country where the consumption of meat is embedded in the culture and is part of my family's everyday eating habit. Because of all this research I am changing my eating habits. Aside from the fact that it is not necessary to eat meat in order to survive or obtain the necessary proteins to be healthy, animals DO suffer and FEEL pain. It is extremely ironic for us to discriminate against these beings, torture them, consume them, and all that follows by drawing a huge line that separates humans from animals yet when we use animals for experimentation we think of them as the closest beings on earth that are similar to us. We experiment with animals because we KNOW their reactions, their FEELINGS, their sense of pain are closely related to our reactions, feelings, and sense of pain. Then why do we keep ignoring their rights? Why do we keep excusing ourselves by saying they "are not aware of suffering", they "don't feel pain", or to get to the point of the worse excuse "animals eat animals, then why is it wrong for us to eat them"? Yes, animals do eat animals in order to survive BUT because they have no other choice. Unlike us, many species of animals cannot live without doing that. But, we do have the choice not to do it and we can make the conscious decision of not consuming meat.

Isabel Arias said...

Maybe animals can’t communicate their thoughts, maybe they can’t build cities, computers, or new technologies. Maybe they don’t have all the desires we have or comprehend what we do about the world. Yet animals, just like us, desire for shelter, food, companionship, freedom from cruelty, and avoidance of pain. Animals also understand the world we live in, if not, how would they survive? Beyond our differences I believe we are all earthlings, and it is from our kinships rather than contrasts that we should start to think morally about them. Just like us, animals embody the mystery and wonder of consciousness: they are the psychological centers of a life that is uniquely their own. Animals are not only in the world, but they are also aware of it. As we grew older and “tougher” we were taught by society to ignore, excuse, and even mock the pain and misery of animals, specially if they are cows, chickens, or pigs. Eventually, we learned to make fun of their “stupidity” and classified them as lower forms of existence, forgetting the most important fact as we treat them: Animals have the capability to feel psychological and physical pain. I, like other 7.3 million american people, have switched to a vegetarian diet. Not because I did not enjoy the taste of meat, cheese or any other animal product, but because I refuse to monetarily support industries responsible for the merciless slaughter of 10 billion land animals and 18 billion marine animals every year. This exploitation and murder of sentient beings does not even occur for health, survival, sustenance, or self defense, but for the narcissistic reason that we like the taste of their body secretions and flesh. We all know that we do not need meat in order to thrive, in fact it has been once again proved by clinical research that meat consumption is closely associated to heart disease and cancer. (The Scientist Magazine) Yet, us humans will keep on excusing our opportunistic omnivorous habits while we are perfectly capable of surviving on a plant-based diet. I wonder how can we think such a thing as humane slaughter is even possible? For how long will we keep on ignoring the psychological and physical abuse, torture, and dismemberment innocent animals have to go through in the houses of slaughter and dairy farms in order to have a piece of cruel meat in our plates? Isabel Arias, Wolfson

Patxi Inchausti said...

I wanted to focus on the question about life for consumption being a life. I believe that life is given and not created. As humans we have reached an understanding of the conditions needed for life to take place but that and our status on the food chain does not give us the right to kill in such a manner as with factory farming. I can say that I will not stop eating meat but can't accept the fact that animals are being killed with cruelty and not being granted any dignity before and after death. But of course, we can not say that we understand because we are not the ones being abused, are we?... but when something of the sort happens to a person, we as a community try to catch whoever inflicted on the victim and make him pay for his/her actions. Shouldn't animals have the same rights? or is the lack of ability to reason and speak like humans a valid reason for our actions towards them?

Alicia Martin said...

The constant issue of animal consumption is in my opinion, misunderstood. For many years, the term "man's best friend" held no importance to people who without food, would not be able to survive. Animals, as well as other living organisms, live on this planet in a connected ecosystem. We use each other in terms of comfort, protection, and most importantly nutrition.

Although I do understand that cruelty is something worth fighting against, eating meat in general is something that people have been doing for many years because its part of our natural instinct...to survive.

People often turn their heads when they see someone eat a cheeseburger at McDonalds, but make a big deal out of seeing a shark eat a seal for example. Our moral obligation to whine about such an action blinds us from the truth.

We eat because we have to, and organisms do too.

Alicia Martin, Wolfson

Ninoska Mendoza, Wolfson said...

The more human the animal looks, the more human projection. This is an interesting thought because humans love cute and cuddly things, like puppies and kittens, love them so much some people even share a bed, but chances are no one wants to share a bed with a possum. Likewise, our love for animals looks better from afar. I for one love all kinds of animals and feel that they should be treated with much more love and respect, at the least with some sort of humane treatment, however, I find it really hard to express this love when someone puts a rack of ribs or steak on my dinner plate. Although Disney has talking animals, children still love their chicken tenders, therefore I do not think that language is the barrier between human and animal interaction. To say, “we hate the bad wolf because we are competing for the same food niche” does not convince me. I do not like the big bad wolf because I feel sorry that he is going to kill the piggies. I guess it is easier for me to eat pork because I am not the one killing it, but I am sure that if I were supposed to kill my own cow for meat, I would become a vegetarian without hesitation. In order to treat animals with love and care, I believe humans need some more interaction with animals. This way it will make it harder to eat animal and therefore lessen the demand for meat. With less demand, then there would be no need to mass-kill animal on farms. Of course, this is only my opinion.
Ninoska Mendoza, Wolfson

Brandon Parr said...

Teeth are biologically intended for eating meat. Animals with teeth eat other animals so why shouldn't humans use their teeth to eat meat as well. Also, if animals had a language, it would be more controversial. But, animals have killed and eaten humans beings and we have a language. Take a look here to see how many people a year are killed by animals.
I don't agree with the way that animals are treated in factories though because we should be more thankful for them and treat them better before we kill them and eat their families.
Brandon Parr

Anonymous said...

The Giant Triton snail is an animal in the ocean that is known for its beautiful conch shell; its main source of food is the Crown-of-thorns starfish. Suppose that one day the Giant Triton snails decided that it was wrong to eat other animals and became herbivores. These snails were just trying to be considerate of their prey’s pain and felt that continuing to eat these creatures would be inhumane. Because of this, the Crown-of-thorns starfish was left to reproduce unchallenged by their natural predator. These starfish are also carnivores and their natural prey are corals. Left unchecked, these starfish have taken over and decimated the coral reefs, which has led to disastrous consequences for all the other animals that live in its ecosystem. Although the Giant Triton snails had good intentions when they stopped eating their source of meat, their actions ruined an entire ecosystem.
As much as humans believe to be special, we are just animals. We are organisms that have the same inputs and functions as that of any other animal. Our only difference is our self-awareness that allows us to empathize with our prey. This does not mean that we must stop eating meat. Humans eating other animals is the same as the Giant Triton eating the Crown-of-thorns starfish, and if we stop eating our natural prey we will cause similar consequences. But, just because nature is cruel does not mean we have to be. We must raise and kill these animals with at least some respect and dignity. This idea is possible and it being done, there are several places in the U.S. that follow Temple Grandin’s layout of a humane way to kill cows. Our goal should not be to get rid of eating meat, but to change the people’s view of how to kill without the animal having to fear or feel pain.

-Emily Ortega

Sarah Gamundi said...

I eat meat and have always considered stopping because I do feel bad in the "narcissistic" way you talk about here in this post. I don't know whether I eventually will, but I do always come close. I know that killing meat for food has always been a practice, but a practice that has come to be less of a necessity through time.
In addition, I do not know much of the specifics about the various ways animals are killed in the present day, but I have heard they are extremely brutal. If meat consumption continues, and I believe it most likely will, I do agree with those that think it should be regulated because of the sad reality that I feel sorry for them in the "narcissistic" way.
Meat does provide a lot of nutrients vital to the body, but I do know they can be found from other food sources. Therefore, I have come to the conclusion that the killing of these animals should be done in a more humane way and in less of "slaughter-like" way.

Sarah Gamundi, Wolfson

demian perelmuter said...

Being from an Argentinian descent, eating meat and "Parrilla" is part of our weekly life. Seven years ago, we decided to start eating "kosher" meat. this provides at least the knowledge that the animal,being cow or chicken, that they did dont suffer physically the moment they were killed. It is a law in the kosher world that the animal should not suffer and is supervised by specialist in the field. Meat is a food that humans need for survival, there may be protein supplements, but they are not equivalent to meat. I believe if we are to eat meat, we should at least try to have some sympathy for the animals life. By eating kosher, at least in my conscious I know that when the animal was placed to sleep, he didn't suffer (receive a shock to the head). Kosher meat should be more advertised and consumed in higher quantities. Unless something else in the future may be done to provide meat ethically to those animals.

Demian Perelmuter
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