Henry Beston wrote:
“We need another and a wiser and perhaps more mystical concept of animals.... We patronise them for their incompleteness, for their tragic fate of having taken form so far below ourselves. And therein we err, and greatly err. For the animals shall not be measured by man. In a world older and more complete than ours they move finished and complete, gifted with extensions of the senses we have lost or never attained, living by voices we shall never hear. they are not brethren, they are not underlings; they are other nations, caught with ourselves in the net of life and time, fellow prisoners of the splendour and travail of the earth”
I would add that I believe enlightenment, as Buddha describes, carries the being to an even higher plain where all those suffering travails and splendours are kindred spirit on the path.
Most of what is written here also is a case against testing on animals.
ELEVEN REASONS FOR NOT EATING MEAT
1. Cruelty:- As the population of the world increases, the demand for meat will increase and the land available to produce it will shrink so there will be an increasing number of battery farms. My own experience of that, (my cousin owned one), was that the piglets at a few weeks old get taken from their mother, (who is a barn with little room to move), and taken to a dark warehouse where they are kept in small pens for five months until that day a lorry comes to take them to the slaughterhouse and that is the only daylight they get to see. I don't understand church backing for this but the last Archbishop of Canterbury did. I have less of a problem with organic free range breeding
2. Resources:- In order to maintain biodiversity it is necessary for there to be wilderness areas where wild animals can roam. This means the pressure for land exploitation for agriculture must be reduced but an acre of land dedicated to arable farming produces about 5 times as much food value for human consumption as one dedicated to animal rearing or providing food for battery farms. The pressure for land to breed animals on is leading to the destruction of the Brazilian rain forest (nothing to do with pubic hair styles that). The rain forest is a repository for an enormous percentage of the world's biodiversity and is a breathing lung to provide us with life on this planet.
3. Human health: Animal husbandry involves the widespread and indiscriminate use by untrained farmers of antibiotics. Every time a pig shows signs of illness to prevent it spreading to the rest of the warehouse out comes the hypodermic for instance. This usage leads inevitably to more resistant strains of bacteria . As pigs and birds provide breeding grounds for human influenza there is inevitably a reduction in the potential for mankind to resist these diseases.
4. My health: A vegetarian diet is more healthy and encourages easy but closer inspection of one's eating habits. Excessive meat consumption has been shown to lead to cancers of the intestine. A vegetarian diet provides a good range of vitamins minerals and proteins.
5. Biodiversity: In areas where open competition is possible i.e., where ownership of land is not claimed or very tightly regulated, exploitation to extinction occurs, such as has happened very nearly with North Sea Cod. Of course on wild land the consequences can be even worse because there is very little cover for animals to hide from man in. It is a free for all where the nastiness most selfish person will see themselves as successful for destroying the opportunity to take pleasure in the diversity life on this earth that many concerned people partake of. The destruction of the habitat of the Sumatran Tiger in Indonesia is a classic example of this.
6. Social equality and biodiversity: If I eat meat, an African in a poor country will say, hypothetically, to me, give me some of your meat because my family is starving. our society in general will say, you can't have my meat but you can have some rice and salt and sugar solution. The African may then feel entitled to go into the forest and kill the last Red Colobus monkey left on the planet, saying to the west "Oh yeah you claim to be interested in biodiversity but your arguments are not very persuasive if my family must die to preserve it.
7. Religion.: The spiritual life cannot be as yet proved. If it exists then reincarnation may be possible as Hindus and Buddhists believe. If that is true then I would not like to be bred for food only and most people would not relish the prospect.
8. Life on other planets: In the vast infinity of space, it is likely there are other advanced life forms. If they came to earth and had superior intellects to us they might say to themselves "Let us herd humanity into warehouses and breed them for food because they justify breeding animals for food that they are related to by evolutionary genetics by claiming intellectual superiority. As we are superior to these humans we should do unto them as they have done to others. (This in a sense, with connotations of space, relates the war in Iraq of the first decade of the 21st century to Star Trek - see the final frontier page)
9. Political : The simple fact is animals have no political voice. This is a similar position to the foetus facing abortion. For the moment I will digress to this analogy in order to extend the arguments for vegetarian lifestyle. Naturally, up to one third of conceptions end in miscarriage, perhaps because the human body naturally rejects and attacks foreign proteins. So to object to abortion is not to support the religious arguments that are wheeled out about the soul being a gift from God since one must then ask, why does God abort one third of conceptions through the nature he created. But it is to offer the hypothetical right to a political voice to the foetus. The foetus is described by abortion supporters as being dependent on the mother’s body and therefore it is her right to control what happens to her body that is paramount. The foetus should not be considered in their opinion. My contention is that this is a dangerous position as unemployed people, for instance, are dependent on the culture around them. We give our time and money to support the sick and unemployed who cannot afford to look after themselves. This is good and compassionate. However, if we then support abortion are we not then encouraging a right wing agenda where the sick and unemployed can go to hell for all anyone cares? Then the poor, sick and unemployed will depend not on taxation for support but charity. Even the Romans I should point out, cruel as they were, organised food for the poor. Equally for animals, if socialists do not have an agenda of compassion for animals in regards to farming and medical experiments, do they have a socialist agenda at all? Are they just worrying about the people who have a vote because they will be the caucus that ensures they are elected, while ignoring the potential of the foetus and totally ignoring animals as they will never have the right to vote against a socialist. My concern is that the genuine need for a socialist opposition to conservative politics to create a balance, may eventually be extinguished by the logic which identifies socialists as caring for those with votes, but not a single foetus. They do not have a vote, nor of course do animals, so this will be identified as completely two-faced and selfish. As selfish as the most extreme conservatives the socialists claim to oppose.
10. The Future: The increasing demand for resources is fueled by consumerism and population growth. The demand caused by the pressure of population growth for limited recyclable resources and the inevitable pressure on non-recyclable resources even without growth means that prices will rise. As they rise, sensible choices, like organic food, will become unaffordable for some, this means that the market for organic will reduce so more pesticides and fertilisers will be used to harvest non-organic foods. In turn that will create more dead zones in the sea where only algae can breed and there are no fish. These zones are huge areas around the coasts. This means less ocean protein available as fish so more demand will be made of the land for cattle ranching and battery farming. These need food supplies and meat will be demanded by those who have money so then along with the demand of the rich for biofuels there will also be the demand for acreage for fodder for animals, both these will reduce the food available for humans so prices go up again. Thus billions will either starve or be hungry. Only being vegetarian solves this crisis by allowing over three times the food value to be extracted from an acre of land annually compared to livestock raising.
11. Residual, Current and Future Chemical Pollution: In his book “The Making of the 21st Century”, James Martin, a scientists, analyst and futurologist of international repute, (he wrote about the Internet and mobile phones a long time before they were on the market in his earlier book “The Wired Society”), describes how pollution is accumulating in humans. The results of the pollution include derailed sexual development, sexual confusion, a doubling in frequency of abnormalities of the sex organs including penises with misplaced holes and undescended testicles. The major current pollutants are POPs and PCBs. The first, Persistent Organic Pollutants, accumulate in the largest quantities in the fatty tissue of humans , seals and any other top predators. They are the cause of, among other things behavioural changes and thyroid function problems. The second, Polychlorinated Biphenyls, also interfere with the endocrine system of all life forms. Though now banned they are in everywhere, from lakes to penguins in Antarctica. The highest concentration is in the human population of Broughton Island off Greenland where the diet consists primarily of fish and mammals from the sea that are also high up the predator tree. Now even polar bears have mutated into Hermaphrodites. the fact is as the speed of technological innovation increases, nobody knows when a dangerous chemical will be released without science understanding the consequence. A meat diet is far more likely to lead to genetic mutations caused by these type of chemical than a vegetarian diet.
See also the page on Genetically Modified foods