Wednesday, April 15, 2009

"I Have Decided to Eat Nothing That Had a Face"


That was my admittedly sarcastic response about fifteen years ago when I was confronted by a fellow employee at a Christmas dinner when I received an appetizer because it had meat in it. Oddly, the appetizer had shrimp in it, and so as you may suspect, the discussion soon veered from my conversion to the Church of Vegetarianism to the possibility of a shrimp possessing a face.

I remembered that conversation today when I read "A Man with Opinions on Food with a Face" in today's electronic New York Times.

The article discussed the author Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson.
Wayne Pacelle, president of the Humane Society of the United States, said: “He’s had great success in breaking down this notion that animals are commodities or automatons. By showing the richness of their emotional experiences, it makes us ponder our responsibilities to them in a more serious way.”
I think the idea of "commodities" encapsulates my vegetarianism, another facet of which is the ugliness of steroid-and-antibiotic plagued animals grown as crops. The disconnect affected me deeply, and perhaps that disconnect is why I have little trouble with hunters and fishermen who kill, and eat what they kill.

I do not believe those who share in that blood covenant seeking to satisfy some hunger are violating an ethical precept that should stand between humans and other animals. I might catch a catfish, kill, gut, and eat it, but I feel

While Peter Singer, PETA, and others who advocate for recognition that animals suffer in ways that cry out for them to be regarded as creatures equal to humans, we alone seem to be able to pick up the concept of "suffering" and examine it, and form ideas about when it should and should not be tolerated.

Which I do by choosing not to eat meat, while recognizing in spite of that moral choice that I continue to move through this world at the expense of other creatures.
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