Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Meat eating is just a tradition - let's challenge it!

 I have been thinking about the ethics of meat-eating for most of my life. Two things have been a huge influence. 1. Moving to live in the countryside and actually coming face-to-snout with the animals that we eat, recognising their characters and complex lives. 2. The amazing discoveries about animal intelligence and self-awareness. This shows us that even fish can have lives far beyond the instinctual, and even invertebrates such as cephalopods can have rich feelings including the ability to play and feel fear. Even 'dumb reptiles' such as crocodiles have been shown to have character and feelings.

I find it wrong to eat people. Broaden that a bit, and I find it wrong to eat beings - to eat animals that can love, play, and fear. There is little if any difference in the level of self-awareness of a chimp, a dolphin, a pig and a crow. It's only tradition that leads us to eat pigs but not dolphins, and tradition is simply not good enough of a reason for me. If we came across pigs today without past experience I have no doubt that the idea of eating these animals would be considered shocking, just as the idea of eating a dog is for most of us.

Up until now I have seen at least pescatarianism as a moral necessity, and I'm now having doubts about even that.

If you came across farm animals now without the traditions of eating them, if you came across these social, playful, intelligent animals, you would not eat them. We criticise, based on reason, traditional medicine, traditional treatment of women and children. Let's have the courage to challenge our traditions of farming and meat-eating. 

That's the end of my sermon!

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