Food for Thought - Is Eating Animals Cruel

Meet Your Food

Food for thought. There was a time, now long past, when humans lived with an awareness toward other species that we “more developed” cultures have now managed to merchandise, pre-packaged and hide away from our consciousness. We now enjoy an artificial bliss toward the consumption of our fellow creatures that is hidden by a willing collusion of modern merchandising, mass marketing and intentional self-denial. We now happily ignore the suffering that our “chicken fingers” or bacon had to go through in order to make it to our plate because we don’t have to actually see the grisly reality that brought them there.

There is no way around it, eating meat is cruel. Whatever your philosophy of food, just the fact that we exist has a huge impact on other beings. Even the most ethical farming practices cause disruption in the environment and wreak havoc on animals that live in the fields. Become a vegetarian or a vegan, or don’t, that is up to you, but at least respect your food enough to know where it comes from and the impact you are having by eating it.

I know, it really isn’t very comforting to know that the hamburger we are about to consume was recently as sentient as our pampered family pets. Buddhist philosophy goes further and says humans have no more privileged place on this planet than any other beings. As modern carnivores, we have managed to almost completely depersonalize the consumption of our fellow animals. How convent it is to “believe” that somehow animal flesh comfortably finds itself onto Saran wrapped Styrofoam trays neatly stacked, graded and labeled in refrigerated bins for us to mindlessly purchase?

Don’t misunderstand me; the thought of being a vegetarian or a vegan for more than a few days strikes me as a denial of my omnivore heritage. We evolved incisors and canine teeth for reasons that go back far beyond human existence and to deny that would also be a deceit. However, shopping in the indigenous markets in San Cristobal de las Casas just reminds me that I need to be more enlightened and mindful of my place on the planet and take a few seconds to give thought to the creatures that I use for the nourishment of my body. On better days it even makes me consider ordering the vegetarian plate.

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