Many Americans have pet dogs and cats, and would never consider killing them for sustenance. Yet 'dog meat' is a common dish in the West African nation of Nigeria and has a long history in Chinese cuisine. In the States, there seems to be a double standard where we find it heartbreaking to witness a dog being abused, but yet can justify cows and pigs brought to slaughter to feed a portion of our population.
Animals Without Choice
Alanna Ketler from the activist change group, Collective Evolution notes that since all animals are ‘sentient beings’ capable of experiencing both pain and emotion that their sole purpose on Earth should “not simply be to feed hungry humans.”
“In some parts of the world it may remain necessary to eat animals for survival, but in those cases, the animals at least had a fighting chance, and likely lived a full and happy life before being hunted. People who hunt to survive generally respect the animals, give thanks for their offerings, and use every part of the animal,”says Ketler.
In the video below, Buddhist monk and author of A Plea For The Animals Matthieu Ricard underscores the dichotomy of logic that we use to kill certain animals. He reveals a horrifying statistic: 60 billion land animals and over 1 trillion fish are killed every year for food.
Suggestions for Ethical Change
In viewing this paradox Ricard suggests that awareness is the first step in changing old habits. He indicates we can all make a difference without resorting to an extreme, such as becoming a strict vegan.
Cutting back on animal consumption in our diet, for instance can make a huge difference. While there is controversy pertaining to ‘ethically’ sourced meat and fish, this method does appear to be a more humane approach.
This method involves animals raised in a more natural environment, free to roam and graze before they meet their eventual end. This differs from ‘factory farmed animal products’ where animals lead tortured lives in confined habitats before they are slaughtered.
Another suggestion made by our Buddhist monk is taking part in Meatless Mondays. This is not a new concept. During World War I, the U.S. Food Administration encouraged families to reduce food consumption to aid the war effort. “Food Will Win the War,” the government proclaimed, and 'Meatless Monday' and 'Wheatless Wednesday' were introduced to encourage Americans to do their part.
If not “Mondays,” then consider another day of the week that works best for you and your family. For instance, growing up in an Italian Catholic household, my family abided by the church doctrine of not eating meat on Fridays.
Reducing meat from our diets takes time and effort to not only break old habits but also to recondition our taste buds with new types of food to substitute.
However, taking one step at a time, you’ll soon learn according to Ketler “about what plant-based eating looks like, and discover recipes that you and your family will love” — so that in the end, we can arrive at what she perceives as the best reason for relinquishing meat in our diets: “just like us, animals want to live too.” Your thoughts readers? What ideas have you formulated to address reducing meat in your diets? Comment below with your suggestions.