VWPA Advice #017: Eating Animals Bred to be Food
How do I respond to the idea that it’s ok to eat animals that were bred to be food?
I hear people say this and I’m stumped – it’s true, but it’s still wrong, right?
There’s a dark and scary road to travel when we think it’s ok to do things to living beings simply because we “created” them. We have laws against child abuse for a reason – just because you produced a new life, does not mean that that life isn’t entitled to certain basic rights.
The same is for animals. We may breed animals for the purpose of becoming food. In fact, we create animals that can’t survive in the wild, who are designed to have short painful lifespans in order to maximize their utility as food. But, this doesn’t matter. Life shouldn’t be owned, and creating life shouldn’t give the creator license to do whatever they please.
During slavery in America, slaves were forced to reproduce and then had their children taken from them to be sold, because they were seen as property. The practice of “breeding” slaves blossomed after laws ended transatlantic slave trading. Slave owners and traders “bred” slaves, using practices that are as repulsive as they are similar to what we call “husbandry” for animals on farms. The slave owners felt completely justified in this practice because slaves were viewed as no better than animals, and because they paid for the parents, and because they facilitated the breeding.
Just typing that paragraph makes me sick to my stomach. I hope that most of us have the same visceral reaction to those facts. We know, inherently, that this is wrong because those slaves were people who had feelings and hopes and dreams and autonomy. They loved and cried and laughed and raged.
This blight (one of many) on my country’s history shows us that labeling a living being an “animal” does not justify breeding them for selfish purposes. Creating life creates responsibility, not entitlement. Life brought into the world should be protected and cared for, not exploited.
Yikes… this question gives me the heebie-jeebies. People really ask vegans this? Seriously?? *sigh* Okay okay refocusing now…
Since Nichole did such a fabulous job tackling the concept of ownership I am just going to make a brief point. How or why a life is ‘bred’ shouldn’t determine how they are treated in their life. The animals that are currently bred for food still feel pain, they still have social needs and emotions. They aren’t any different than animals born outside of our food system… It’s a pretty odd belief that just because they are bred to suffer, that the suffering is justified or acceptable. Because that’s essentially what is being communicated when this question is asked right? That these animals are bred for food, they are bred to die so what does it matter that they are tortured and killed? I think we can all agree that it probably matters a whole heck of a lot to the animal, they don’t want to die! And they shouldn’t have to just because people want to satisfy their desire for flesh.
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