A person may describe themselves as an animal lover. This term would assume a fondness for all animals. So the more I research into animal welfare and factory farming, I find it harder to understand why some animal lovers differentiate between, for example, a cow and a dog. Both are mammals. Both drink milk from their mother (sometimes this privilege isn’t given to a calf). Both experience pain. Yet (only applicable to most countries) one is factory farmed and the other is man’s best friend.
People post things on Facebook… And sometimes I notice them. Over a small period of time, a friend of mine shared some articles. Let’s call this person Facebook Friend.
On the 28th May 2016, a young boy climbed into the gorilla enclosure at Cincinnati Zoo, US. To ensure the young boy’s safety, a sharpshooter shot and killed, Harambe, the gorilla who was living in the enclosure at the time. Soon after the event, Facebook Friend shared an article blaming the parents negligence and how it was unfair that Harambe was killed.
On the 6th June 2016 Morgan, the killer whale, appeared to beach herself at Loro Parque Zoo, Tenerife. Animal activists were quick to claim that she was trying to kill herself, the zoo denied this and claimed that she was displaying very normal behaviour, however experts in the field claim that she was attempting to escape other whales. Facebook
Friend shared an article which implied that Morgan was suffering. Facebook Friend was ‘heartbroken’.
On the 8th June 2016, Facebook Friend shared another article. A photoshopped picture of a stereotypical butcher standing next to a humongous roll of meat, alongside the caption: “A lamb stuffed inside a pig stuffed inside a cow. Because you don’t win friends with salad.”
I guess it’s like as George Orwell says (in Animal Farm):
Facebook Friend would call themselves an animal lover.
The sequence of events above serves as a great example of an animal lover, who only loves a select number of species. There would be uproar if someone ate Harambe, yet it is still considered extreme when someone chooses not to eat a cow, chicken, lamb etc. (Side note: there isn’t any uproar about holding an animal captive in a zoo… Just uproar when the animal is shot.)
What about dogs? It is normal to eat dog in some countries, yet there would be outrage if it were done in the Western world (although it is legal, yet taboo). Jonathan Safran Foer makes a great point in his book (which I would recommend to people of all diets) Eating Animals:
“… But unlike all farmed meat, which requires the creation and maintenance of animals, dogs are practically begging to be eaten. Three to four million dogs and cats are euthanized annually. This amounts to millions of pounds of meat now being thrown away every year. The simple disposal of these euthanized dogs is an enormous ecological and economic problem. It would be demented to yank pets from homes. But eating those strays, those runaways, those not-quite-cute-enough-to-take and not-quite-well-behaved-enough-to-keep dogs would be killing a flock of birds with one stone and eating it, too.”
I am not advocating that we eat our pet dogs, but the opposite. If you find the killing of one species to be cruel and unkind, then try to extend that mindset to the 56 billion farm animals killed every year.