Faith Based Carnivorism
One of my favorite blogs, Environmental Economics, has posted a follow-up to a really great conversation they are having (littered with some less-thoughtful babble) about the economics and ethics of eating meat.
The economic facts cited regarding eating meat are all sound. - Namely that the only reason meat is so dang cheap now, allowing us to eat so much, is that corn subsidies skew the market. If we were really paying full price for the beef, including all the externalities, it would not be as cheap or widely consumed as it is today.
The thing that really gets me, though, about the arguments against him is people equating religion with the ethics of not wanting to harm living, scientifically proven sentient beings.
I mean, as far as I can tell, religion, or faith, as we know it in our day and age, is basically believing in something despite the fact that there is no scientifically validate-able evidence for it - or in some cases, believing in something despite the overwhelming scientific evidence against it.
In this case, some commenters claim that the authors bias toward not causing pain to other living sentient creatures is a "religion". How? Where is the faith aspect? Are the commenters trying to say that believing that animals can feel pain is a "faith-based" belief? I'm sorry, but lets take a look inside one of these poor creatures and see all the nerves. Yes it is scientifically
proven evident that animals feel pain. Is the commenter saying that animals don't have thoughts, and that believing they do is "religion"? Sorry again, animals have brains and many animals have IQs higher than that of infants. Although I don't condone it, anyone taking the stance that killing animals is OK because they are not as smart as humans would also have to condone abortion, and in fact, post-natal abortions (and cannibalism?) on the same grounds.
There is no "religion" involved in believing that animals can suffer, and not wanting to be the cause of that suffering. On the other hand, the belief that animals are somehow fundamentally different than humans because they "don't have souls" *is* a faith-based religious belief - were it not, one would think that there would be abundant empirical evidence that 1) humans have "souls", and 2) Animals do not. So isn't the argument *for* eating meat more of a religious argument?
How long will it take before people begin to see that we are not the only living creatures with a right to live on this earth? How long will it be before people are enlightened enough to see that most of us don't need animal products, and even for those that may, that they don't need so much that justifies our unbelievably inhumane treatment? How long will it be before people feel the same way about enslaving cattle and birds as they once did about enslaving people?
I wonder if it is only with the advent of our modern religions that people have come to believe that disrespect for other living beings is the norm, and that having respect for other living beings constitutes "religion".
*Confession. I ate chicken this week. And I am feeling the guilt. I am relatively sure the chicken was grown in a tiny pen where it spent it's entire short life... a life I would rather die at birth than experience... Yet I do it, for some reason, because I am too week to stand up to the social norms, or to wait until I get home from the restaurant to eat my less-destructive, less-pain-inflicting vegan meal... What makes it feel worse was that I was with a fellow "eco-minded" individual and strategic eater... it's not like we pressured each other into getting the chicken, but for some reason I didn't feel like "making a stand" or what not, and just because it was easy, I ordered the chicken. I can only hope that it's instances like this where, upon reflection, I clearly had no reason to contribute to the torture of chickens, and my reflections on those instances, that perhaps will one day free me from the mindset I have inherited from such an illogical society.
*Confession update. I went out again with the same eco-minded individual and his partner Friday. This time we made it a point to choose a vegetarian friendly place (vegan is still *way* to far out there for Tokyo to comprehend). Anyway, this time we had veggie curry with nan-bread, so I feel all cozy and warm now...