14 May 2012
Many consider humans to be "rational animals" but Johnathan Swift said that humans are animals capable of reason. I agree. Because of this capability we mull over what is right and what is wrong. For some of us this morality issue exists in what we chose to eat. But our ability to "reason" interferes with our instincts.
Can you say that you eat instinctively? That you just know what to eat? I didn't think so. Whether it's your mother, television ads, health blogs, or diet books there is something that dictates what we eat. I've found that no matter what the influence is on an individual's consumption, guilt is constantly tied to food.
This guilt is a consequence of reason and goes against animal instinct. Because we are constantly fed information on which foods are good for us, what food comes from good sources, and what food is morally right to eat, we over-think. This over-thinking results in regret and guilt. In some cases the guilt may be justified and helpful. If a person eats McDonald's for breakfast, Burger King for lunch, and Pizza Hut for dinner every day this guilt might help them change their habits. On the other hand an individual who has spent time reading books, magazines, and blogs on fitness may feel the same dose of guilt for eating a frozen yogurt.
I do feel the second variety of guilt on occasion but my biggest source of guilt is based on a morality issue rather than a heath one. I've been a vegetarian since I was 10 years old. I am turning 21 in a month. Lately, I've done a lot of thinking on what I want to eat, what I should eat, and what is right for me to eat.
Here's what I've come up with:
There are certain foods that certain animals are meant to eat. Because of these divisions we have herbivores, carnivores, and omnivores. Human beings are omnivores but unlike other omnivores we have this capability to reason. Some humans utilize this reason and come to the conclusion that meat should not be consumed by human beings because it is wrong. What makes it wrong? These people don't get mad at birds for eating worms. Human consumption of meat is the thing that helped us survive. Survival cannot be wrong.
I think some people feel that humans have an unfair advantage. We are not hunting anymore and if we do it's for sport. I will say that I am against raising animals FOR food. It seems cruel to harbor life for the sole purpose of death and (obviously) factory-farm torture is a bad thing. Because of this I am strongly against consuming meat that comes from large farms. These farms also pump their animals full of hormones and treat them poorly for the duration of their ill-purposed lives. These actions produce unsafe environments for both the animals and the humans consuming the animals.
I think that a life made for death is wrong. However, I do not think it is wrong to eat animals - IF the animals are taken care of, fed well, and allowed to enjoy the life they have OR caught in the wild where they lived their lives as they were meant to live. But our reasoning shouldn't end with the consideration of where the animal was raised. We must appreciate the animal's sustenance. By living, consuming, dying, and providing matter for consumption the animal perpetuates the cycle. One day every one of us will provide food for the soil that feeds the plants that feeds the animals (unless you have your ashes sent to space ;]). We are part of the cycle and thinking that we are so special that we escape the cycle is moronic.
A rational animal realizes that it is still an animal. Biologically we are meant to eat meat therefore it is "right" to eat meat. However, we have evolved into a power that believes itself to be more important than other animals. Because of this power we no longer value where our food comes from. As rational animals we have the ability to think about our food. So eating meat is natural but using our power to hurt other animals is not. It is that cruelty and ignorance that I am against.
*Braces self for onslaught of tomatoes*