The Earth is a mother for human beings, animals and nature. There are many reasons for me and my family to be strict vegetarians. Some are religious, some are ethical. My reasons are primarily ethical.
What we choose to eat makes a potent statement about our ethics and our view of the world -- about our very humanity. Whenever we choose not to buy meat, and eggs, we withdraw our support from cruelty to animals, undertake an economic boycott of factory farms, and support the production of vegetarian foods.
Regardless of any other beliefs we hold and however else we choose to lead our lives, each of us can decide to act with kindness and empathy. Making humane choices is the ultimate affirmation of our humanity and compassion. Ultimately, living with compassion means striving to maximize the good we accomplish. It is all very easy to say that individuals must wrestle with their consciences--but only if their consciences are awake and informed. I feel that industrial societies today hide animals’ suffering. For modern animal agriculture, the less the consumer knows about what’s happening before the meat hits their plate, the better.
Is this an ethical battle? Should we be reluctant to let people know what really goes on?
Generally when I speak to meat-eaters about this topic, I used to tell them that there are two counters to the human vs. other predator comparison: humans know that their actions cause pain and suffering (although there is a tendency toward denial), and humans have a choice between eating plants and animals (many predators do not). Of course the answers that I get back are that humans are allowed to participate in the ecosystem just as wolves or cats would.
But there is big difference between a band of hunter gatherers and modern human civilization. We have moved outside of any natural position in the Earth's ecosystem. Yes, in the Earth’s naturally existing eco-system, some animals will die as prey of their predators, but they have the opportunity to survive and flourish based on their skill and luck, not to mention how spectacularly hearty and different their environment is, when they are in their original natural surroundings. They are obviously the most happy in that natural eco-system where they are supposed to be!
Today Cows, sheep, pigs, chickens, turkeys, and fish have no choice but to live a fore-ordained course from birth to the dinner plate. They are quartered, bred, and slaughtered for food in ways that are strikingly different from their natural lives. They live their entire lives in slavery, without any chance of a natural life; their existence is often miserable, amounting to torture; and then they are killed. The lack of opportunity; opportunity to compete, breed, evolve and express themselves - things that they would have done in their natural habitat is unacceptable!
They are fed growth hormones so that they grow unnaturally fast and fat. They are fed food that they would not naturally eat (e.g. herbivores are fed slaughterhouse remains). Pigs and chickens are raised in metal cages their entire lives; in some cases they grow large enough that their bodies strain the wire mesh of the cages. Male chicks are thrown in plastic bags when they hatch and smothered because only a few roosters are needed; female chickens are debeaked without the use of painkillers. Cows are kept pregnant most of the time for their milk; their calves do not receive their milk, but are fed less nutritious substitutes, kept crated and chained for immobility, and then killed and sold as veal. Fish are nearly extinct in the oceans as the result of over fishing.
A PLEA TO YOU: The immeasurable suffering of animals today can be most effectively diminished whenever people stop eating meat or stop supporting any other causes that would augment their suffering/killing. I and my entire family invite you to help us help the animals and put an end to their suffering. Please also visit www.meat.org. It has a very graphical and emotionally disturbing video but will really put into perspective all what I am talking about.