Song of the moment: Come On Get Higher Matt Nathanson
Heyo, galleons. Guess what you get tonight?
If you guessed a rant, you guessed correctly! Congratulations to you all.
So, I was on Facebook a few days ago (there’s a surprise, no?), when I accidentally got in the middle of an animal rights/pro-vegan/yay animals conversation. Which I promptly left, because I have no patience for that shit.
That is not to say I have a problem with vegetarianism/veganism. It’s no different than people going on a low-sodium diet or something of that ilk. Hell, however you want to eat is your damn business. Healthy, not healthy… it’s hard to say what’s “healthy” and what’s not, anyway. There are pros and cons to most eating habits.
But what I cannot fucking stand are the vegetarians/vegans who then preach to me or attack me for eating meat. Again, what you eat is your own damn business. But since people keep doing this shit…
Here are some common arguments I hear:
1. “But, the poor widdle animals have feewings. They’re people, too.”
No, no they are not people. By the very definition of people, we exclude animals. *clears throat and reads from dictionary* The word “people” is defined as “human beings in general or considered collectively.”
Human. Beings. Not squirrels. Not cows. Not wee ickle chicklets. Humans.
So, arguing for animal rights based on the platform “animals are people too” is perhaps the dumbest thing you can do.
On this topic, let’s watch a quick scene from Donnie Darko:
Now, I know what THEY (I have decided it requires all caps) mean by saying animals are people. THEY’re trying to say that animals have emotions and feel pain and have a quality of life.
Here’s the facts: yes, many scientists agree that animals (rather obviously, in my opinion) are capable of feeling a range of emotions. Fear, pain, pleasure, rage, etc.
And here’s my response: AND?! Whether or not the animals feel pain and fear are of no consequence to me, seeing as I’m not feasting on them while they are still alive. They’re goddamn dead when I eat them.
Because to make the argument that “animals have feelings” when referring to me being a meat eater is actually an argument against slaughterhouses. Which, by the way, are two completely different arguments.
2. “Look at what’s happening in slaughterhouses/chicken farms/<insert meat-production facility here>. How can you live with yourself?”
More so than most of THEM (because I actually bother to educate myself on topics before I run around hollering about them), I’m well aware of what occurs in slaughterhouses and farms. Of the conditions animals are subjected to when raised specifically to become my cheeseburger. And I want to make this very clear: I do not condone that shit. I think we, as a society, could find a much more humane way of getting our meat fix on.
But I still pick up my knife and fork and eat that tasty steak.
Why? It’s a good question. Why do I continue to benefit from an industry I’m rather displeased with? Well, let me ask you this: Why do you continue to buy designer clothes, when so many companies outsource their labor… and then don’t pay their workers (who are often quite young) a decent wage? Why do you do that? Hmm?
Because the world is not fair, folks. We live in a corrupt, fucked up place. Idealism is dashed on the pavement of cold reality. And we know this. But here’s the rub: Clothes are a necessity. We can’t get away with running around nekkid (sadly). And our clothing is a status symbol (thus the name brands). It influences how people see us and where we go in the world. Face it- we need this shit.
Here’s something. What about gasoline? It’s a finite resource, and the ends we’ll go to to acquire it are, frankly, astounding. Drilling in wildlife refuges, fighting wars (allegedly). We kill for it. We destroy for it. Think of all your precious little animals dying every day in the name of that great god, Petroleum. Outrageous, right?
So let me ask you this: Do you still drive? Of course you do. Almost everyone does (even I’m getting over my crippling fear of being behind the wheel). Because, with the advent of gas-powered transport, we’ve built these sprawling cities that require us to drive to get anywhere. We have to drive. We’ve painted ourselves into that corner. And driving a hybrid really doesn’t help that much. Sorry.
Thing is, if we need something, we’ll ignore the atrocities committed to get it to us. Is it sad? Yes. But that’s the current state of things. Once you start rebelling against a cause, it’s a slippery slope to fighting everything. And you don’t have the time, energy, or resources to do that.
So, how do we live with ourselves? Fact of the matter is, we live with ourselves because we must. Such is life.
3. “But we don’t need meat to survive. Besides, being a vegetarian/vegan is healthier.”
…Please go look up the definition of an omnivore. Right now. Fucking do it.
What did you find? Did you find out an omnivore has biologically evolved to eat both plant and animal matter? Did you find out that this isn’t a choice, but that our digestive systems are actually specifically designed to require both types of sustenance?
Well holy hot shit, there’s a goddamn surprise.
We are omnivorous by nature. It’s what our bodies require in order to properly function. Do you know how difficult it is for vegetarians to get all the nutrients they need to survive? Extremely. Vegetarians who aren’t fastidious about their diet suffer from deficiencies in zinc, calcium, Vitamin D, iron, Vitamin B-12, and protein. They have to work extremely hard to get the proper nutrients because their bodies aren’t adapted for solely herbivorous diets.
Don’t get me wrong. Animal products cause plenty of problems. But why is that? It’s not because our bodies can’t handle meat. It’s because we, as a society, don’t understand the concept of moderation.
In nature, we fought and worked our little asses off for food, what with all that hunting and gathering. There was never any guarantee of food. We ate less. And we sure as shit didn’t add chemicals and preservatives to our food. These days, with supermarkets in nearly every town, as much food as you could want is just a hop, skip, and a jump away (provided you have money). We eat larger portions. We eat more of the stuff that we shouldn’t. That’s where health problems come from. By simply cutting back on the bad shit, we can eat extremely healthily.
As I said up top there, it’s difficult to say what’s healthy and what’s not. There are pros and cons to every diet. So it’s a complete fallacy to say that vegetarianism/veganism is healthier than a diet containing animal products.
4. “Omnivores, huh? As a civilized species, we should be able to rise above such petty things as ‘nature’ and ‘instinct.'”
I like this argument. And by like, I mean it makes me want to cheerfully dropkick the people who make it.
Ethics is a tricky subject. What is and is not ethical. Where ethics can be applied. Frankly, nobody is in agreement.
I like to think of it this way. Ethics evolved, as most things did, as a way to further the species. Ponies don’t have ethics because they don’t need them. They are not capable of the types of abstract thought we are. We needed ethics to keep our people in line.
Don’t murder other people, because then the species dies. Don’t sexually abuse other people, because then they get all messed up in the head and this causes all kinds of complications for them and their progeny (if they have any) and will not benefit the species. Don’t bang your family, because your children will be fucked genetically, and we don’t want that shit continuing and polluting the gene pool.
You know, things like that.
Now, that’s just ethics as I choose to see it. Because ethics is intellectual quicksand… or a mental black hole.
Let’s pause for a quick conversation in Company:
Eve: “Ethics is bullshit. It’s the spin we put on our lives to justify what we do. I say, be big enough to live without rationalizations.”
Jones: “Just because I believe in ethics doesn’t mean I have to be Mother Teresa. There’s a middle ground.”
Eve: “Ah, the famous middle ground. Jones, you’re one of those people who’s never had to make a decision between ethics and results. You went to college and learned that companies with satisfied employees tend to be more profitable, and you went, ‘Oh good.’ Because that let you off the hook; you didn’t have to decide what you’d do if it was a choice between one or the other. You won’t work for a tobacco or gun manufacturer because those are bad companies; you’ll only work for good ones, helping them to improve customer satisfaction and produce better products and- oh hey!- just by coincidence, those things increase company profits and get you promoted. Well, you’re in the real world now, and soon enough you’ll realize that sometimes you do have to choose between morals and results, that companies do it every day, even the ones you thought were good- and it’s the managers who choose results who get the promotions. You’ll fret about this for a few days or months or maybe even years until finally, one day, you’ll decide you need to make the tough decisions because this is business, and that’s what everyone else is doing. But because you feel guilty about having a six-figure salary and a current-year car, you’ll sponsor a child in the Sudan and give ten bucks a year to the United Way and you’re still being ethical most of the time- that is, when it doesn’t get in the way of doing your job- and just because you lied a little or stole a little or took a job at a company that makes money off the backs of fourteen-year-old factory workers in Indonesia doesn’t mean you’re not a good person. But you’ll stop bring up the subject of ethics. That, Jones, is the middle ground.”
Just mull that over for a second.
Okay, back to it.
What makes us civilized? Civilized societies are characterized by many things, chief among them urbanism. Funny thing is, if we look at everything that makes us a civilized society, we find we’re fucking nature over all the time by being civilized.
Long distance trade and transport has led to the introduction of non-native plants and animals that destroy ecosystems. Urbanization has torn up huge swathes of forests, plains, and wetlands, driving animals out of their homes and causing many types of life to go extinct. Pollution from said urban areas and factories ruins the atmosphere. Agriculture has likewise destroyed the natural balance of things, as the land is torn up for planting. Conquering nations have salted the soil of the conquered, stopping plants (which, for the most part, are pretty salt-intolerant) from growing in the damaged soil.
Civilization is not the boon of nature- it’s the bane. By creating these havens for ourselves, we are screwing every other living creature on the planet. “Civilized society,” therefore, is a terrible argument for why we should save the animals and not eat them. By “overcoming” our natures, we destroy the world.
Think about it.
5. “The fact remains that animals were not put on this world simply for our pleasure.”
I never said that, now did I? Stop trying to put words in my mouth.
I really hate this argument because, let’s face it, it often crops up just like this. You never said a word about being superior to animals (different, maybe, but not superior). You never said they were made to be our playthings. And yet you get this thrown in your face.
No, animals are not here for our pleasure. Do I think they should be locked away in zoos and forced to provide us with entertainment? No, they shouldn’t. This may stem from my childhood, when I got my head caught in the bars of a polar bear cage and a dolphin stole my bracelet at Sea World…
Seriously though, I don’t like it. Watch The Discovery Channel if you want to see exotic creatures. Or, you know, travel.
Pets, on the other hand, I’m totally okay with. I like the companionship a pet provides. Fucking sue me.
Also, dissecting frogs in the name of science is fine. I’m all for scientific research. THEY should be, too. It was the science of dietetics and nutrition that pinpointed what the human body needs to survive and allowed THEM to become vegetarians/vegans in a healthier way. Praise science.
But seriously, I’m not so self-centered (as a human being, I mean) that I think animals were put upon this earth for us. First, I don’t think they were “put here” at all. Again, I believe in science. But mostly, all animals are part of a very complicated web of interaction that we are also part of. That’s the ecosystem of planet Earth.
No, animals weren’t “put here” expressly for us to eat. But that is how we evolved to acquire sustenance. As did bears and wolves and sharks and anteaters. Technically, plants weren’t “put here” expressly for us to eat, either. Again, this is a poor argument.
6. “But… animals are innocent.”
Fuck. That. Shit.
What is innocence? Being without sin. Well, I guess that really depends on what you consider a sin, doesn’t it?
Shit, we’re back to ethics/morality. Sorry. We’ll skip over that bit.
Animals are not innocent of the “crimes” we worry about. Murder? They kill each other all the time. Rape? Yep, that happens, too. Theft? Yep. Greed? Sure. They exhibit much of the same behavior as us. Consequently, it’s this very fact that helps scientists ascertain that animals have emotions. Crazy, right?
And if you say, “But they don’t know any better,” you are going to get slapped. If they don’t know any better, they are incapable of feeling guilt or remorse of any sort. Are you saying animals don’t have feelings? Oh no, you’re punching holes in your own arguments!
Why do we call lawyers sharks, for example? They’re predatory and ruthless and will stop at nothing to get what they want. And that’s usually blood, right? That doesn’t sound so innocent to me…
Animals aren’t innocents. I’m sorry, but it’s true. Disney lied to you.
7. “Wow, you are a heartless bitch!”
I’m not heartless. I don’t kill puppies or skin kittens. I never shot rabbits with a BB gun (that’s right, not even rabbits). I don’t hunt. I don’t fish. Turns out, I’m super squeamish about killing/hurting living creatures.
Except insects, because they’re icky.
I always have pets, which I treat extremely well. Hell, my cat used to eat better than I did. I don’t approve of animals in captivity (zoos and aquariums), nor do I want them in entertainment shows (like rodeos). I don’t approve of dog/cock fighting. I don’t believe people should neglect or abuse their animals.
That being said, I think it’s perfectly acceptable to eat animals. That doesn’t make me heartless, that makes me a realist. Seeing as we’re naturally inclined to eat them and all. I don’t think animals should suffer (they can feel pain, after all), but that doesn’t mean I don’t think they’re delicious.
Deal with it.
NOTE: I want to say that, for the most part, the vegetarians/vegans I know are pretty respectful. We joke with each other about our eating habits, but they don’t preach at me (nor I at them). It’s those select few that whine and accuse and generally piss me off that this is directed at.
Also, this reflects my personal opinions. In no way, shape, or form do I consider this an objective argument. Or even a well-formulated and thought-out counter argument. It’s a rant. It’s my thoughts, and my rage. Period.