May 202014

animalwelfareTonight ends my Dominion Over Animals post series. I’m stopping at eight installments. Could have done 50.

I hope I’ve conveyed that there’s a lot for reasonable people to think about when it comes to how we treat animals. That’s been the point.

I skipped what I consider to be obvious things. Reasonable people don’t kick their dogs, or bet on cockfights, or eat shark fin soup. But there are a lot of reasonable people who go to the circus, or give no thought to buying eggs at the grocery store.

My friend, partner, and occasional Jiminy Cricket Saintseester aptly pointed out to me that these are invasive tendrils indeed. It’s great to stand up and say you’re going to buy cruelty-free eggs from a local person. Are you going to stop buying mayonnaise too?

Mayonnaise was her example, but the quandary extends to any processed food, or anything you buy in a restaurant, that contains an animal product. Some places take great pains, but most don’t. Generally, if you’re being served in a restaurant, or you’re purchasing a mass-market packaged grocery item, it’s a safe bet something heinous—something of which you wouldn’t approve were you granted an uncensored look—happened to bring it to you.

And that’s the hard one for me to think about. Killer whale shows, elephant shows, hunting—all of that’s easy for me to package and put away. But eating in restaurants? Wow, I don’t think anything else gives me so much pleasure for so little money. What am I party to if I continue unfettered?

Honestly, we’re still circling the problem at my house. We’ve made a solid change on eggs, but that’s all so far. We’ve begun discussing meats, when and how we’ll eat out, and so forth, but heightened awareness has not yet translated to action in those arenas. It’s a primary goal of mine this summer, though, and I anticipate reporting further changes.

Start yourself thinking. You might be surprised where you go on this. There is plenty for a middle-of-the-road sort of person to consider here.

You can read back over the entire post series. If you are interested in giving, learning further, or both, I recommend the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. The ASPCA is a grounded and practical charity top to bottom, unlike some other organizations vying for your money and attention in this arena.

Thank you, readers, for exploring this topic with me. May none of us ever lose our capacities to learn and change.

 Posted by at 8:36 pm
May 132014

animalwelfareSo the past two weeks have been about buying animals and animal products with consideration given to how the animals lived.

A natural reaction to espousing such practices is “yeah, that’s great. You get to a certain point in life, making a certain amount of money, and decide to discover principle in how you eat.”

I sympathize with such a reaction.

Factory farming definitely keeps the price of meat down. Indeed, that’s a standard defense of it, and it’s not without legitimate ethical and moral considerations. I’ve no doubt that a great many farmers regard their roles in the food supply with considerable gravity.

It’s also rather similar to my standard reaction to the fully industrialized First World countries deigning to dictate to emerging economies how they will control their respective carbon footprints. It is ridiculously and comically haughty for us to look down our noses at China, India, &c. and demand hobbling regulations to which we ourselves were not subject. Prevention isn’t happening. Mitigation is the proper policy context.

But I digress.

I’m not sure what I can say to the objection that will please anyone. Yes, it does take more money to decide you’re going to purchase cruelty-free eggs and free-range livestock and whatever else. Lots of folks would love to know where $50 for next week’s groceries is coming from. Dropping $400 on an auxiliary freezer is kooky talk.

I’ll offer that it’s not a bad opportunity to try to influence the typical American diet, which tends to contain way too much fat. A great many of us eat more meat than we should. It’s highly plausible to scale it back and realize benefits of both health and finance. And two things I definitely learned during my vegetarian Lent were that 1) there are a lot of good alternatives out there; and 2) your affection for saturated fat wanes considerably in less time than you think.

There are also grave considerations about Earth’s capacity to sustain our collective appetite for meat—considerations that are far less nebulous than some of those surrounding global warming.

It’s going to take a paradigm shift. But paradigm shifts begin with enthusiastically engaged practitioners. Enthusiastically engaged practitioners move in a particular direction realizing that they themselves may not see the new world, but that their agitation is necessary for anyone to ever see it.

This is the penultimate entry in the Dominion Over Animals post series at I hope you’ve enjoyed reading it as much as I have writing it. We’ll wrap up next week.

 Posted by at 7:47 pm
Apr 292014

When we start talking about animals, our relationships with them, and our responsibilities to them, then factory farming is eventually going to use up a lot of the oxygen in the room. Guess we better start talking about that. Remember, I’m not an “animal rights” guy in the way you thought of when I used […]

 Posted by at 1:22 pm
Apr 222014

I’m 43 years old, I’ve lived in Alabama all my life, and I’ve never been hunting. I’ve been around it, here and there, all my life. I mean, I could effortlessly list 50 people I know who hunt. Seems like I ought to like it, actually. I like guns. I like being in the woods. […]

 Posted by at 8:27 pm
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