Archive for the ‘Animals’ Category


Veganism, People, and Nature

September 7, 2010

George Monbiot has a fascinating column today. I’ll try to pick up the book he mentions, Simon Fairlie’s Meat: A Benign Extravagance, sometime in the near future. Here’s the upshot of Monbiot’s piece:

In the Guardian in 2002 I discussed the sharp rise in the number of the world’s livestock, and the connection between their consumption of grain and human malnutrition. After reviewing the figures, I concluded that veganism “is the only ethical response to what is arguably the world’s most urgent social justice issue”. I still believe that the diversion of ever wider tracts of arable land from feeding people to feeding livestock is iniquitous and grotesque. So does the book I’m about to discuss. I no longer believe that the only ethical response is to stop eating meat.

Screech! Say what? In some circles, this is heresy.

What’s fascinating is that, if true, utilitarians should be the first to capitulate. I’ve just posted this article to my facebook page. We’ll see what the responses are, but before I get any feedback, I anticipate an outcry from the serpent crowd. Still, if they stick to their doctrine, some amount of suffering should offset the suffering of any individual animal.


Lion Burgers

June 24, 2010

No, but seriously, what is wrong with people?

During one of the restaurant’s Wine-Pairing dinners, where they serve wine with other uncommon meats such as wild boar, customers heard about the availability of lion meat and seemed interested in trying it. [Owner Cameron] Selogie was inspired by the FIFA World Cup’s location and decided to serve the meat to coincide with the games.

The restaurant advertised their decision through their e-mail newsletter club to keep the attention to a minimum, but one member and animal activist, Susan Cooper, spread the word. —

Okay. Right. It’s just a large cat. But… is nothing sacred? Just because something is there doesn’t mean that we have to eat it. I’m sure it tastes different than other meat. I’m sure it’s probably quite tasty if prepared well. (Not sure that a burger meets that qualification, but that’s another story.) I’m sure some people will pay a pretty penny to eat it…

But why? Why go to such extraordinary lengths to eat a large mammal in a ground-up patty?

It must be true that there are an enormous number of things in the world that could be ingested that haven’t yet been ingested.

Suppose we find some rare krill population near the deep horizon rig. Would your first thought be, upon discovering this krill population, that we should identify some way to cook and eat it?

It’s a very strange food psychosis that gives a person to think these thoughts. It’s an even further strange food psychosis that gives a person to believe that a rare and exotic meat would certainly taste best as a hamburger.


Kant Was Right

June 18, 2010

…at least on one aspect of animal cruelty.

In other news, what the heck happened to Germany and England? And yes, the US was robbed.

In Portland for an environmental conference. Back soon.


Color Me Terrified

February 20, 2010

The New York Times has an Op-Ed today on cows genetically-modified to experience less suffering.

We are most likely stuck with factory farms, given that they produce most of the beef and pork Americans consume. But it is still possible to reduce the animals’ discomfort — through neuroscience. Recent advances suggest it may soon be possible to genetically engineer livestock so that they suffer much less.

Among the many things that such an innovation suggests to me, it also strikes me as at least one counter-example to Singer’s argument. The way I see it, massive factory farms present a significant ethical problem even if the animals are modified in such a way that they stand mindlessly penned in their quarters, oblivious to their impending fate. It’s not the pain that’s doing the work, it’s what we do that matters.