Dogs and Dinner
Some time ago, there was a post circulating on Facebook about a dog that was allegedly abused during the making of a film. The dog was thrown into a pool of water and it was evident from the footage that the dog was less than thrilled. There was an outcry. Animal abuse, animal rights, etc. The dominating viewpoint was that they had no right to do this to an innocent dog, and “something” should be done.
I watched the video a couple of times. The dog wasn't injured and I'm guessing that when the dog isn't acting he/she probably has a pretty good gig. After all, any animal that makes you money is most likely treated well in its downtime. I commented on this and I also commented that I wondered how and why this was so different than the treatment of non “pet” animals. We're all very concerned about the dog, we don't care much about the pig or the chicken or the cow. It boggles my mind some, why we choose which animals are “worthy” of our love and attention, while another animal is roasting in our oven. We don't give the roasted animal's life, before it became our dinner, a moment's thought. The odds are that it may have never even walked on grass, it probably lived in cramped quarters, it most likely did not graze freely, and I personally think the words “humane slaughter” are ridiculous.
So why do we compartmentalize this way? Why are we so horrified that there are cultures who eat dogs? Why is that even an issue? I have a dog. I love him to pieces. We go on long hikes, he sleeps in his bed beside my bed, he follows me around the house. He's a part of my family. Is he more worthy than a cow? Or a pig? Nope. Not even a little bit. He's just one of the lucky ones. We react to what we see, or what we are shown. We tend to ignore all the rest. We choose to not think about factory farming and slaughter. We choose to not spend a lot of time contemplating what is actually on our plate. We like to post memes about how much we love bacon, and then watch videos of pet piglets being cute and post about how we want one.
Carnism is a term coined by Dr. Melanie Joy, PhD. Dr. Joy says: “Its just the way things are. Take a moment to consider this statement. Really think about it. We send one species to the butcher and give our love and kindness to another apparently for no reason other than because it's the way things are. When our attitudes and behaviors towards animals are so inconsistent, and this inconsistency is so unexamined, we can safely say we have been fed absurdities. It is absurd that we eat pigs and love dogs and don't even know why. Many of us spend long minutes in the aisle of the drugstore mulling over what toothpaste to buy. Yet most of us don't spend any time at all thinking about what species of animal we eat and why. Our choices as consumers drive an industry......If we choose to support this industry and the best reason we can come up with is because it's the way things are, clearly something is amiss. What could cause an entire society of people to check their thinking caps at the door and to not even realize they're doing so? Though this question is quite complex, the answer is quite simple: carnism.”
It took me a long time to acknowledge these discrepancies within myself; a lot of years of “pretending” that this mentality was just fine. It isn't though. The level of hypocrisy is actually mind-boggling. Do you love animals? Or do you not? There really is no in-between.