"Until we can answer the question as to what matters to people other than experiences, that does not also apply to animals, we cannot reasonably justify our treatment of animals."
The past several weeks I have eaten vegetarian. Around December 22nd or so "I" had a complete revolution. My vegetarian diet was an indirect consequence: I didn't think about it until later, it just happened. I decided to choose what I put in to my body, and that comprised of lots of fresh vegetables. Almost every "meat" I encountered was unhealthy, really. Not to say my intuition is perfect, but it guided me through research and experience, to toss out most processed meats for their content and the nature of their production. It's guided economically, unfortunately for our health and morals.
After a few weeks I started to question our treatment of animals. In Red Dwarf's "Better Than Life" book Lister is about to stab a giant cockroach from the garbage planet for food, but before doing it, stops and says, "I am a reformed species. No more killin'." I thought about that for a second.
Proposition: If we could replace our diets with one that did not kill any animals, why not?
Objections seem to be a) taste: I like the taste and texture of meats, b) it's healthy:the protein I get from meat is a part of good living, c) it's natural: killing other species for food is a natural process, and thus morally acceptable, especially because d) animals have no consciousness of their lives, only instinct and experience, and without consciousness they have no concept of time or wants or desires. With no desires, they are indifferent to whether or not we kill them for food.
However, many of these problems are either inadequate or could be fixed. For instance, what if we could recreate not only taste and texture, but its content of protein? In fact, we could make it even more healthy with the help of science. All it comes down to is the concept of c) killing is natural and d)animals are indifferent. Both of which are inadequate.
Since humans have a higher awareness than animals, it is wrong to justify human behavior with animal behavior. For instance, it is quite normal behavior for female black widows to eat their male counterpart after sex, but in human behavior this action is bizarre and unthinkable. Just because an animal may kill for food, and just because we used to, does not mean that we necessarily should. This is a decision we must make in this day and age of understanding.
Furthermore to say animals don't have feeling is ridiculous. Even animals have a type of memory and range of feeling. For us to judge this, or any life, as insignificant because it does not equal our own is misguided. It lacks respect for experience and life.
Even if we do eat animals, doesn't it follow that if we value our own experiences and life, when we create life (that has feelings and experiences), we should value it enough to give it a pleasant experience? Our treatment is completely negative and even abusive. If animals have any range of feeling or experience of enjoyment, this most certainly is on the lower side. For such higher creatures of consciousness, we treat animals with indifference.
Do animals care? They don't seem to be revolting, because they don't know enough to revolt. Do they know enough to want? The moral dilemma is this: since an animal cannot decide for itself because it doesn't know enough, is it the obligation of the higher creature to decide for it, with what an animal would want? Or, do animals simply not know enough to want: thus, just living is sufficient? If animals don't have wants they would have no response to pleasure-pain. Since they obviously do, animals do want pleasure, and avoid pain, just like humans. In this sense, even if we do eat animals, should their life not be at least pleasant? If that is their only instinctual want, is there experience not important? If animal experience is unimportant, then our experience must be justified as more than just our pleasure aim. If morals stem from reasonably distinguishing what emits positive and creative forces, and life affirming values, we must ultimately reflect this with our actions in reality.
Speaking in human terms: If you could live 1000 years of either agonizing pain, or absolute happiness, but after each scenario lost all memory of those years, does it matter which you would choose? Afterwards, surely it would not matter, but if you could knowingly choose between the two, you would choose happiness obviously. The moment still matters while it happens, regardless of whether or not you know about it. I like ice cream, even though after I eat it, it is gone. Does this concept apply to animals? They would never know, like our situation, but if they did, they would surely prefer a pleasurable life.
In today’s society, it really doesn’t matter. We are surely not ready on the whole to give up our instinctual pleasure that has bonded with meat. Our ancestral background grew up on this meat, so what right do we have against that? Well, our ancestors also violently killed each other over territory, like animal packs with our tribal groups. Have we not evolved beyond this violence? Even if it is a part of our nature, this is to say, if you believe violence is a part of our nature, it is still in our benefit and rational interest, as a higher thinking species to assimilate, or transfigure this instinct into a higher one; in other words, to master it, and not let it master you.
In the end, if our society is ever to evolve into one of action by our affirmative and positive values, arrived at mutually and expressed individually, then at that point, we will have to align our actions of whatever morality, virtues, or appreciations, of love, respect, reverence, or harmonizing we come to with consistency in our actions. Surely, in the end, our instinct to kill and take life away as opposed to promoting it will be replaced. We are not guided by our material, base instincts any longer. A higher instinct: intelligence, has taken hold, which bred the ability to distinguish between positive and negative values evolving through society and communication, with individual breakthroughs in science and philosophy leading one to affirmative, life-positive and promoting values, and are the essence of well-being and robust health, of sparking creativity and true individuality, of happiness, art, religion, and contentment. If this is our goal, our actions must align. After evaluating it, it seems as if this is an untimely view in this age, on the whole. That’s nothing new, for me, and I think any creative soul could at least understand the prospect.
I’ve honestly decided, after today, not to eat meat for some time. I ate Panda Express today because my friend, who I helped get out of a traffic ticket, bought me it for lunch. I ate their Orange Chicken, and even as I ate it, it felt strange going down: all the grease and the meats now unfamiliar texture was almost harsh. I didn’t think about it at the time, but afterwards, I felt nauseous, and while digesting it, threw up because of it. I was just amazed and perplexed. I was either pissed off that my body was unhealthy enough to process meats proteins, or whether whatever in meat is this strong to produce such a repulsive effect from my body, which is actually completely healthy and full of energy! I have my daily protein and eat a healthy diet, so what couldn’t I process with this meat? Perhaps it was the grease, for it was Panda Express, but none-the-less, the meat did not sit well at all, and quite frankly, I would not miss it in the least. I would say I disagree with the mainstream process of most meat, but am not morally vivacious enough to claim immorality on any of it. It is guided economically, and we are selfishly guided by our individualistic claim to human morality as all morality. Even if it is misguided, it is necessarily so at the moment, thus: it matters not in our society, until we individually evolve.
Anyway, this is my experiment, guided by my common sense instinct for respect towards life and my health, which will be reasonably conducted, to attempt a reasonably vegetarian diet, one more healthy, with adequate supplements and protein. I think that change would be for the better, for with better health brings more energy, which is the main ingredient in well-being, action, and satisfaction. After some time of this, I am not disagreeable to eating meat in the end. Simply the process we currently have, for most, nearly 90% of all meat, is against what I think my body would agree with. On another level, my own thoughts on the "morality" is a societal physician revealing a symptom of hypocrisy between thoughts and action, and thus, being and action. Personally, I am not against death, and eating meat as a result. Even cultivating and bringing about life, for the ultimate purpose of continuing our life cycle is a natural process: but life has made it cruel and competitive, to which, we no longer have to be. If life was pleasant, such a life at all would be better than no life, especially if it were pleasant at that! Respect for our food, what a concept! Right now we are too individual, too egocentric, to evolve our awareness beyond our own perception, a move from the material self into the rational self. Our process I disagree under the pretenses of if we were a higher species, but we have yet to grow to that level, so I excuse our ignorance as a condition, a symptom of the times, to which hopefully, our spiritual cure is on the way: spiritual as that which links our mind and perception with everything around us, one of self-realization of ones relationships with others, the universe, and oneself, finally expressing itself in positive actions.