“What separates man from all other beasts is not his desire to live, but his desire that all others should live or die only for him.”
We are all of us made of meat. We also all recognise, whether we are familiar with law or not, the right to live life without harm, persecution or discrimination from others, whether we are useful to them or not, yet the most oft-heard argument I hear from staunch meat-eaters is ‘why else would animals be here?’ (a variation of ‘if it isn’t doing anything for me, why should I care?’) as well as ‘it’s my right.’
The only ‘right’ established is might. Go ahead and apply it to various types of oppressor and oppressed throughout history and see what it sounds like:
- It’s [a] right to own slaves
- It’s [a] right for white people to have access to better resources than black/Indigenous/Indian people.
- It’s [a] right for men to be superior to women.
- It’s [a] right for Jewish people to be subjugated under Nazi rule.
What all of the above have in common is not an inherent and naturally-arising status of inferiority; the common denominator has been certain parties of society who attempt to subjugate others by exploiting differences as a negative.
Furthermore, these issues not only involve the raising of the oppressor, but the debasing of the oppressed, which occurs by taking differences (skin colour, culture, sex and gender, religion, economic status) and using it only as a negative – it is not allowed to exist in any positive light unless it is to be used to the detriment of the oppressor, eg: women are naturally ‘built’ to not do such hard work, therefore they’re best used for housework (ironically, this never applied to slave women); slaves are better used to the heat to do our labour; the reasons are many, but once you establish that all discriminatory and hateful ‘rights’ are borne solely from 1) power, and 2) a person or a group’s need to dominatate others for things they would not, could not, or are unable to do themselves, all reasons past those two points quickly become absurd (women are built differently to men, but that difference does not negate women doing the same as men; and vice versa. The difference itself is not inherently negative).
So, power and deliberate discrimination for the sake of labour (either having it done by others in the case of slaves, and no competition in the case of women) have been established, alongside difference and prejudice (a form of discrimination itself). No one nowadays worth listening to would say black people are black because they ought to be slaves (that itself is an absurdist statement as something cannot define itself; black skin isn’t black because it’s black), or that women have a natural disability when it comes to learning alongside men. It is difference that is exploited, and power – and complicity – that keeps exploiting it. And the most oppressed animal (bear in mind we are animals of the homo sapien variety belonging to the animal kingdom) are those categorised as livestock and poultry. ‘Wild’ game, circus animals, zoo- and marine-kept animals and rodeo-bulls existences come a very close second, but can be considered ‘less exploited’ (for what that’s worth) as they do not live in such industrialised factory settings.
Livestock and poultry live brutally short lives in comparison to their natural lifespans, and as the use of deliberate hormone-tampering and antibiotic-feed becomes more common, they get shorter as the chickens’ grown fat (and fattier) quicker. Cows and sheep too are not […] immune from this treatment. But, of course, we all know the argument and greatest temptation that stops people from consuming animal flesh: meat tastes so good. My ancestors would no doubt agree that free slave labour was great too, but something being good solely for the exploiter is ultimately no good for humanity as a whole, especially not for the exploited and oppressed individually.
Chances are, unless you keep and kill your own chickens (and there is no humane way to do the wrong thing; no one is happy being murdered just because they were happy five minutes ago) or have always brought organic (a higher-grade than free-range and subject to stricter regulations; free-range chickens can still be fed antibiotics in their feed at the livestock keeper’s or farmer’s discretion) you have never really tasted the actual, natural meat of a poultry bird. You don’t even get the same colour of natural skin. The same goes for beef cattle who are often left with open pus-sores and flesh-wounds – not to mention the castration (with no anaesthetic), horn mutilation, repeated artificial insemination for cows (under any other name: rape), and having their throats slit often without the bolt-gun having done its job properly.
All the torture and ‘humane’ brutality aside, meat is a junk food, but because we so often see it as part of dinner, it isn’t seen as such. Meat is considered high in protein, but really only has about 6.4 grams (beef) of protein per 100 calories vs 11.1 grams of protein (broccoli) for the same amount. As well as this, chicken is mostly all water-weight and fat; in fact, by the time it comes to being slaughtered, a chicken is often crippled by its own unnaturally large breast – an attribute we have overbred all poultry to have which wasn’t common to their ancestors (about 50-60 years ago). The water-weight comes into it when a chicken’s corpse has been deboned – water is injected to bulk up the weight… and the price you pay in super-markets.
And yet, if anyone were to suggest doing to people what we do daily (for their whole lives and through whole family bloodlines) to animals, we would be outraged, horrified and call it what it is: rape, murder, mutilation and torture – in short, the contents of a snuff film.
Yet people are made of meat. Human children are arguably more tender than their adult counterparts, and women do produce milk exactly as cows do (with the exact same gestation period per pregnancy). Whenever there has been any great tragedy against one group of people by another, we can always factor in an ‘othering’, a difference between one party and another; there is no inherent morality, and no inherent right of power belonging to anyone in the world.
Animals are different in that we can acceptably exploit them, and it is entirely because they aren’t human. In all other ways, we can see their similarities: cognizant and emotional abilities, familial and hierarchical bonding, etc. But they will never be human, and that is the sole factor of the ‘rights’ of their exploitation. They are absolutely similar to every other oppressed group in history in that those in power and those complicit in crimes against them have it best by making sure they don’t have rights.