Sunday, July 5, 2015

The Animal Who Can Choose Not to be Cruel

One article in last week’s Economist begins as follows:
Any truth, it is said, passes through three stages: first is it ridiculed, then violently opposed, and finally it is taken to be self-evident.
How long before the following comes to be taken as self-evident?
Alone among animals, humans possess both the biological capacity to live full and healthy lives without consuming the flesh or milk or eggs of other animals,* and the mental capacity to make an ethical choice not to eat those animals or what they have made—not to take their milk, their eggs, or their lives.
If, in the face of this truth, we choose to kill them and eat them anyway—routinely, for no better reason than that we like the taste of eating the flesh of the animals we have killed, or the taste of their milk and their eggs, or that it has become a habit we cannot bother to break—we are surely, as a species, the worst of all creatures.

Our capacity as humans for cruelty (as well as for sophistry and self-deception) has been evident in so many other areas for so long that some might argue we should just accept it; we are evil, and doing evil to other creatures every day of our lives is just part of what makes us human.

But if we truly believe that we have the capacity to choose to do good--free will, some call it--and that this capacity is central to what makes us human, let us choose to be fully human. All of us, every one of us. Let us give up the killing and the cruelty that we are responsible for. A whole foods, plant based diet; it's one way we can become fully human.

*It should be readily admitted that this is a generalization that admits of exceptions; some humans do experience health problems when they eat an entirely whole foods, plant-based diet—and should for that reason feel no compunction about eating animal products. But the evidence suggests that those who suffer such problems are a minority—and a tiny minority at that. Vegans typically require vitamin supplements (especially Vitamin B12 and Vitamin D) to be fully healthy—just as human carnivores and omnivores typically require vitamin supplements to be fully healthy. As and other authorities keep reporting, though, vegans are typically far, far healthier on a day-to-day basis than are humans who eat other animals’ flesh and eggs and drink other animals’ milk—and vegans are also far more resistant to a long list of diseases.

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