Monday, October 03, 2005

Cruelty-free?

The following was a response of mine to a Veggie Boards thread entitled "Could you eat meat?"

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I could eat meat if the circumstances were right. I personally don't think meat-eating is inherently wrong. What I think is wrong is raising animals in captivity with no other purpose in life other than food. The diet of many indigenous people around the world is better for the environment as a whole than industrialized-nation vegetarianism. They don't eat as much meat as our dominant mainstream cultures, but they also don't eschew meat like we do.

Even as vegetarians or vegans, all of us are complicit in systems of violence toward other living beings. We have various privileges of species, race, class, education, national identity, etc. that each and every one of us take advantage of, both consciously and subconsciously every day. I prefer to live in a city, even though cities represent the complete bending of nature to humanity's will, regardless of all the non-human animals that once lived within the borders. I often choose to ignore homeless people. I sometimes make snap judgments of other people due to ethnicity. If I had to choose on a Saturday night between organizing an action for Darfur, Sudan and a night of dancing at a gay bar, the gay bar would win hands down. I am more apt to walk stray dogs at the local animal shelter than spend time tutoring disadvantaged youth in my community.

I see vegetarianism as a compromise for living in the US. It's one way I try to lessen my overall ecological "footprint", rather than a complete personal doctrine. This is also why I've been car-free for over a decade and support cycling and other alternative modes of transportation. However these serve as a counterbalance to the aforementioned selfishness in my life, rather than a negation of it. This is why I don't label my life as "cruelty-free."

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