All creatures great and small - the funcrunch files
|Apr. 29th, 2014 03:45 pm All creatures great and small|
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While walking down the street today I spotted a beautiful butterfly sitting in the middle of the sidewalk. It seemed like an odd place to find such a creature. I bent down close, and it did not fly away. I feared it must be injured. I extended my hand, and it climbed up onto my finger. I held it aloft and admired it for a minute or so. Then I gently placed it on a nearby flowering bush, and went on my way.
I thought about this natural impulse to protect and admire such an animal, a lowly insect. Most people would be alarmed at an adult who would intentionally tear off a butterfly's wings, and reprimand a child for doing so. But most of these same people would eat the wings of a chicken with no qualms whatsoever.
What is the difference between a butterfly and a chicken, from a moral perspective? A butterfly is certainly not more intelligent than a chicken; some doubt that insects are even sentient. Is it beauty? Some butterflies are quite homely, and some chickens quite beautiful.
Is it that there is no good reason to tear off a butterfly's wings? What if a person gets pleasure from doing so? Is that sufficient justification? If not, why is it sufficient justification for eating a chicken? Or eggs, given that virtually all egg-laying chickens in this country are ultimately killed for low-quality meat?
When it comes to my diet, I find it most morally consistent to draw a bright line at the animal kingdom. I don't spend time trying to decide whether an animal, or its milk or eggs, is worth consuming based on its intelligence, beauty, or what quality of life it might have had. I do not know if a butterfly feels pain in the same way that I would, or a chicken would, if I pull off her wings. But I know I have the moral sense that it is the wrong thing to do, and that it is not necessary to do so. I extend this same level of courtesy to all creatures, great and small.
Thanks Geri. Are you interested in adopting a vegan diet?
Was vegan for 3 years in college / grad school; been lacto-ovo since then. I think about being vegan again sometimes, but am not at a point of making the switch back.
Why did you decide to switch from being vegan to lacto-ovo, if you don't mind me asking?
Had trouble keeping up with cooking while in grad school and there wasn't a whole lot of fast-prep vegan meal stuff at the available supermarkets back then. Cheese crept back into my diet with needing to do grab-and-go food a lot.
I've found a lot of quick recipes, so preparing vegan food is no more time-consuming for me than being ovo-lacto was. But the primary reason I'm vegan is for ethical reasons, which outweigh any issues of convenience for me. As I've been talking about in my blog lately (as well as on FB and G+), there's really no difference between the way animals raised for milk/eggs and animals raised for meat are treated in the U.S., and virtually all of the milk/egg producing animals are killed for meat in the end anyway.
I know all this... have read plenty of Robbins, Lappe, etc.
I am not saying that cooking vegan is more time consuming now than cooking lacto ovo. I am saying that in grad school in a small town in the mid-90s, when I didn't have time to cook at all, the available pre-made options were rarely vegan. Hence that's how my diet changed back to lacto-ovo. You asked how it happened; I'm happy to tell you how it happened. Am not in need of convincing of why the vegan diet is better.