Being Vegan and Caring For Carnivorous Companion Animals

An enquiring reader raised a very important ethical dilemma:  what about the rights of animals raised and killed for meat that we feed to our carnivorous pets?

We wouldn’t harm another animal for our own sake, but what about on behalf of our our beloved pets? We certainly don’t approve when they catch prey such as sweet birds or gentle mice, however it is their nature. The cat is doing no moral wrong by killing the bird- it must consume flesh to survive. We do not need to consume flesh, but the furry members of our family do – and due to the strange situation of domestication, we are responsible for them. 

This responsibility puts us in a moral quandary. Sadly, the ultimate solution is one that is a long way off from being widely available or remotely affordable: artificial meat. We are actually well under way with research into quality artificial, yet real flesh, minus all suffering and agony. Grown synthetically in laboratories, without the need for any animal suffering, aside from gently taking cell samples from living animals.

Humans who absolutely must eat meat and will never be persuaded by the absoluteness of the ethical argument against eating meat and killing other beings – they can indulge in a harmless manner – that of eating synthetic meat. Feeding both our pets and the most ardent meat eaters real, genuine animal flesh that has been grown rather than born, raised and killed, would be the optimal scenario. Continue reading

Animal Rights: Natural Law and Cultural Customs

Natural law holds that law and morality are deeply connected.  Law is not simply what is passed as legislation – if legislation is not moral, then it is not true law, and has no actual authority. For example, if we were living in times of widespread slavery and, for some arbitrary reason, you were designated by society as a slave due to your beliefs, ethnicity, class, gender, in the eyes of the law you have no rights. This is perfectly legal, yet obviously unjust.

What if the arbitrary reason you have your natural rights stripped from you is because you belong to a different species? It is not wrong to harm a human because they are human – it is wrong because they are conscious, feeling, complex beings, not because they belong to the same species. The immorality of harm crosses across species boundaries; unless nature so makes it an absolute biological necessity for an animal being to consume others – a true obligate carnivore – we have no right to destroy the lives of billions of others simply because we fancy it. Continue reading

Animal Suffering: The Hidden World

horse-316956_640What motivates a conscientious individual to, amongst other things, become vegan is the wish to contribute towards lessening this vast, hidden world of suffering. The question asked is simply this: would I rather that there was slightly more or slightly less suffering and harm in the world?

In the tiny corner of the world that one has a presence, one’s actions have direct and indirect consequences to the lives of other living, sensitive beings – both the other humans in our lives as well as all the countless other animal beings we interact with on a daily basis.

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The Meat Question: Our Pleasure vs Animal Beings And Their Right to Life

cow-314274_640Is taste, our sensory pleasure, more important than the entire life of a sentient being? From a strictly utilitarian standpoint, that of the greatest happiness for the greatness number, we deem our fleeting oral pleasure to be of greater value that the entire lives of billions of living, feeling animal beings. Let us consider this point more deeply.

The question that we are asking ourselves is this: given that there are healthier, tasty alternatives to meat that are not massively destructive to the environment – the home of both ourselves and trillions of other beings – what possible justification is there for continuing to kill and ingest fellow beings? Continue reading

Animals and Language

canada-goose-216003_640Language is often used to separate Homo sapiens from other species, sometimes to argue our species superiority over others, sometimes to ultimately justify our dominion over the rest of life. However, when we delve into the topic of language, we find that our assumptions quickly begin to unravel.

What exactly is language, anyway? What is its evolutionary purpose? Is language unique to humans, or do other animals possess similar linguistic abilities?

Language is one of several forms of communication. Other methods of communication include visual cues (gestures, facial expressions), smells (chemical communication), touch, and body language. What separates language from other forms of communication is that it includes culturally-defined symbols as reference points.

Living beings communicate in order to fulfill certain basic needs: to attract mates, warn of predators, coordinate the search for food, as well as to convey feelings and emotional states. Continue reading

Parallels Between Human and Animal Slavery (I)

bear-3165_640When we are looking for eloquent, compelling arguments for the abolition of animal slavery, we need look no further than the abolitionists of the 18th century campaigning for the end of the Transatlantic slave trade.

This post includes a selection of quotes from prominent abolitionists and a brief explanation of the relevance to animal emancipation.

Here we see that the arguments against human slavery are practically identical to those against animal domination. The same set of principles underlie the unethical nature of all forms of slavery, be it between different ethic or social groups or different species. The infliction of unnecessary harm on any being – no matter which species they happen to belong to – who is capable of deep sensory perception and rich experiences is a great moral crime. Refusing to grant animal beings basic freedoms dooms them to unending abuse at the hands of their dominant human masters.

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Procrastination and The Creative Potential of Every Single Day

Every morning we are presented with a truly tremendous opportunity: the next 24 hours will present many decisions on how to spend our time, what to focus upon, how to react to events and how to deal with our thoughts. Knowingly or unknowingly, we make many small decisions every day – decisions that cumulatively add up to form our lives.

What time do you get up? What are your morning/evening rituals? How much time do you spend watching television or playing games? What do you choose to eat and drink? How many hours a day do you devote to your creative endeavours? How often do you procrastinate and put off important tasks in favour of mindless distractions?

Are you wasting too much time on activities and tasks that offer minimal short-term benefits but no long-term growth? Do you find chunks of time disappearing? Furthermore, have you ever spent time really considering your future? Where do you want to be? How do you propose to get there?

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