Is Eating Meat Wrong? How Do You Square it With Yourself?

Image of a man pointing at a question markThere is a state of mind known as cognitive dissonance. Maybe you’ve heard the term bandied about? It describes, for example, how we can simultaneously love our pet dogs and cats with all our heart and not give a second thought to the fact that other animals had to suffer horribly for us to enjoy our medium rare steak at the evening meal. So is eating meat wrong? What is your justification?

Have you questioned it at any point? I hope that, since you’ve found this page amongst millions of others, you’re already asking yourself questions such as …

  • Do animals have emotions like humans?
  • Do animals feel pain like humans?
  • Is humane slaughter possible?
  • Is eating meat ethical?

Disconnection From Reality: Ignorance is Bliss

Image of a soft toy with eyes covered

The UK is well-known as a nation of animal lovers, so we’re told. But why do we love dogs so much yet are perfectly fine with the well documented suffering and slaughter of livestock on a truly epic scale?

The scene in ‘The Matrix’ when Cypher has defected to the other side and is savouring a piece of juicy steak, even while he is acutely aware the steak is not real is one of my favourite scenes and he states how he’s come to realise, “ignorance is bliss!”

Most people don’t want to know the truth because it hurts to acknowledge it … but if we are to progress as a human race, it must be acknowledged!

Great lengths are gone to in order to hide the grim reality of meat production from you. It’s truly a case of ‘out of sight, out of mind’. We’re all so locked in to our busy lives, who wants to waste precious mental energy challenging our perceived reality?

It’s much easier to allow ourselves to believe the cattle slaughter process is humane or pigs don’t squeal in agony for many minutes before they succumb to the gas. It’s difficult to deal with these issues especially since you’re questioning decades of conditioning perpetrated on you by very clever people and powerful conglomerates.

Animals Are Friends Not Food – Your Dog Agrees!

When you start asking yourself these questions honestly, it can throw up some painful truths. We are able to feel great love for our companion animals. They become part of the family and we feel great sorrow when they die. We cannot bear their suffering.

Image of a puppy looking upwards

Yet, when it comes to the dinner plate, we’re able to completely switch off and ignore the extreme suffering these other sentient creatures endure on a daily basis. Our compassion doesn’t extend to the cows, pigs and chickens who often live a desperately short life before the knife is taken to them. Just so you can tuck in to that big bucket of fried chicken!

Do you think a cow has feelings? Can animals feel emotion? Well, you only have to look at how a cow behaves when her calf is taken away from her shortly after having entered this world. She is utterly distressed. The emotion is raw.

Anyone with even a scintilla of empathy can plainly see the cow is feeling an emotion here. In fact, there are thousands of examples of animals in the natural world, as well as on the farm, exhibiting what we humans recognise as emotion.

It’s very difficult to argue the opposite.

Just the same as your dog is overjoyed to see you when you get home from work, a cow is also capable of experiencing similar feelings. I grew up on a farm and have seen, on many occasions, the unbridled joy experienced by the cows when being let loose into a fresh pasture – they run and jump and shake their heads, mooing excitedly!

Now tell me honestly that our dinner plate animals are any different to your dog or cat!

Yep, that’s what I thought. That’s cognitive dissonance right there!

Why Do Animals Have To Suffer? Don’t We Slaughter Humanely?

It’s not even your fault. The conditioning starts from an early age and is reinforced through every generation. We’re told we need to eat meat as part of a healthy, balanced diet. On our milk bottles we see images of happy cows in the green meadows. On our egg boxes are adorned pictures of hens roaming free, pecking at the ground.

We grow up thinking the farm animals have a good and happy life before they are humanely put to death. We’re told they are treated well and we’re assured their suffering is kept to the absolute bare minimum.

I’m afraid the reality is very different.

Sure, there are some farmers who do ensure their livestock have as good a life as possible. Some animals are more lucky than others. But ask yourself honestly, is humane slaughter possible? How do you kill a sentient creature humanely?

Image of a sign stating: stop, turn back!

Maybe one of the quickest and least cruel methods is to shoot the beast in the head, just above the eyes. Death is near instant and if it’s just the one cow then this could almost be considered humane, I suppose. Unfortunately, in order to satisfy the insatiable demand for meat, this method of killing is simply not economical.

Humans are slaughtering livestock on a scale which is difficult to comprehend. We’re talking about tens of billions of animals every year … billions!

It’s estimated, for chickens alone, we’re slaughtering 50 billion birds every year, not including the males! [1] … I doubt you can even visualise that number. The world has gone mad!

To execute this many animals in an efficient manner we have to use mass methods. These methods are not 100% effective and result in some animals not being fully stunned before the throat is slit, for example. Then consider how the hundreds of animals waiting in line for their untimely end are feeling as they hear the tortured screams of their friends’ last moments!

Possibly starting to sound more like a Nazi death camp now!

It’s often said, if slaughterhouses had glass walls, we’d all be vegetarian or vegan. They have to hide the truth from us so we don’t see the epic suffering of these poor creatures. This is why we have to disconnect ourselves from the reality of the meat trade. The alternative doesn’t bear thinking about. Ignorance really is bliss.

As I said, it’s difficult to confront these realities when you’ve been told all is hunky dory down on the farm! Some of us cannot ignore it though. You cannot unsee something. Once you know what really goes on, how can you not question these barbaric practices?

It Has to Come From Within You …

Image of a hand reaching for the sun

We all walk this fragile Earth and we have to find our own way. No-one likes to be told how to live their life and it’s very difficult to convince someone that eating meat is wrong when they have done so their whole life having been conditioned to think it’s ok.

But it’s not ok … in my opinion!

I was vegetarian for almost 20 years before finally realising that veganism is the way forward. I’ve now not eaten meat for 26 years and counting. The only couple of slight wobbles I’ve had were at Christmas time when I tried a turkey sandwich …didn’t enjoy it, especially the second time.

I don’t want to sound too ‘hippy’ here but I honestly believe when you give up the meat your consciousness changes. You become more compassionate and empathetic, not only towards animals but towards your fellow human beings.

Giving up meat was not difficult for me (mainly because my wife is such an amazing cook) and now I see it as not having given something up but to have gained something very valuable!

Going vegan, however, was a truly profound experience and my reaction to the process was completely unexpected. It was like a veil had been lifted from my eyes. The mist cleared and all of a sudden, when the final traces of cow’s milk had left my system, I felt like I had awakened. I felt a strong connection to the entire universe; like I had found my place in this rich tapestry of life. It was really quite emotional … and I’m not one to bare my emotions easily!

Only you can make the change. Others can provide evidence and reasons but it is you who has to make that decision. Once you decide to honestly answer the burning questions within you and once you have seen the reality of the meat and dairy industry, I think you can only make one choice.

… and it’s really not that difficult to do 🙂

Is It Time To Question Our Belief Systems?

People try to justify eating meat in many different ways. The evolution argument, the health argument, the ‘top-level predator’ argument … I could go on.

Image of Melanie Joy's book entitled "Why We Love Dogs, Eat Pigs and Wear Cows"

There is a great book written by a very intelligent woman named Melanie Joy which introduces the idea of Carnism. In her book, entitled “Why We Love Dogs, Eat Pigs and Wear Cows” she explains how vegetarianism and veganism are belief systems; ethical standpoints if you will.

She highlights how there is not really an adequate term to describe those who believe eating meat is their god-given right, as opposed to those who just eat meat because they have always done so, without really questioning it.

Enter the word ‘Carnism’ which I think is a great term to describe the belief system of some meat-eaters. Those who are more passionate and vocal about opposing veganism and vegetarianism on an ethical level.

It goes beyond the simple phrase ‘meat-eater’ and more accurately describes the philosophical beliefs of those who consider it completely normal and justifiable to kill animals for food.

There is nowhere near enough scope in this article to explore the idea of Carnism in any detail. I wouldn’t do it justice. If you want to find out more, I highly recommend you pick up a copy of Melanie’s excellent book … available at all good bookstores!

Will We Heed The Warning Signs?

Image of a sign saying: wrong way

We asked if it’s wrong to eat meat but this question is a little too simplistic. The answer depends on your situation. If it’s a matter of survival then no, it is not wrong. That is what humans have done for millennia.

But as our dominant species evolves on this planet, we have developed an unnatural desire to consume vast amounts of the stuff. If it were down to survival, we’d be ensuring we use every single piece of that animal … we wouldn’t be gobbling down a whole plate of wings, for example!

That’s just pure, unbridled decadence, That is not about survival!

It’s gone way too far and our planet is warning us that what we’re doing is wrong. Eating meat in the vast quantities we do currently is wholly unsustainable and is damaging our beautiful planet. All for what? For that taste! It’s selfish and I’d argue, it’s very wrong.

It’s time to wake up and I hope we do before it’s too late.

 

This article came from the heart and I hope it has helped you think about your place on this planet. Your actions have consequences and it is you who can make the change. We’re at a tipping point like never before. Please share and do leave your questions and opinions below in the comments section … I’ll do my best to respond quickly!

Thanks for reading!

Rohan.


[1] – World Economic Forum – This is How Many Animals We Eat Each Year – 8th February 2019

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