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July 24, 2014: Humane meat: ultimately not that humane

Originally posted on this blog.

I recently stumbled upon an article that discusses whether or not animal rights activists should get involved in the promotion of "humane meat". I pretty much agree with everything the author wrote about this, but I wanted to discuss this topic a bit more from an Effaist point of view.

First and foremost, once you reach a certain level of compassion (what we Effaists call Animal Empathy Enlightenment), there is no such thing as "humane meat". All sentient beings want to live. All sentient life is precious, and the right to life of these animals should be respected. In a way, I kind of find the whole idea of "humane meat" a little twisted. One can almost understand the lack of empathy in the world of factory farms. Animals are treated as mere commodities, and the whole death machine is set up to kill as many of them as possible as quickly (though often not painlessly) as possible. On farms where animals are raised "ethically", the animals are theoretically happier than their factory farm counterparts, and there is often much more contact with the animals, thus providing an opportunity to really appreciate the personalities of these animals and to get to know them better. One would think that this would create even more awareness and more empathy for these animals. Unfortunately this is not the case, or even if it is, it is overshadowed by the "it's sad but necessary" myth. This is what puzzles me, with so many people in the world embracing and thriving on vegetarian and vegan diets, and with so much proof that animals and both sentient and intelligent creatures, how can we view "ethical meat" as the ultimate solution? Is this truly a fair way to treat other animals?

The answer is no, but it is more fair than factory farms. In my humble opinion, and in the opinion of many people who care about animal rights, activists should adopt a two-thronged approach to this topic. On one hand, we should fight to end factory farming, as the horrors and injustices inherent in that system are something that most people in the world would agree have to stop. On the other hand, we should continue educating people that while small farms where animals are treated "well" before they are killed are more ethical than factory farms, they are ultimately not "ethical" per se.

In order to truly end the violence towards other animals, and to understand this second part of the equation, we have to leave the above-mentioned "it's sad but necessary" myth behind. In the above-mentioned article, there were responses in the comments sections that were typical of meat apologists. One stated that due to the "differences in our constitutions", not everyone can become a vegan/vegetarian, and that we should just accept that some can and some can't. I have a simple response to this: where there's a will there's a way. I've already written about common myths that meat eaters use to justify their diet. Breaking free from a lifetime of habits is not easy, but those who truly respect other animals' right to live will find a way to make their new diet work. It is possible, and pretty much everyone can be happy and healthy without meat, if they are truly committed to this.

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