I should start off by stating I’m a fully-hearted vegetarian but a sinning vegan. I don’t have an ideological issue with meat-eating, rather than I’m simply against the food industry for environmental reasons. When addressing that “all life are holy”, I always question my bettering vegan friends about the holiness of the tick’s life and house-cat’s accountability for the eradication of the birds’ population. Often, when hearing the vices of the egg industry and the onslaught of all male-chicks, I shut this discussion with the fact the chick’s meat is used as pet-food (actually I didn’t find any proof for it, but as the industry always tries to maximise its profits I don’t see any reason why they’d throw it away). So it comes down that by simply having an unaccountable house-cat my vegan friend causes more death than he’ll ever be willing to admit.
Man’s greatest achievement (or worst; it depends on your narrative) is his usurpation of nature – we are no longer a haunted animal, prone to starvation and sickness and limited to a certain climate. we, as a race, overcame all of these. But we often forget that we are not the only species on this planet that upgraded our welfare. Our pets have undoubtably have a much better life than their undomesticated counterparts, and my claim is that any organism that survived the encounter with man became a “winner” along with us.
It is true that looking at the caged and restrained sow, it sure doesn’t look like a good life at all, but that is only one narrative. Another narrative talks about her genes’ probability to survive, and the lack of a constant fear from predators; never going hungry and having someone that looks after you. Perhaps the farmer doesn’t cuddle his sows (as you’d have imagine “caring for someone” in a very certain, irrelevant image), but I can assure you that looking after his sows is within his interests. You might say the passing of genes isn’t as important to the sow as living in a roaming-free environment – but isn’t this you own personal narrative? that one you allow yourself to have as you never been alone in a very stressful environment as wild animals are? you’re living the good life and as they say “it’s very easy to be socialist when you’re rich”.
Let’s imagine that life has a purpose: a mysterious goal we haven’t yet formalised, but it’s there and for every living being we can tell whether is closer to its goal than others. Who do you believe is closer to that goal? the extinct dodo or the domesticated chicken? I think that except for “being true to one’s self”, the chicken beats the dodo in any possible goal life might put up for us. Our chicken is a winner. Few thousands years ago she took her chances and made a treaty with the human race that in return for eggs and meat, she’ll be provided with custodianship. I’m not a chicken or a dodo, but I can’t really judge and say the chicken made a wrong choice.
Vegans would then go on and say my logic is false as nobody ever asked the chicken what life she’d prefer having: no chicken has ever stopped and said “I rather make it on my own with my eggs, thank you!”. But that’s also a very blind-sided narrative, imaging this big summit in which man and chicken will sit together and sign a treaty in which the chicken will state her demands in exchange for selling off her eggs. I think this is a very egoistic approach as you ask for the chicken to communicate in ways that you understand instead of you trying to understand her. The chicken agreed to the human-chicken treaty (i.e. domestication). I know this, as I can point you out to all the animals that didn’t agree to domesticate – bears and giraffes, as a quick example. are the bears winning the life’s race compared to the chicken? I doubt it.
I do believe that that the food industry is overly cruel in order to become cheap and efficient. Having a non-cruel industry would mean spending much more resource per animal and would raise its costs. for the price of eating 30 caged chickens, you’ll be able to allow yourself one “happy” chicken. Or you can go hunting. Imagine a deer grazing in some forest when all of sudden he’s killed and eaten by someone. As opposed to the domesticated chicken that lived in an artificial environment, either caged or free-range, the deer’s life were, for good and bad, as nature intended (assuming they weren’t impacted heavily by man’s activities, which most likely, but irrelevant to this article). The “all life are holy” advocates would claim that a wolf would have the right to be the deer’s killer as it’s a part of his nature, while man doesn’t have this right as we are not carnivores. let’s get this straight at least- we are omnivores, we are adapt to eat meat as well as other things, or at least we’ve been eating meat for the past thousands of years, not to mention extreme places where being a herbivores is simply impossible (arctic circle for example). so under most grounds it might seem completely ok to kill a hunted deer (at least, if you kill something, give its death a purpose other than your sick entertainment) except for one problem – there are more men than deers.
Which bring me to address the elephant in the room – there are too many people living unsustainably in the world, and our world is dying much faster than we would like to admit. But it’s not only humans that are overpopulating the earth – it’s everything domesticated as well – from the chickens and the cats to wheat and the corn. The animal-based industry is disastrous to our planet, but even without it, our food industry is still horrible and if we ever to return the home borrowed from our children in a liveable state, we would have to address this issue. Man is draining earth’s resources in a ever-growing rapid speed and unless we find another planet to exhaust or revolutionise our way of living, we are signing up for our demise, just like the chicken signed the domestication treaty.
So go ahead: use your consumer’s power to support or exhaust according to your beliefs; support your local food growers; grow your own food; raise your own chicken, and eat them if you feel like it; raise your children consciously or even consider living a full happy life without children, as it all depends on the meaning of “full” in your own view and in the narrative you *decide* to tell yourself.