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Animal Cruelty: Who is to Blame?

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How can we expect morally decent behavior from the people we ask to carry out the task of breeding, confining and ultimately killing and butchering the animals we choose to enslave and eat? These are innocent beings who most people would rather caress and embrace than hurt and kill.

There is something very unjust about the fact that we delegate the most obscene work of our society to a select few who are emotionally hardened enough to carry it out, only to later denigrate them for their disconnection from their natural sense of empathy. When thinking about it honestly, most of us would be hard-pressed to find it in ourselves to slaughter an animal – or to rip off her skin, or slice open her body to remove the entrails, or butcher her flesh into supermarket-sized pieces… And yet, we continue to ask others to do it for us, while most people refuse to even watch these things on video or hear others describe them.

But our distaste toward being involved in such violent acts isn’t something that should be squelched and suppressed, as Michael Pollan or Julie Powell would have us believe. No – we should be grateful for the revulsion we feel when we imagine what happens to animals in between being born and being on our plates. Our horror is a sane reaction to practices that are nothing short of horrifying.

We cannot separate ourselves from depravity simply because we have found a way to tuck the dirty deeds out of sight – behind the walls of slaughterhouses and other obscure buildings. And all the disconnection and indifference in the world cannot change the fact that it is impossible to distinguish the immorality of a Pollan-style DIY approach from the immorality of any other act of unnecessary violence.

In any court of law, those who are complicit in a crime are considered to be responsible along with those who carry it out.

As expressed so eloquently by Ralph Waldo Emerson,

“You have just dined, and however scrupulously the slaughterhouse is concealed in the graceful distance of miles, there is complicity.”



Angel Flinn is Director of Outreach for Gentle World — a vegan intentional community and non-profit organization whose core purpose is to help build a more peaceful society, by educating the public about the reasons for being vegan, the benefits of vegan living, and how to go about making such a transition.

Dan Cudahy is author of Unpopular Vegan Essays: Unpopular Essays Concerning Popular Violence Inflicted On The Innocent.


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6:04AM PDT on Jul 8, 2013

do you need to ask?*some called humans*of course.thank you for sharing 8/7

11:50AM PDT on Apr 19, 2013

The cruelty falls squarely on our shoulders. Least cruelty possible, not perfect. Justifications="Why keep looking for the right way to do the wrong thing?"

6:20AM PDT on Mar 29, 2013

No one but ourselves to be blamed

3:59PM PST on Nov 19, 2012

Thank you for sharing.

7:16AM PDT on Oct 19, 2012

We, and all living beings, eat for nourishment, to stay healthy and alive.

Eating to feed a political ideal or philosophy does not nourish the body.

People are all different and have different nutritional requirements and people must eat what their own bodies require.

6:51AM PDT on Oct 19, 2012

It's sad to see so many people getting so defensive whenever the topic is Veganism. And it's sadder still to see so many people still ignore what veganism is and base their opinion about it on ignorance and prejudice. Veganism is the politics of non-oppression. That is the definition as said by the founder of the Vegan Society, Donald Watson. Veganism means recognizing that animals' lives are their own, not ours for whatever purposes, and that therefore they are not and must not be considered property or commodities. What society does to animals is slavery, it is oppression, there's no way around it.

Yes, it's true that even vegans are guilty of using some things that contain ingredients that come from animals, like tires, computers, etc., but so far there isn't much of a choice if we want to move from place to place and communicate with more people. Eventually, there will be, because the rise of veganism will demand it.

When people come here and say that "God gave us animals to eat", all I can say is: you don't know that. You can believe that, but you have no way of being sure. And if your faith is responsible for justifying your lack of empathy, your selfishness and cumplicity in causing suffering, then what kind of perverse faith is that? What kind of sick deity would create animals and give them the capacity to feel and to be conscious just so human animals could enslave and murder them without any need to do so? There is NO difference between cruelty and needless

9:12AM PDT on Oct 18, 2012

Yes, Laureen....that's why there is no such thing as a vegan. At best, there are people who are vegan-by-diet.

What we have to do is stop the cruelty of factory farming, by eating less meat, and finding sources for humanely raised meat that isn't contaminated by antibiotics, hormones and synthetic supplements that are at the root of the health problems of those people who don't understand the concept of 'eating in moderation'.
There are EXCESSES that are responsible for most of the diseases....and eating a nutritionally balanced diet is healthiest....especially if what you're eating isn't already contaminated.
So organic is important!

7:22AM PDT on Oct 18, 2012

It is pretty tough to avoid animal byproducts. It is in everything from toothpaste to auto tires. I could not believe that there are animal byproducts in tires of all things! Animals have been used for testing in hair colourants, shampoos, etc. Everywhere you turn, there it is! It is gross.

4:01PM PDT on Sep 7, 2012

You seem to miss that there is a difference between killing and cruelty. God gave us meats to eat, and what meats not to eat. I believe in God and eat meat with no apologies, except for those raising and processing the meats that God set before us.
I do what I can to stop that treatment. I try not to waste what I do buy, I am conscious of what industries are cruel and won't buy from that store that sells it,
As far as cloths go, it could be said that the materials we make today no longer give us the need for hides and furs, but the reality is, they are full of chemicals, and a big part of a poisonous industry spilling into out water ways, and land fills.
There are hardly any seeds you are planting at home, that have not already been chemically altered at this point.
So Who is to blame for cruelty? Those who do not raise animals in proper natural environments or kill cleanly, but cruelly takes lives do to laziness, cost effect, and basic humanity.
Death is and will always be a product of life. We need to enforce the laws that exist, and having a register of people AND Company's that are "convicted of cruelty to animals" is a great start. Many don't have any idea how their meat gets to market, but they're learning thanks to protest, articles, and hidden filming... It's people like "Angle" that draw attention to the problem, rather you "fully" agree with her beliefs or not. As long as their is attention to the problem, their will be progress.

10:14PM PDT on May 15, 2012

Wow, another sermon from "our" Angel. How typical and the usual YES, jibber-jabber that she writes in absolutely every Care.2 article I've ever seen in here. They're all basically the same.

Beth, may I ask why you were so rude to Marilyn and attacked her in such a hostile manner? She said NOTHING personal to you, was commenting on how we all can do our part to abolish or at least lessen animal cruelty, and I've read her comment three times. It certainly was NOT an "all or nothing" implication. She was saying that not a single person can state that they do everything possible to eliminate all animal cruelty, and we each can do only what we can.

As for the article, itself, I didn't see a single new comment from Angel, just the usual rhetoric. We've all read it dozens of times and been down the road before as to where she thinks everyone needs to go. Personally, "her" road has no interest whatsoever for me. I'd rather spend my energies to adopt/rescue homesless and needy animals, volunteer in shelters, sign petitions when they are justified and grow my own food as much as possible, and that which I can't, do my homework and purchase only from local, humanely raised and processed sources.

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