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Is Bacon a Gateway Meat for Vegetarians?

Is Bacon a Gateway Meat for Vegetarians?

NPR recently ran a story about bacon being a “gateway meat” for vegetarians.

The story was more of an extended mockery of vegetarianism than a real examination of the phenomenon, which seems to be anecdotal at best.

By no means is the article thorough, and it speaks only of vegetarians without mentioning veganism. But what is even more disturbing than ending the article with a quote from Homer Simpson, “Mmmmmm Bacon,” is the fact that the animal rights opposition to eating meat isn’t even mentioned, much less explored. The closest the author gets to mentioning a moral opposition to eating pigs is that Jonathan Safran Foer, author of Eating Animals refused to eat bacon on The Colbert Report.

The entire article is a lengthy treatise on the virtues of bacon and demonstrates the disregard that even those in the supposedly progressive, intellectual side of journalism treat animal rights.

We partially have ourselves to thank for this; so many people who have an interest in the philosophy behind animal rights allow themselves to be placated by ovo-lacto vegetarianism or “humane, free range” meat. How can we expect to be taken seriously if we have no definitive and consistent moral stance?

Of course it is true that as concerns about the animals that we eat become more common, there will be those who dabble with philosophy half-heartedly for one reason or another and who inevitably return to a diet of dead animals. In any social movement, there will be those who decide that the cause isn’t worth the work.

But a return to eating meat means a return to endorsing the idea that because something will eventually taste good if we kill it and cook it, then we have the right to kill and cook it. If you try to apply that hedonistic standard of behavior to other pleasures in life, it becomes criminal very fast. But we tolerate it in animals because we inherently view anything that isn’t human as lower and unworthy of any moral consideration whatsoever.

The fact that bacon smells or tastes good is irrelevant in moral considerations.

Did you know that pigs are the smartest domestic animal in the world? They’re capable of complex social interaction and problem solving, and they are smarter than dogs and young human children. They learn by example, have great senses of direction and can play video games.

If we knew as much about the living animal as we do about its dead cooked flesh, would we be so willing to mock people who abstain from eating animals? Would we so quickly praise the ex-vegetarian who snatches up a strip of bacon from the frying pan?

The more that we learn about the intellectual capabilities of animals, the more uncomfortable we should be with the idea of killing and eating them. A hundred years ago, we had very little grasp of how much could be going on inside the mind of an animal doomed to slaughter. 
Now, as we learn more every day that intelligence isn’t a dichotomy of humans and everything else, but more of a gradient, it’s hard to know how to justify treating a sentient non-human as nothing more than an object.

If you’re uncomfortable with the idea of killing and eating an animal that’s smarter than a three-year-old human, then give up bacon and every other meat and animal product along with it. And once you’ve done that, don’t go back to a diet based on slaughter, ever.

Related Stories: 

Hope for the Pigs (VIDEO)

Largest US Pork Producer Ignores Welfare Promises

People Buy Less Meat Thanks to Animal Welfare News Coverage

 

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Photo: Treehouse1977

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244 comments

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7:04PM PST on Dec 3, 2012

Thank you for article.

7:03PM PST on Dec 3, 2012

Thank you for article.

11:23PM PST on Mar 10, 2012

Fleur, I hate to tell you this, but chicken has nothing to do with pigs. It's a different species. If you "care" and are into saving animals, then how can you justify eating lamb, which are very young sheep? Not saying that nobody should eat lamb, but your ethics don't compute if you are trying to save the planet.

11:16PM PST on Mar 10, 2012

I refuse to eat Chicken or anything Pig related, but i eat beef and lamb because i live on a cattle property, and as its our prime income, giving it up would be kind of stupid. But having said that, i believe that live exports should be BANNED for ever immediately. And I am only 15, so people, stop saying my generation doesn't care!!! We do!!! Well, some, any way.

8:45AM PDT on Jun 12, 2011

I no longer eat pork. I think we should eat fish and chicken but they need to be treated hunamely and we should bann factory farming FOREVER !!!!

7:55AM PDT on May 25, 2011

I'm not a vegetarian, and do like meat, and I wanted the animal treated fairly. But if humans didn't eat meat, do you really believe we would let them wander over the countryside?

11:19AM PDT on May 17, 2011

I gave up meat over 20 years ago. Any compassionate person who sees a pig raised in factory farms would either stop eating them or switch to humanely raised livestock. While meat eating is a reality for most people at least the animals raised for food should be raised humanely. Even for those who are less than compassionate about farm animals, I like to point out to them about the overuse of antibiotics and other drugs. So if they care nothing about the animals they should be concerned about their health.

4:05PM PDT on Mar 25, 2011

@ Esther S. I believe that humans do not need to consume meat or wear leather/fur etc to survive in the 21st century, however, if you remember the Indian natives, they had to kill animals for clothing and food because they had no alternative. If I were going to die and the only thing to save my life was an animal by-product I don't believe it would be morally unjust to consume it. Just as when someone asks "if you were stranded on a deserted island and the only food you could possibly eat was an animal..." to survive, is justifiable. Although in today's world, consuming an animals' dead flesh and/or wearing their skins is not justifiable as we do not need it for our survival.

3:17PM PST on Mar 11, 2011

I'm tired of being asked if I eat fish or chicken when I say I'm vegetarian. If you eat meat (any kind of meat), then you are NOT vegetarian, you are eating a dead animal!!! Or pigs/fish/chickens are not animals? Is this so dificult to understand???

12:24PM PST on Feb 25, 2011

The first meat I gave up, was pig. And I LOVED BLTs. Bacon smells good, frying, but .... I love pigs. That was my initial reason. Now I eat LTs, fresh tomatoes and collard greens from my garden, with lots of pepper and mayo. It's a dagwood sandwich, very large and tasty. Course, now I'm a total vegetarian, and I love my food, and I love that I don't eat one animal, and yet, am healthy and enjoying the taste of my food. TRY IT. Give up pig.

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Lindsay Spangler Lindsay Spangler is a Web Editor and Producer for Care2 Causes. A recent UCLA graduate, she lives in... more
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