It is very common for me to hear people profess to be “animal lovers.”
They will go on and on about how they simply adore all animals and how fascinated they are by every species. Few people who claim to be animal lovers deny that all animals have emotions. In fact, it is this very trait of being capable of emotions, much like ourselves, which endears many people to non-human animals.
Being an outspoken activist for the rights and liberties of animals, what I find quite troubling is when a self-proclaimed “animal lover” eats the creatures they profess to “love.”
That the word “love” is as subjective as it is — and as open to one’s own definition — is the root of my dismay at such individuals’ actions.
Of course there are many different types of love. The love you feel for your spouse or partner is different from the love you feel for your friends. And that love may be different from the love you feel for your companion animal, such as a dog or cat. So as to not be mired in arguments over differing types of love, I am simply going to focus on the love we humans share with other animals.
My personal definition of love leaves no room for the killing and consuming of another being.
The love and affection we share with the non-human animals in our lives is undeniable. Although it may be argued the love is one-sided, many people have experienced the remarkable companionship and emotional connectedness we are capable of sharing with other species.
We have the ability to see ourselves in other creatures, to read their emotions to the best of our ability, and to empathize with them.
I do not doubt the love people have for their pets, but when someone says they love animals, yet still eat meat and support the cruel treatment of cows and chickens by consuming dairy and eggs, I struggle with my patience.
What kind of “love” allows someone to eat the flesh of a loved one needlessly?
It is a strange concept of love to say that you support someone taking a knife to the throat of an innocent creature.
When someone says they are an animal lover, I ask them if they eat animals. If the answer is “yes”, I point out that they more than likely “love” the idea of animals. Or perhaps they love dogs and cats, because to kill someone — yes, someone, not something – needlessly to fulfill a desire of taste cannot be considered love by any stretch of the word, can it?
I have loved dogs in my life dearly, although I cannot say for sure that they loved me in the same way. The thought that I personally could, or would allow someone, to kill and eat a being that I loved with my whole heart is unfathomable.
I have known people who have raised animals from birth and undoubtedly cared a great deal for them, but that caring ended when they ended those poor creatures’ lives.
I think people can feel something akin to love for animals raised to be eaten, I don’t deny that, but what I ask is if it fits into any other parameter of the definition of love to them?
If you love and respect animals, shouldn’t you allow them to live? Shouldn’t you want them to live?
Killing to survive is one thing, as for those with literally no other choice, like carnivores. But the killing that takes place in a slaughterhouse is not necessary. Very few — if any — of us reading this have to kill to survive.
Although I have dedicated my life to raising awareness and protecting animals from horrific treatment, I personally do not consider myself an animal lover.
I care for all animals in the same way, regardless of their species, human or otherwise.
Animals are individuals, with emotions and desires of their own. I can’t imagine they want to be killed and eaten any more than any of us do.
Many of us have been forced to make the extremely painful decision of ending the lives of companion animals we loved, to ease their passing. Virtually anyone who has gone through this will attest to the heartache that comes with it. We love individuals and then end their lives exactly because of our love for them. We can’t stand to see them suffer, we want the best for them and we want them to die with dignity and respect. What our love doesn’t do is make us want to skin and eat their flesh.
If you don’t feel pain and heartache from killing an animal for food, how could you still consider that love?
If you truly love animals, for whatever reason, please stop supporting their needless killing. Or at the very least, change the language for which you describe your emotions towards them.
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