Regaining our Perspective: Raising Awareness of our Precious Animal & Plant Heritage

Sunday, 7 October 2012

The Religious Endorsement of Animal Suffering

Extract from "The Theos - Rights of Animals, by Reverend Andrew Linzey
(taken from Animals in Christianity)


"For Catholic theology, steeped as it is in scholasticism, animals have no moral status. If we have any duties to them, they are indirect, owing to some human interest involved. Animals are not rational like human beings and therefore cannot possess immortal souls. Even the most hard-boiled scholastic would now probably admit that animals feel some pain but, if so, their pain is not regarded as morally relevant or truly analogous to human pain. In consequence, animals have no rights. ‘Zoophilists often lose sight of the end for which animals, irrational creatures were created by God, viz., the service and use of man,’ argues the Dictionary of Moral Theology. ‘In fact, Catholic moral doctrine teaches that animals have no rights on the part of man."

I would like to comment on the above. 

Firstly, it is more accurate to note that both Catholic and non-Catholic theology is more steeped in a patriarchal mishmash of traditionalist mythology and superstitious mumbo-jumbo than "scholasticism". The latter term should be reserved for the serious study of real subject matter. 

Secondly, it is on the basis of the pernicious religious nonsense that has been dished up to the gullible unquestioning mind over the past few thousand years, that humanity has formed a breathtakingly inaccurate idea that it is the only species that matters on this earth, and that all the rest of our ecology is here for our use and pleasure. We couldn't be more incorrect in this assertion.

Our duties being "indirect" towards animals, owing "merely to some human interest involved" is the exact thinking that has allowed the meat industry to persist in its barbaric treatment of animals in the slaughterhouses of the world. By this time, the reader might well have noted the content of Pukeheads so I won't recap all the detail here, but follow the link if you really want to see what's in your meat.

Animals cannot possess immortal souls. Yes - but then, neither does mankind possess an immortal soul, does he? When you get over the fairy story and go and look at the hard truths of the background to the religious-babble on which we've been fed, you will realise that we just are another finite species with a limited time, in a planetary ecosystem that we are destroying frighteningly quickly. No immortality for us.

Animals might feel some pain, 'but their pain is not regarded as morally relevant or truly analogous to human pain". What utter nonsense. How would we know this? Is there some "pain meter" somewhere which can objectively measure the pain an individual (man or animal) can feel? And of course we think their pain is not as important as ours, because we're writing the script! I'm sure if a rhinocerous stampedes over your ribcage leaving your guts splattered all over the African savanna, it's not likely to think that human pain is as relevant as its own when it's being hacked to death with pangas and having its horn gouged out with chainsaws. It's a matter of whose interest is being represented in the articles being written. And since humans write the articles, there's a large amount of speciesist bollocks that is going to find its way into print. It's a case of mind over matter. Humans don't mind and animals don't matter.

And as far as "irrational creatures being created by God viz. the service and use of man", consider The following :

  • chickens have been shown to have mathematical abilities
  • dolphins have shown evidence of knowledge of the economics of supply and demand, 
  • chimpanzees make and use tools and hunt in organised groups, are capable of empathy, altruism and self-awareness, and perform better than humans in certain number memory tests, 
  • elephants exhibit self awareness, recognising themselves in a mirror, and of course their great social traditions of mutual comfort and mourning their dead are well known. 
  • cephalopods (includes octopuses) demonstrate innate curiosity, an ability to learn and use tools and have folded brain lobes, like ourselves
  • crows make tools to snare food, and demonstrate learning from their elders, 
  • squirrels use deception to thwart predators, and mask their own smell with rattlesnake scent, as well as constructing 3-dimensional mapping in the brain to locate caches of buried nuts
  • And pigs? They're the smartest, cleanest domestic animals known, moving cursors on video screens, and discerning familiar from unfamiliar marks. Pigs learn as quickly as chimpanzees and in an experiment demonstrate cognitive self-awareness using mirrors.  

The following 3 passages are dedicated to the ignorant religious among us who think that animals do not experience pain as we do :

"Once they are hung upside down, the rabbits have their heads sawed off as they cry out in pain. According to inspectors, workers "use a dull knife and have to keep using it over and over to decapitate the rabbit. The workers were having to try three and four times to remove the rabbit's head. A worker had numerous scratches and bite marks from the rabbits struggling to survive as he was killing them", the inspectors told us "the rabbits will cry almost like an infant with loud shrieking noises".

"Workers open the hide on the legs, the stomach, the neck; they cut off the feet while the cow is breathing. It makes noise. "It's looking around" said one worker. "Cows can get seven minutes down the line and still be alive. I've been up to the side-puller where they are alive. All the hide is stripped out down to the neck there", said another. "Their eyes look like they're popping out. I feel bad that I have to do my job on them," explained a third.

"Sometimes they go pretty far. Sometimes they have all the skin out and they're all peeled. Sometimes you can tell they are alive because when you look at their eyes, you can see the tears of a cow".
(Slaughterhouse, Gail A. Eisnitz)

I would sincerely like to take the next religious ignoramus that tells me that animals don't feel the pain we do, and stick a hook through their ankles, hang them upside down and peel off their flesh. We will see if they make more noise than the rabbits, cows and pigs of the world, as 'they die piece by piece'.

(And for the record - none of us were created by God. We evolved - period. I sometimes think that ancestors of the meat and petfood industries were involved in writing the early religious material, because of its inherent bias against animals.)

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

The Great Protein Lie

I have noticed a rather interesting phenomenon lately, when we happen to mention that we are vegetarian : almost without exception, the comment in response is something like this :

"Oh well, I guess that makes sense - you're now in your middle age and the body doesn't need as much protein as before". And somebody else commented "You're going to have to be careful as you get older - a pure vegetarian diet will need to be supplemented with meat, otherwise there could be problems".

Oh woe to the vegan/vegetarian - they're all on course for their bodies to fall apart as they age, unless they resort to meat protein!

Clearly, this is another of those popular "old wives tale" - misconceptions at best, and at worst it's a deliberately orchestrated effort by the pro-meat lobby to get the general public to eat more meat.

Let's kill the lie straight away - "An acre of cereal produces five times more protein than an acre used for meat production; legumes such as beans, peas and lentils can produce 10 times more protein and, in the case of soya, 30 times more." - ("Meat Makes the Rich Ill, and the Poor Hungry" - Jeremy Rifkin)

And from the same source, it can be noted that 157 million tonnes of cereals, vegetable protein and legumes are fed to animals annually, to produce 28 million tonnes of animal protein. Imagine if that plant material were to be funnelled instead into feeding humanity? And who benefits? Why the global corporations which supply the world's seed, chemicals, cattle and which control the slaughterhouses, the sale and distribution of meat of course!

It's a stark thought that 80 per cent of the world’s hungry children live in countries which have food surpluses which are fed to animals for consumption by the affluent in other countries.  And while diseases of affluence such as heart attacks, strokes, diabetes and cancer are brought on by eating animal products, the world’s poor are dying from diseases of poverty. And as another example, consider that almost the entire population of India and China, nearly two billion people, could be fed on the protein consumed and largely wasted by the United States’ beef herd.(Ibid.)

Do you want to Feed the World  ? It's easy! See also Plant based protein sources and also Obtaining adequate protein. Incidentally, while on the latter page, be sure to also look at Mad cow 1 and 2, and also Mad Cow Researchers.

"Dying for some lunch" takes on a new meaning....