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Humane Treatment vs. Veganism


(I wrote this on March 6, 2003)

I think it is more important to insist upon humane treatment of domestic animals than to ban domestic animals altogether.

I mean, Vegans don't prohibit keeping pets, right? They prohibit using the skins of those pets for fur, or eating the flesh of those pets for nourishment ...

But who would keep a cow as a pet? If everybody were Vegan, wouldn't cows, chickens, and pigs become extinct? Is there no value to living as a cow as long as a human drinks milk or eats hamburgers? The cow still lives, for a while, potentially enjoying the sunlight, grass, and open air. It seems to me that raising a cow for consumption really isn't any different than raising wheat or apples for consumption. Except for the issue of humane treatment. Cows appear to have some level of intelligence and feelings, so treating them poorly might cause them to feel pain and emotional distress. By not respecting the intelligence and feelings of cows, by treating them inhumanely, we cause them to suffer.

One response would be to avoid eating beef or drinking milk altogether, yes. But I think it would be equally valid to avoid eating beef from cows that are treated poorly. I think a humane treatment campaign would be much more popular than Veganism -- it wouldn't require consumers to change their eating or shopping patterns in such pervasive and totalitarian ways. If instead we created a "humane treatment" logo for furs, milk, and meat, then people could avoid mistreating the animals that provide us with so many useful products.


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