We are animals.
All animals live in a system with other animals. Animals are sentient, thoughtful beings.
Some animal classifications are predators, some are prey. There are carnivores, herbivores and omnivores. Some hunt, and some cooperate. Some are social pack animals and others are solitary. Some are roamers or migrators and others are territorial. Some have hierarchies and others have democracies.
Most animals have complex communication capabilities and a similar range of emotions as humans, such as fear, jealousy and depression. Most animals form strong bonds with other beings and mourn their losses.
Humans who think about how other animals think and understand the behavior of other animals can greatly improve their own lives and their communication and connection with other humans and their environment.
But there are two very prominent and important ways that humans interact with animals in the modern world: food and pets.
Part 1 is about food. Part 2 is about pets.
Over 10,000 years ago, humans started transitioning from a hunter-gatherer society to an agricultural society. For many thousands of years, farms were small and animal husbandry was a mostly humane practice. But with an explosion in population and corporations taking over our food system, humans have become so far removed from understanding our food systems, and thinking about the animals as sentient beings, that animals started to be treated as if they have no feelings or thoughts.
Going vegan is great option for some people. BUT… since a very small portion of the population is vegan, and many of us lost the ability to hunt, we need an option to eat farm animals while treating them properly.
The way a society treats animals is usually an indication of how they treat humans, so most of us should want all animals treated humanely, including the humans who work in the food system.
- Humane treatment of livestock animals includes reducing or eliminating fear and pain, but also allowing the animal to act out their innate behaviors such as foraging, grazing, being outdoors, etc…
- Humane treatment of us human animals, includes a safe work environment, respectful and dignified treatment and earning a fair wage.
So, for those of us who do care about other beings (which is probably most of us!), then this holiday season, let’s try to support humane practices.
- Give thanks if you have the financial means to support your local farmer and spend a little extra to support animals and workers who are treated well.
- Give thanks if you have plentiful access to real, fresh food.
- Give thanks if you can pay a little more and eat a little less.
For those of us visiting a host and don’t have an option of where the food was sourced, think about the animal that was your turkey or ham and what kind of a life that animal lived. How were the workers treated and paid?
Practice eating consciously.
Maybe at least just take smaller portions and skip the second helpings of animal products. Small steps by the masses, means moving toward a more humane society.
And, when eating animals, always give thanks that these sentient beings have provided you with nutrition, sustenance, and have given you a chance to gather and celebrate with family, friends and community.
What are your thoughts? Leave a comment about your conscious eating habits.