“Just like the Europeans who enjoyed their morning sweet tea while slaves were suffering to produce their sugar, we are fine with animals suffering just so we get our cheeseburger for dinner”
Yes, I said that. And yes, I eat animals too. My goal with this short post is not to offend or to create conflict, my goal is to simply question our behaviors and to bring awareness to an ongoing issue.
Somewhere along the way, the masses decided that a strong moral compass was too tough to live by, that amazing ideals described by stoic philosophers, Buddhists, Christians, or Confucians were not attainable. So they settled for what is easy - the capitalist and consumerist ideal. Something we are all very comfortable living by.
This ‘ideal” seeks profits as the supreme good. - “as long as we get “money”, we are good”. And this, in turn, hurts every sentient being on the planet. Somehow, this school of thought became our culture, and now is time to talk about it, and evolve into a higher consciousness so we stop sharing these ideals.
In the past, the capitalist and consumerist ideal suggested indifference to slavery. 70% of all slaves in America worked on sugar plantations so sugar barons could enjoy huge profits and Europeans could enjoy their sweet tea. Think about it, human beings had to suffer just so other human beings could enjoy sugar in their freaking tea! The Atlantic slave trade didn’t arise from hatred towards Africans, it was created by for-profit companies. The Maya, Inca, and Aztecs got destroyed because of Spanish entrepreneurs that decided to pitch their ideas and promises to investors who believed in them. One of them being Columbus, who pitched his idea to multiple monarchs to finance his expeditions until Ferdinand and Isabella finally agreed, they got so rich that all the other monarchs started financing expeditions to every brave entrepreneur who wanted to have adventures into the unknown world. The nationalization of Indonesia and India was because of their potential for profit, not because the British and Dutch mercenaries cared about the wellbeing of the people.
In the present, the capitalist and consumerist ideals suggest indifference to many things we don't have control over. However, there are a couple of things we do have control over - our actions. We need to examine our actions.
Are we being indifferent to the suffering of other sentient beings? Are we supporting the Barons, Columbus, and the Dutch mercenaries?
Probably not. Hopefully, we are not hurting human beings with our actions, but what about the planet, what about the animals, are we being indifferent?
Just like us, a dog, a cat, a hen, and a pig, have social and psychological needs. Yes, we are a bit smarter than them, but like us, they have a need to interact with each other, to run around, to be in a “tribe”. Yet, all of these animals typically suffer all their lives from the moment they are born until we kill them so we can enjoy a hot cheeseburger a Thursday night… just like the Europeans who enjoyed their sweet tea while slaves were dying to produce their sugar.
The mass-production of these animals includes suffering and torture from the moment they open their eyes until we kill them. A typical dairy cow will probably spend a lifetime in their own urine and excrement, without the ability to move around, getting her daily dose of hormones and processed chemicals. A typical egg-laying hen will be left in the dark, without the ability to even flap its wings or build a nest because it's usually given a space of 8 inches to survive next to other hens.
(Picture from libraryguides.law.pace.edu )
Just like the Atlantic slave trade, the current animal industry is not fueled by hate towards the animals, but by profit and indifference. Most of us eating chicken or enjoying a hot cup of milk rarely stops to think about the suffering of the animal, just like the Europeans.
So, what if we don't want to be indifferent, what if we care about this planet and the animals?
Let's make sure we are supporting those companies that care about the animals and the planets.
Let's make sure we drive the extra mile to get healthier produce.
Let's make sure we get our eggs from free-range eggs.
Let's stop buying bottled water.
Let's order our meats from farms that care about their cows.
We take action. We study our behaviors and question our ignorance. Is truly not that hard to adopt higher ideals, what is hard is to take action.