Avoiding meat reduces suffering in the world

Published 30/01/2013 | 13:08

Dear Sir, What upsets members of the public about the fact that horses and pigs are contained in burgers?

In terms of being used as food for humans, other animals are equally inappropriate, whether they be cats or dogs, horses, pigs or cows, fishes or chickens. They are equal in their capacity to suffer when bred and killed for food. They are equal in the devastating effects that their rearing for food has on world hunger, on the destruction of the environment that we share with other animals for our survival, in the vast resources they consume, and in the risk of ill health they pose to the humans who eat them.

So if all non-human animals are equally unsuitable for use as food, why are people expressing horror at finding horses and pigs in their food, when they only expected cows?

The answer may lie in the social and psychological processes whereby socio-cultural norms are transmitted and learned. After all, in the Irish context we express horror at the notion of eating dogs, whereas in many cultural contexts this is a the norm. While we consume vast quantities of dairy products in Ireland. In a Chinese context drinking the milk of another species is viewed with horror.

Socio-cultural norms can be unlearned with just a little effort and given the arguments in favour of a plant-based diet it seems that that little effort is very worthwhile. Given the amount of suffering that other animals experience when they are used to produce food for humans, the effort tends to pale in comparison to the liberty from oppression that our small dietary changes can confer on them.

There is no property of other animals that humans require as food that they cannot get from non-violent plant-based sources. World dietetics societies confirm that vegan or plantbased diets containing no animal products are healthy and nutritionally adequate for all stages of life, including pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood and adolescence, and for athletes.

A plant-based vegan diet is enjoyable, healthy and inexpensive. More importantly, it is a way of eating that greatly reduces the amount of violence and suffering in our world. There are active vegan groups in almost every county in Ireland and across the UK. They are available to support others who wish to make the transition to this non-violent way of living. Readers are welcome to contact us for free vegan mentoring. Sandra Higgins, Chamberstown House, Slane, Co Meath matildaspromise@yahoo.ie matildaspromise.org and veganireland.org

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