Is it possible to save animals lives?
Not really. Not ultimately.
But it is possible to give them good lives.
Therein lies the crux of the animal rights issue.
You cannot save a life forever, but you can make a life good to live.
Is it possible that vegans and compassionate carnivores are really working toward the same thing?
Neither group should skirt around the reality of the death of animals.
We should not pretend that animals live forever, nor should we pretend that taking the life of an animal is a casual act.
We both want animals on pasture. We both want animals to be happy. In the bigger picture, we both want a sustainable future and a healthy planet.
On a personal level, we both want to live happy good long lives and have great health.
I think there might be a way forward, together.
Some people believe that humans are morally superior to all other animals. Some people believe that humans are just like all the other animals.
But regardless of how we perceive ourselves in this world, we have more of an impact on it than any other animal species. That is undeniable.
With our enlarged brains and opposable thumbs, we have drastically altered the planet’s climate within the last couple of hundred years.
With our unique ability to look into the future and past with our imaginations, we synthesis our collective knowledge and create technologies that have enhanced our ability to survive in all habitats and environments.
We are intense generalists. We use technology to conquer obstacles that other animals use evolution to defeat, such as the seal and her tubular body covered in fat to withstand the cold frozen depths of the Arctic Ocean.
We live in places we shouldn’t live because we can. We eat things we shouldn’t eat because we can. We make things and destroy things and create fictions that we follow to the death, because we can.
All at an intense expenditure of fossil fuel energy, and a subsequent release of Greenhouse Gases into the atmosphere.
We’re obstinate. Were crazy. We’re deluded. But in the end we cannot save animals lives, because at some point they will die, just as we will. But we can provide them with better lives while they live on this planet, just as we have for ourselves.
Take a rescue dog as an example.
Every year about 6.5 million companion animals enter U.S. animal shelters. 3.3 million of those are dogs, and about 3.2 million are cats. 1.5 million of these animals are euthanized.
Each one of us can only do as much as we can individually to alleviate the suffering of these unwanted companion animals. Each pet is an animal brought into this world with the sole reason of providing companionship to a pet owner.
Just a generation of ago, when the majority of Americans were farmers, cats and dogs had a wide variety of uses as well. They kept away predators, herded livestock, ate rodents that destroyed crops, and kept the farm safe and secure.
Even today dogs are increasingly utilized in a wide variety of roles. Their skills in many avenues far surpass our human abilities, and they are amazing creatures to work with. They rescue lost humans, they sniff out drugs and bombs, they can sense cancer, they provide essential services for autistic children, and on and on.
In recent news I saw that dogs are now trained to take down mass shooters.
I love dogs, and I wish I could adopt more of them. But we all have limits to our abilities, based on countless factors. We have to do the best that we can within those limits.
I also love pigs and cows, but not in the same way. They are not a part of my household, and they have been domesticated to be turned into food for humans.
Their main job is to turn pasture and feed into delicious nutrient dense foods for us.
It is not realistic to think that we could rescue them from this fate. If we don’t breed and raise them, they would either overpopulate and eventually die of starvation in the winter, or be brutally killed by predators, their throats ripped out and guts chomped on by hungry dogs, bears, or big cats.
But we can give them good lives while they live on this planet.
In the US in 2017, we slaughtered about 32 million head of cattle, and a 121 million head of swine. The majority of those animals are either raised in confinement or raised in feedlots. Neither environment is productive or peaceful for the animals.
All animals, whether companions or livestock, should enjoy the sun, breathe fresh air, and have access to fresh water. All animals should have some social opportunities. They need stimulation and they need care.
When we take on responsibility for animals, we take on responsibility for their whole lives.
A livestock animal is destined to be food. It wouldn’t exist otherwise. We bred these species to provide food and fiber for us, in every climate and habitat imaginable.
Just because we now steal fossil fuel energy from the depths of the planet so that we can unnaturally grow annual grain crops to feed us all year long doesn’t mean that is the ethical way to grow food. Or the ultimate way, or the best way.
The best way, the most regenerative way, to grow food is with a cow on pasture, with sun, water, and air as our only inputs. The perennial grasses and plants feed the cow, and the cow feeds us.
It is a circle of life. It is Regenerative Agriculture.
Degenerative Agriculture will last as long as we have the resources and the wherewithal to keep it going, but when we do not, when we run out of political capital and industry subsidies, these livestock animals that some are trying to “save” will again become essential for our survival, our true saviors, and our companion animals will again become our trusted partners in survival.
Till then, we continue to bicker about the ethics of eating animals.
It is right to eat animals, as much as it is right that in the end animals will eat all of us, but it is not right to keep them stuffed away in a cramped warehouse or a muddy feedlot.
This is the pragmatic reality that we, all of us who care about animals, must face head-on and address on a daily basis. We need to leave our differences of opinion by the wayside in order to work against the proliferation of Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations that are funded by the vast multi-conglomerate corporations that are intensely invested in the Degenerative Agriculture industry, for their own cancerous growth and survival.
As a whole, Vegans, Vegetarians, Compassionate Carnivores, and Ethical Omnivores all need to join forces in order to fundamentally change this system down to its very core. We do not want to live in a Genetically Modified future, filled with superbugs, drought, and dead topsoil deserts.
So let’s join forces for now, and once we have toppled Cargill, Monsanto, and the rest of them, then we can continue this conversation about ethical meat eating.
I think the hundreds of millions of livestock animals living their lives in CAFOs will thank us.