Every workday, for eight hours a day, often for many years on end, a worker gets up and has breakfast, then goes in to the office, picks up a blade, and starts slitting the throats of live dogs. That day, he or she will personally slit the throats of about 600 or more dogs per hour, every hour, all day, and will often do this for 20, 30, or 40 years.
But it gets even stranger. There are many thousands of these workers all doing this at the same time in thousands of locations around the country and world. And the strangest part: they are not actually slitting the throats of dogs, but an even smarter and more complex sentient, emotionally-nuanced species: pigs.
Studies have found that pigs are not only smarter than dogs, but also smarter than three year old children.
However, as Marc Bekoff, PhD, notes in Psychology Today, maybe this shouldn’t matter.
Bekoff writes that “cross-species comparisons are relatively meaningless and get us on a slippery slope … because some people claim that supposedly smarter animals suffer more than supposedly dumber animals and that it’s okay to use the dumber individuals in all sorts of invasive and abusive ways. There are absolutely no sound scientific reasons to make this claim and indeed, the opposite might actually be the case, but we really don’t know. Lori Marino, founder of the Kimmela Center for Animal Advocacy, Inc., who also works on The Someone Project, says it well: “The point is not to rank these animals but to re-educate people about who they are. They are very sophisticated animals.” I’ve emphasized the word who because these animals are sentient beings, whos, not whats.”
“…the claim that it’s okay to slaughter pigs, for example, rather than dogs, because dogs would suffer more, is misleading and vacuous and there are no data to support it. All of these mammals, and all other mammals, are sentient beings who share the same neural architecture underlying their emotional lives and who experience a wide spectrum of emotions including the capacity to feel pain and to suffer.“
“…mice, rats, and chickens”, Bekoff writes, “display empathy and are very smart and emotional.”
Compassionate individuals are thus all the more alarmed to learn that standard practices of the major companies like Foster Farms involve stuffing dozens of chickens together into large plastic bags and sealing the bags so the chickens suffocate to death. Trying to escape and live, many of the birds claw and peck at the bag, poking holes in it. The excruciating suffocation process can last an hour or so. At that point, if there are any birds left alive, workers dump them into a second bag to continue the death process.
“…when we pay attention to solid evolutionary theory, namely Charles Darwin’s ideas about evolutionary continuity, we see that we humans are not the only smart, sentient, and emotional beings. Indeed, it’s bad biology to rob nonhumans of their cognitive and emotional capacities and we’re not inserting “something human” into these animals that they don’t already possess.”
“…the Cambridge Declaration on Consciousness, underwritten by world-renowned scientists, notes that available scientific data show clearly that all mammals, and some other animals, are fully conscious beings. It’s clear that the time is right for a Universal Declaration on Animal Sentience that involves people personally taking responsibility for the choices they make when they interact with other animals.”
Bekoff concludes with an observation on the direction society is going, and where Indian society has directed us for millennia: “…as people come to realize that they are eating pain and suffering, non-animal meals will likely become more common.”
Indeed, with information increasingly accessible, more and more people are learning about how terrible animal products (including ‘organic’, ‘free-range’ ones) are ethically and for their health, how much better they can feel and how much longer they can live on unprocessed, plant-based diets, and how the vice of consuming animal products in the major wealth-extracting, Western countries (and some others) is depriving a starving world of healthy, plant-based foods.
These areas have long been researched by scholars, and the arguments in favor of people in wealthy countries eating animal products have all been thoroughly debunked. Yes, all of them. Knowing this is simply a matter of looking into it a little and rejecting dogmatism and ignorance in favor of evidence and reality.
If you live in a Western country, do some good-faith research (starting with the sources provided for you above), and still decide to exploit animals for your taste-bud pleasure, you may recall that some indigenous societies have beliefs that involve the spirits of animals returning to exact vengeance on their tormentors and killers. As with some facets of ideas from other belief systems, scientific evidence has since emerged to support this kind of thinking: every time you eat an animal product, you are likely increasing your chance of premature death through disease. The animals are defenseless in life, but their ‘spirits’ may come back to haunt you, as they do for hundreds of thousands of people every year in the United States alone.
(As someone who ate animals and animal products for many years, I am not out of the woods, myself, but a plant-based diet may be helping to reverse any damage I have done.)
Robert J. Barsocchini is an internationally published author who focuses on force dynamics, national and global, and acts as a cross-cultural intermediary for the film and Television industry. His work has been cited, published, or followed by numerous professors, scholars, lawyers, military and intelligence veterans, and journalists. Updates on Twitter. Author’s pamphlet ‘The Agility of Tyranny: Historical Roots of Black Lives Matter’.