An Eco-moo-dernist Manifesto: Technology, meat, and the future of food

cow-computer

Humans are naturally novelty-seeking animals. Whether it be music, art, fashion, even human relationships, most people, most of the time, are rarely satisfied with the status quo. We want new, and we want it often. The mantra of “new is better” is assumed to be a foregone conclusion and often passes unchallenged.

This is particularly true for technology. Many of us become reflexively obsessed with any and all new technologies and new ways of doing things, regardless of the utility or actual benefit they provide. The latest iPhone can be revealed to the world with giddy enthusiasm, and not 24 hours later people become dissatisfied, asking, “When can I get one that’s even better?” It’s a constant grasping for more, an anticipation of what’s next, a hope for something more fulfilling. It’s a symptom of all human minds Continue reading

Questions of great ape personhood

recent op-ed in The Globe & Mail discussed the current ethical implications and debate over the possibility of extending the status of personhood to non-human primates. In response, a letter writer expressed doubt that it should be extended because “they don’t possess rule-structured language” and “without that, we can’t know that they exercise rationality, understanding and self-awareness like we do.”

But is this true? Continue reading

More giraffe ethics

Re: Fed To The Lions

The public outcry seems to be less about the fact that the giraffe was euthanized and more about the way it was carried out: killed, skinned, dissected and fed to lions in front of a crowd that included children.

Fair enough. But I can’t help but wish that the same level of public concern were extended to equally wonderful creatures such as cows and pigs, billions of whom suffer their entire lives, only to be killed, skinned, dissected and then fed to us. Just because their plight is out of sight doesn’t mean it should be out of mind.

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Note: This appeared as a letter to the editor in The Globe & Mail.

Eco-diplomacy

Re: Birds Without Borders: Diplomacy Takes Wing In The Middle East

It was refreshing to read about Israeli, Palestinian and Jordanian wildlife conservationists working together to protect threatened migratory birds by bringing people together from both sides of their borders to teach them about common environmental issues.

It’s a perfect example of how the pursuit of common understanding inherent within the natural sciences is universal, blind to nationality, ethnicity and other superficialities. Now, if only the politicians were able to behave more like scientists.

Note: This appeared as a Letter to the Editor in the Globe & Mail.

Don’t have a cow, man!

A public furor has erupted across the EU as supermarkets across Britain, France and Sweden began pulling millions of beef products from their shelves after tests showed some contained up to 100 per cent horse meat.

Now, I understand that the legal controversy of this case is largely due to the fact that failures within the supply chain ultimately resulted in products being labelled incorrectly; however, if people are more upset about the ethical implications of having potentially eaten horse, shouldn’t they then rethink the ethics of their choice to eat factory-farmed cows in the first place, or, at the very least, admit to having cognitive dissonance? To these upset people I simply say (both figuratively and literally): Don’t have a cow, man!

Two legs better

Re: Raised, Braised

So, Winston Churchill was fond of pigs because he thought they “treat us as equals”.

While there is some truth (and charm) to this, I would advise readers to be wary of any pig that makes such a claim in public. For, as George Orwell once cautioned, it is only a matter of time before it begins to insist – with disastrous results – that while we are indeed all equal, some are more equal than others.

Note: This appeared as a Letter to the Editor in the Globe & Mail.