Plant based is anti-human

Re: The end of meat

I was vegetarian/pescatarian for almost a decade for ethical reasons. However, I started to eat meat again from a growing recognition that the act of eating involves more than just reflexively labelling entire groups of foods as “good” or “bad,” or reductively calculating a food’s associated carbon emissions. It’s much more complicated than that.

Eating is a social and joyful act that carries with it cultural and aesthetic values that cannot be as easily dismissed as many plant-based advocates would have you believe. It’s undeniable that the treatment of animals in the industrial agriculture system is inhumane and efforts should be made to improve their welfare. But I think a plant-based diet is anti-human: it is a denial of the fact that we are creatures embedded within a complex (and messy) social and environmental ecosystem.

Like most issues worthy of deeper reflection and consideration, deciding what to eat isn’t so black and white.

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Note: This appeared as a letter to the editor in the National Post

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

cow-computer

Humans are naturally novelty-seeking animals. Most people, most of the time, are rarely satisfied with the way things are. We want new, and we want it now. The mantra of “new is better” is assumed to be a foregone conclusion and often goes unchallenged.

This is particularly true for technology. Many people become reflexively obsessed with any and all new technologies, regardless of their utility or the benefits they actually provide. The latest iPhone can be launched with giddy enthusiasm, and not even a day will pass before 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!