The Case for Not Eating Animals

Get this.

Our local pet shelter is a “no kill” shelter, which means they won’t put an animal down due to over-crowding. They use local foster families and shuffle dogs to different shelters, all to save dogs from being killed.

But honestly, who the fuck cares?

I mean come on, it’s just a dog. Why do we go through all that trouble?

Did you know we have hospitals… modern hospitals dedicated to dogs and cats? In 2015 the United States spent 60 billion dollars on their pets. That’s enough to build a tiny house for every homeless person in America.1

Ok, maybe by now you’re sensing my sarcasm.

The fact is, putting this much effort into caring for dogs and cats is normal, but it seems ridiculous when we compare it to how we treat chickens, cows and pigs.

We spend thousands of dollars to remove bladder stones in a dog then go home and eat a pig that was raised in a tiny cage, separated from their family and killed in a factory farm.

We would never think of killing and skinning our family cat, yet we don’t think twice about paying someone to do that to a cow.

We get outraged when Michael Vick is accused of fighting dogs, yet we don’t raise a finger when 9 billion chickens get killed for food every year in the United States.2


Are we completely clueless or just a group of enormous hypocrites when we say we love animals?

Maybe both.

At least I was, for most of my life.

I knew that something about it wasn’t right, but I didn’t want to change. I don’t regret that time however, because I needed to come to my own conclusions.

There’s nothing worse than adopting someone else’s morals without it being true for you. I don’t recommend that.

The funny thing is for me, the choice to not eat animals isn’t about morality at all, it’s about owning my hypocrisy.

That’s a really important point.

This isn’t about morality.

Given the option between killing a pig and eating a plant-based alternative, I would save the pig every day of the week. It’s not that I’m taking a stance for killing animals being right or wrong, I’m just noticing that I have an inborn caring and compassion for that animal, and if I outsourced it without being willing to kill the animal myself I’m living a convenient, disconnected lie.

Now for those of you who will get all Davey Crockett, King-of-the-Wild-Frontier on me and tell me how you kill rabbits with your bare hands, I’d want you to seriously consider why you don’t eat your dog.

The reason is probably some form of “you love them”, and I totally get that. No one loves dogs more than me. The reason we don’t kill our dogs is we see them as more than just a walking sack of meat. We give them names, we get to know their personalities and we build a relationship with them based on mutual trust and respect.

It’s easy to imagine doing that with a pig, or a cow, because they are no different than dogs and cats. In fact, studies routinely show that pigs are more intelligent than dogs3 but even if they weren’t, what sort of world are we participating in where animals get to live or die based on our random definition of “intelligence”?

It’s ridiculous when you really think about it.

We rate animals on a scale of intelligence, but we are the ones who decide what intelligence means, so the definition ends up being “most like us”.

So what about killing plants?

A common “yeah, but” to plant-based living is pointing out that plants also feel pain, and I totally agree.4

But you know how I know I’m ok with killing plants? I do it all the time.

My reason for not eating meat isn’t about right and wrong, it’s about noticing how I feel about killing animals. Maybe someday I’ll have some hesitation about picking a tomato off a vine, but right now I’m like a fucking serial killer when it comes to killing avocados.

Cold as ice, baby.

This is one of the places I believe the vegan movement fails, because when people have morality shoved in their face, they don’t respond well. Although the people at PETA are well-meaning, they sure are good at making meat-eaters defensive, and I don’t think that helps the cause.

I don’t eat animals because I won’t eat my dog. It’s as simple as that, and it has nothing to do with right and wrong.

What about animals killing other animals?

This is a totally reasonable argument. Animals eat other animals, so why shouldn’t we?

The problem is that we’re still talking about morality. I don’t believe there is a universal moral standard governing our actions, in fact I’ll even go so far as to say that eating animals is in fact morally justifiable.

For me and the vast majority of people we can only eat meat by turning a blind eye to the true cost of it. If we loved the animals we ate as much as we loved our pets, we simply wouldn’t choose to eat them.

That’s the part I couldn’t justify for myself, no matter how much logic I used.

The idea of a pig suffering because it lives in a cage and gets fed steroids isn’t some theory to me, it’s real.

When I hear about baby calves being taken away from their mother hours after birth so the milk can be sold, that’s real for me. To understand that happens and still give money to the dairy industry means that on some level, you are either a psychopath or bypassing your feelings.

Please understand I’m not preaching morals, because I ate meat for years. It’s easy to turn a blind eye when everyone else is doing it too.

Eating animals is normal in our culture, just like cutting the foreskin from a baby boy’s penis, bribing politicians and the nuclear family.

But I digress…

The Future Is Bright

Thanks to vegan technology it’s easier and tastier than ever to not eat animals. There is even a company growing meat cells in a lab.

At the rate we’re going with education and food technology, people will look back on our culture and wonder how we could be so inhumane to animals, all in the name of food preference.

I imagine it will be similar to how we perceive slavery today.

How far would someone get trying to argue for slavery in 2016? It would be ridiculous, and yet these are the reasons we used to use to justify slavery.

Slaves are inferior beings.
Slavery would be too difficult to abolish.
Slaves are essential to certain industries.
God made some people slaves.
Slavery is acceptable in this culture.

How long will it take us for us to say the same thing about eating animals?


Get weekly thought-provoking essays that question the status-quo
(and question questioning the status-quo).

  1. $60 billion ÷ 1.5 million homeless = $40,000. Avg cost of tiny home = $37,000