Email about attitudes to nonhuman animals.
Tue, 3 Aug 1999
Subject: more attitudes to animals
Further to yesterday's email, you might like to read the following, it is very indicative of mainstream attitudes to “food” animals...i.e. they are not animals.
Some months back I was with two colleagues from London Animal Action. We had set up a stall at Angel Islington, complete with posters and leaflets. Whenever people stopped to sign our petitions we invited them to help themselves to as many leaflets as they wanted. About the time when school knocked off, we had a number of schoolgirls (about 13 - 15
years) signing. One group of about 4 started talking to us, yes, they loved animals, and yes, it was cruel to put them in laboratories, circuses etc.
They took a few leaflets, then one noticed the leaflet entitled “Eating Animals.”
“Oh, look, some people eat animals. How gross.”
“You’re vegetarian or vegan, are you?” I asked.
“No. I’m not vegetarian,” the one replied.
“Then you eat animals, too.”
“Of course I don’t. But I’m not vegetarian,” she said.
“But, if you're not a vegetarian, then that means you eat animals. Vegetarianism means not eating animals,” I persisted.
“No, I wouldn’t eat animals, that’s disgusting.”
“Then you must be a vegetarian.”
“No, I’m not. I eat meat, but I don’t eat animals.”
By this time my two friends were listening to this, quite astounded.
“Well, let’s put it this way,” I said. “Do you eat hamburgers and things?”
“Yes, of course I do. We all do. But they’re not made out of animals.”
“What do you think that lump of mince meat is in the middle of the bun?”
“Lamb or cow, or something, I guess.”
“Right,” I said. “And what are lambs and cows? They’re animals!”
“No they’re not,” the girls chorused. “They’re not proper animals. Animals are cats and dogs and things like that.”
“No,” I said. “Animals are cows and lambs and pigs as well.”
“Oh, no,” the first one said. “You can’t count them as animals. They’re just things that taste good.”
They went off with various leaflets, but didn't take the ones on vegetarianism/veganism. They could not acknowledge that they ate animals, real, proper animals that is.
That’s what we’re up against, Roger.
However, one glimmer of hope. I still think the future for animals lies in educating the young, and to that end I will be going into schools representing VIVA!, in order to teach children the happiness and health there is to be had when one desists from eating animals. Viva is having a training day on 18 September, unfortunately that is the day of a Hillgrove national demo, so I had to make a choice, and I see children as a long-term investment.
Books for children and young adults consulted for the socialisation section of this thesis and not used in the main text.
Our Pets by Ed Catherall, Hove: Wayland (1985).
‘Science is Fun’ Series.
For age: 10.
This book features topics such as ‘My Pet’ and ‘Your Friends Pets’ etc., with appropriate questions. For example, in the ‘My Pet’ section (p. 4), the text asks, ‘What sort of pet do you have?’ In a piece about ‘Pet Food’ (p. 7), the children are asked, ‘Which pet food advertisements can you remember?’ In ‘Pet Shows’ (p. 15), the author asks, ‘Have you ever entered your pet in a pet show?’, and suggests that children, ‘Arrange your own pet show’ including categories such as, ‘The Happiest Pet’, ‘The Most Obedient Pet’ or ‘The Cleverest Pet’. In ‘Training Pets’ (p. 16), Catherall inquires, ‘What is your pet trained to do?’ and ‘What are your friends training their pets to do?’
In ‘Trained Animals’ (p. 18), the reader is asked whether she has ‘seen circus animals?’ ‘What tricks could the animals do?’ is the next question, followed by the most potentially ‘animal rights’ question: ‘How do you think these animals were trained?’ The text (p. 19) recommends that children visit a zoo to ‘see how the animals are kept’, and asks the question: ‘Do they live like they would in the wild?’
By page 23 Catherall is wanting to know ‘Which pets are for sale in your local pet shop?’ and ‘which pet would you most like to own?’
Animals at Work by Robin and Jacelyn Wild,
: Heinman (1973). London
This book is essential set up as a historical account of how other animals came to ‘work’ for human beings. The authors imply that a form of social contract exists between humans and nonhumans within a framework of animal welfarism: ‘Think of how much we have gained from the hard work animals have done for us so patiently through the years. They still work for us and still give us great pleasure. In return we should look after them and treat them well’ (p. 46).
Stories include accounts of how earlier foragers came across young animals when gathering food and subsequently introduced them into human families (p. 9). Farmers are said have benefitted through a cooperative relationship with wild cats who ‘came to eat the rats and mice’ on their farms (p. 15).
As well as their ‘peacetime work’ undertaken ‘for men’, animals also work for humans during times of war. The authors state that ‘no animal has fought for us more often than the horse’ (p. 28). Page 32 tell the story of bats in WWII who were part of a ‘secret plan’ to attack the enemy. Each bat was to be fitted with a small time bomb in a harness. After being dropped over enemy territory by parachute, the bats were expected the make for local buildings, chew through their harnesses, flay away and leave the bombs to explode!
The Wilds go on to tell their readers (p. 38) that ‘both children and grown-ups enjoy watching animals do tricks. Explaining that performing bears used to be a common sight as they were ‘taken around from place to place for people to watch their clumsy imitation of a dance’, the authors note that it is still possible to see performing dogs at Punch and Judy shows and circuses still have ‘the troupe of beautiful horses trotting round the circus ring or the snarling lions that jump through hoops of fire. Even fleas can be taught to do tricks!’
About Some Animals That Work For Us by Melvin John Uhl,
Frederick Muller (1966).
Uhl tells the story of ‘early man’s’ domestication of animals. Dogs were probably the first to be trained, he says, and as people came to trust dogs they probably ‘learned to love them as well. No doubt they felt the same way about their dogs that you do about yours’ (p. 4) and luckily, ‘a dog will try to do almost anything in order to be loved by its master’ (p. 40). Because there were no shops or butchers in those days, Uhl goes on, men had to hunt animals for food and other animals were trained to help them (p. 5).
On page 8 Uhl declares that, ‘You probably think of your cat as nothing more than a pet’. However, cats have ‘been working for man for many, many years’. Turning to ‘animal helpers’ in far-away countries, the author states that the mongoose is easily trained as a pest controller but they could not be introduced to Britain because ‘if allowed to run wild, they would eat the farmer’s chickens, turkeys, and othe fowl in addition to the rats’ (p. 13).
‘Man’ is on safer ground with Oxen, who are ‘among man’s oldest known helpers’ (p. 30) and is strong like the water buffalo who is big yet easy to train (p. 33) in contrast to the difficult in training elephants (p. 28).
Domesticated Animals by Bertha Morris Parker & W.S. Weichert,
: Exeter (1963). Wheaton
On p. 3 on this book, the authors ask children to ‘imagine yourself being forced to get meat to eat by hunting such animals as bear and deer with a rough stone axe. The text says that foragers may take ‘all day’ to find enough food. P. 4 states that ‘man’ could tame existing wild animals if necessary. However, ‘those tamed long ago serve our purposes so well that animal breeders give little thought to other wild animals that they might domesticate’. On p. 35, the authors give some evidence on being well ahead of future genetic modifiers of other animals - or at least they talk about selective breeding: ‘There are doubtless other hybrid possibilities. Some of them are sure to be developed if and when man sees a need for them’.
Animals at Work by Edward Ramsbottom & Jason Redmayne,
Education (1977). London
Aimed at very young children.
P. 4 introduces children to police dogs. ‘Here is Rex’, the text says, ‘catching a thief’. ‘Pretend Rex is your dog. Write a story of an exciting adventure you have together’.
Animals That Help Us. The Story of Domestic Animals by Carroll Lane Fenton & Herminie B. Kitchen,
: Dobson (1963). London
On p. 18 Fenton & Kitchen tell children about social class relationships around AD900, ‘laws decreed that only nobles and gentlemen might keep greyhounds for hunting. Common people who lived around forests were allowed to keep sheep dogs and certain pet dogs. But anyone who owned a large dog, such as a hound or mastiff, had to make it lame by cutting tendons in its ‘knees’. This kept it from chasing the nobleman’s deer’.
P. 123 says that, ‘Elephants also have good-sized brains. The brain of a 4-ton elephant weighs almost 10 pounds, which is more than 3 times as much as the brain of a human being. But the elephant’s brain is not as good as ours, and it cannot think nearly as well’.
Slugs by David Greenberg,
Pepper Press (1983). London
More than half of this book is spent on ways people could harm slugs - usually by eating them in various ways (covering them with chocolate, for example, to serve as sweets). However, there are other ways suggested: ‘Sizzle them on light bulbs’ (p. 8), ‘Dissect a slug with scissors, Poke one with a tweezer, Pop one in the microwave, Freeze one in the freezer’ (p. 9). ‘Drop one in a blender’ (p. 11). ‘Slick a Slug with Super Glue’ (p. 13). ‘Roast ‘em, Toast ‘em, Stew ‘em, Chew ‘em, Dump ‘em in your mother’s bath, Ask her to shampoo ‘em’ (p. 18). ‘Tie one to a bottle rocket, Lauch it, Zappo, Zingo!, Shoot one from a slingshot, Through a neighbour’s window’ (p. 22). The last few pages feature suggestions about what giant slugs might do to you, ending with the words: ‘Then they’ll stuff you a barbage can, And Leave you overnight, And after how you’ve treated Slugs, It surely serves you right!’ (p. 31).
The Times, Thu
Animal rights protest at
For the first time animal rights activists protested against the annual running of the bulls in
American-funded group attempted to take the glamour out of an event made famous
by Ernest Hemingway's novel “The Sun Also Rises”. Pamplona
The small group of American and British-led protesters raised their banners just before six fighting bulls were let loose to chase hundreds of runners, many wearing typical red and white
costumes, down the northern Spanish city’s narrow cobbled streets to the bullring on the first day of the annual eight-day San Fermin fiesta.
The international campaign against the bull-run included the placing of advertisements in American newspapers and running television advertisements on specialist travel channels.
It urged the thousands of young Americans, Canadians, Australians and Britons who follow Hemingway's route to
every year to boycott the San Fermin festival. Pamplona
“Even Hemingway himself acknowledged the cruelty and tragedy of the bullfight,” said Andrew Butler, spokesman for the American-based People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals organisation, which led the protest.
But Hemingway fans, including hundreds of young Americans who each year treat the bull-run as a rite of passage into manhood, prefer to remember Hemingway as one of the greatest admirers of both the bullfight and of the San Fermin fiesta.
Yesterday’s protesters said they had been warned by local anti-bullfight activists not to protest at the site of the bull run as the runners could have turned violent. “It would not have been the first time that violence against bulls has been turned against people,” Mr Butler said.
However, the protest was largely ignored by the hundreds of runners whose minds were fixed on the dangers of the half-mile dash along the often slippery cobbled streets.
Yesterday’s run resulted in several injuries and two local people were taken to hospital though neither was in a serious condition. A total of 13 people have died in the bull-runs since 1924.
The anti-bull protest came as
itself was busy paying homage to Hemingway ahead of the centenary of his birth
on July 21. Pamplona
From firstname.lastname@example.org Mon Feb 28 2000
Tue, 1 Feb 2000 +0000 (GMT)
Subject: Meat Eaters Survey.
1. Can you in a sentence or two explain why you eat meat?
· I was brought up eating meat so I don't know what it's like not to eat it. (besides, I hate fruit & vegetables!!).
· Because I like it, and in moderation I like to get some meat in my diet each week, usually white meat. for the same reason I eat loads of fruit. So for health and liking reasons.
· Meat is a good source of fibre, protein and minerals which the body needs on a daily basis to maintain growth and general health
· I have a problem with food (psychological problem causes convulsions of stomach and throat) and do not like many thing and so have a limited diet. Animal meat/products are the best single source of protein to help me keep a balanced diet (possibly just the lazy option?)
· Because it tastes nice, and I’m not too keen on a lot of vegetables
· It’s tasty, and you don't have to be so picky when you shop.
· It’s natural, survival of the fittest, we’re at the top of the food chain.
2. How would you respond to the argument that humans have no right to eat other animals?
· Humans have been eating other animals since the dawn of time. If it was so bad and wrong, wouldn't someone, somewhere have stopped it along the way?
· I would say that if we are talking morals then no we don't have any rights. But most meat eaters don't consider it to be a moral issue. The argument from nature. Its natural, we are omnivores, and we eat other animals just as other animals either eat or are eaten. Its not about rights, its just about survival. Whether or not the survival argument is relevant in western society today is another issue.
· Humans are themselves fundamentally classified as animals, and since in nature animals prey on other animals for food, it is therefore logical that humans should follow this example. Although, in my opinion the techniques of large output farming are questionable - at least in their natural surroundings, when animals are hunted down as a food source, they are given a fighting chance.
· Given my faith I try to follow the teachings of the bible and in there is the separation of man from the animals, and our authority to use them as a source of food. Although this is no justification to be cruel to them and make them suffer, and abuse them for the benefit of man in ways other than for food. Also man by design (teeth, eye position, digestive system etc.) is suited to a carnivorous (of at least omnivorous) existence and a lot of organisation and planning etc. is required to get a balanced diet without eating animal meat/products (or does it ?). Could a vegetarian/vegan have survived in the past ?
· Try getting a lion to eat a nut-roast!
· Who says
· There's nothing wrong with it as long as the animals are treated OK (i.e. free range and quick death, with short transport).
[from the single vegetarian respondent].
Hey, this is actually a subject on which I DO have an opinion !!
Although perhaps my answers aren't appropriate to the questions !
1. Can you in a sentence or two explain why you eat meat?
· I don't eat meat. I've not done so for over 7 years. Why do I not eat meat ? well, I guess superficially it's simply a healthier lifestyle choice. But a more meaningful answer would be a belief in Buddhist philosophy re: transmigration of souls, and the compassion for all living things.
· But when I did eat meat, I did so purely because of tradition. Raised on meat and two veg, it was a subliminal habit.
2. How would you respond to the argument that humans have no right to
eat other animals?
· From a spiritual view point we have no right to take a life. But spirituality is all about enhancing your inner self, becoming a "better" person. For some people that is a luxury. When food is scarce, we cannot judge people for killing to survive. It’s the nature of things. I live a privileged life where I have a choice. The supermarkets are full of fruit and vegetables, not only can I satisfy my needs quite easily.
 In the glossary of the book (p. 24), Catherall includes ‘Obedient’ with the definition: ‘Willing to do what you are told’. He aslso states that a shepherd is someone whose job is to ‘look after’ sheep.