Respect for animals

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Respect for animals

I’ve been wondering a lot lately about people who say that they love animals and respect them, but then eat them.

How does this work? Are they just using these words to mean something other than what I think they mean?

Love would seem to indicate that they care at least as much for the animal’s life and happiness as they do their own. If I say that I love my wife, I am not getting ready to bash her in the back of the head with a hammer. But if I’m saying I love my rabbits – I could mean this?

What does respect mean if it’s said about a relationship of exploitation, ending in death? And what sort of respect does it show to use all parts of an animal? Would I be happy to be respected by someone who’s going to kill me, as long as all of me gets used?

I think I would pass on this sort of respect. And this sort of love.

What it reminds me of is an abusive relationship, where the abuser claims to love the abused – and he’s only doing what he does out of love, right?

No matter how “nice” the animal’s life was, he will be betrayed, slaughtered, dismembered, and eaten. This really just shows that all the “love” and “respect” are a simple, deluded lie.



March 20, 2009 at 10:15 am

This is such a good point. Back before I became vegan or even vegetarian, I considered myself a HUGE animal lover. I liked animals more than people. And I thought, “Since I’m such an animal lover, I will never wear fur! It’s disgusting! And I’ll never abuse my pets! But EATING animals–that’s different!” And I literally said, “I don’t know how–it just IS.”

Dumb! I just hadn’t thought much, and was in denial, I guess.

Ed Coffin

March 20, 2009 at 7:02 pm

It’s funny how this logic play out in peoples’ minds, isn’t it?


March 22, 2009 at 1:25 pm

This is something I’ve been wanting to blog about for a while as well, so will link to your post 🙂 It’s something that bothers me a lot these days, coming from a family that considers ourselves huge animal lovers and supporters, but I’m the only one of six that doesn’t eat meat or wear animals. It’s very confusing to me…


March 23, 2009 at 5:09 pm

When I was younger, I didn’t know I was eating animals until I was around seven. I didn’t know that beef was from a cow, or even that McNuggets were chicken. I was not taught about where food comes from. And I think a lot of people still see ‘food’ and ‘animals’ as separate. Because most of us are so sheltered from the way farm animals are raised and slaughtered, it’s easy to separate the two. That’s why it’s the responsibility of activists to educate people about the full process, unpleasant as that may be.
Thank goodness I had such a deep relationship with my stuffed animals as a kid ; ) , and then later my dog, Turbeau, to put me on the right track.


March 23, 2009 at 5:12 pm

BTW – See for
“The Girl In The Roses”
An Animal Activist Short Story


March 24, 2009 at 3:02 pm

Listen to: “Honoring the Animals We Eat–Just Like the Native Americans
Further to the above, Tom Regan is quite clear about his rejection of cultural relativism– the idea of moral judgements being statements of a culture’s mores. Steven Best called the issue a red herring. I would agree.

Amanda Daniell

March 25, 2009 at 8:29 pm

I so often see, as you obviously do too, in my debates and posted on articles: “I am an animal lover, but I still enjoy eating them….!!!”


Your metaphor of an abusive relationship and using love as a reason for rape and oppression is really a brilliant argument.

Thank you for that.


March 25, 2009 at 9:27 pm

A prime example of an ‘animal lover’ is Paris Hilton. On her BBF show the other day (don’t ask), she was repeatedly saying she was an animal lover as she made out with her ferret, and explained that this was why her favourite place in the world was this particular giant pet store. It’s obvious, Paris, that you love animals – you do commercials for Carl’s Junior, buy your pets in bulk from puppy mills, and wear fur. But it’s beyond easy to make fun of Paris, the thing is many people are just like her. My hardocre barbecuing Albertan family are huge dog lovers who treat their dogs as members of the family, but they can easily separate themselves from imagining where the food on their plates comes from. I think the key to raising awareness about the evidence for animals as sentient beings is to make this footage unavoidable. People are marketed meat every few seconds during commercials (between the ads for medical companies and toxic cleaning products). If carrots and poorly kept cows got as much airtime, people would purchase differently.


March 26, 2009 at 5:48 pm

Thanks for the kind words Amanda!

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