In a recent Los Angeles Times op-ed, famed ethics philosopher Peter Singer and animal activist and author Karen Dawn discuss how giving up red meat actually increases animal suffering.
Many people will stop eating meat from larger animals like pigs and cows but continue eating chicken and fish. Some do this for health reasons, but it’s typically because humans feel a stronger connection to larger mammals who are similar to pets.
Replacing cows and pigs with birds and fish usually leads to the slaughter of more animals because birds and fish are smaller.
Cows, pigs, fish, and birds are sentient beings capable of suffering and feeling pain just like our pets. In fact, scientists worldwide have demonstrated that fish not only feel pain but are conscious of it. Fish even feel pleasure in ways similar to dogs, cats, and other animals.
The notion that fish are dumb couldn’t be further from the truth. From recognition of faces to developed communication skills, fish are intelligent beings. The same can be said for chickens. They’re able to pass down knowledge from generation to generation and understand that recently hidden objects still exist. This is beyond the capability of a two-year-old child.
Like all animals on factory farms, chickens and fish suffer immensely. There are no federal laws protecting animals on the farm. What’s more, the U.S. Department of Agriculture does not interpret the federal Humane Methods of Slaughter Act to cover birds. This means that 95 percent of the land animals killed for food in the country are excluded.
Mercy For Animals undercover investigations have shown that chickens are routinely thrown and hung upside down and often have their throats cut while conscious. Factory-farmed fish are raised in crowded and filthy conditions and are sometimes skinned alive.
As philosopher Jeremy Bentham once wrote, “The question is not, Can they reason? nor, Can they talk? but, Can they suffer? The answer to this question is simple: All animals can suffer.
Thankfully, animal product consumption is on the decline as millions of people make the switch to a compassionate vegan diet.
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