Not too many thousands of years ago, for reasons about which there is much speculation, humans domesticated the carnivorous primogenitors of today’s cats and dogs. Although their bodies have undergone much change as a result of domestication and breeding, felines and canines have maintained and carried forward one distinctive trait: They are naturally designed to kill and eat other animals to survive.
For conscientious individuals, those who are serious about a plant-based diet, the thought of killing animals and eating parts of their remains is not a tenable way to go about life on Earth. A natural extension of the choice to be plant-based is this question: If I am unwilling to kill animals or to have them killed, rendered, cooked and put on my plate, then how is it justifiable for me to kill animals or to have them killed, rendered and put into the food bowl of a carnivorous companion animal?
This is the crux of the conundrum of compassion that underlies Rowdy Keelor’s desire for “uncompromised compassion” toward all sentient beings and his desire to protect all animals [“Spreading the Word: Brother Wolf Animal Rescue Launches Asheville Vegan Outreach Initiative,” April 20, Xpress]. I wish it were otherwise, but unfortunately in keeping a cat or a dog, you have to participate in the exploitation and/or destruction of other animals.
We believe that we display compassion by taking home a rescue animal. But who’s going to rescue all of those animals that will be put to death to feed the animals we have rescued?
So, how does one deal with this problem? You can attempt to turn your companion animal against its nature and rationalize that feeding him or her a vegetarian diet is OK. But it doesn’t take a lot of thought to see problems with doing this, one being that it’s the antithesis of the oft-heard vegan position that carnivores are designed and meant to eat animals, and we humans are not. If you are making your dog or cat eat a vegetarian diet, are you being compassionate toward your companion animal?
And how about Brother Wolf? Does Brother Wolf feed animals to other animals? If the answer is yes, then that’s one very problematic answer.
A few thousand years ago, a sage walked the Earth, and this saying is attributed to him: One is not called noble who harms living beings. By not harming living beings, one is called noble.
It turns out that the question Mr. Keelor posed is a very good one for Mountain Xpress readers and for Mr. Keelor himself to consider: How can we love some (animals) so much but have this huge disconnect from others who are just as sentient and just as smart and want to live just as much?
— Jim Brown