On any given week, you'll find the Xpress teeming with pleas for adopting homeless dogs and cats. You'll also find multiple ads offering to sell you pieces of dead chickens, pigs, cows etc. Such is the schizophrenic relationship between humans and animals.
Rarely, though, will you come across so much ink devoted to eating a species that many consider to be a companion animal (see "A great appearing act: Rabbit shows up on local plates," Sept. 2). The article chronicled the growing local demand for rabbit flesh, yet the only mention of ethical considerations was to note that customers have "apparently recovered from the Easter Bunny syndrome that struck the rabbit industry a few decades ago." A local restaurateur referred to his presentation of rabbit corpses by saying: "They're really cute."
Health author Harvey Diamond highlighted the natural affinity children have for animals this way: "You put a baby in a crib with an apple and a rabbit. If it eats the rabbit and plays with the apple, I'll buy you a new car." I suspect the restaurateur's kids would find the bunnies cuter alive than dead. As they grow, children are taught to offer kindness to some species and to either take pleasure in or, at best, be indifferent to the suffering of others.
In most states, you can be charged with a felony if you are cruel to an animal. Yet many of the same states, including North Carolina, specifically exempt egregious institutional cruelties inflicted upon animals raised for food. I've often wondered why different societies choose to revere some species and eat others. It's clearly not based on intelligence, since chickens score higher on cognitive function tests than do dogs or cats. And it's well-known that pigs are much smarter than dogs. Cuteness must not be the criteria, as most people likely find a bunny more pleasing to the eye than, say, a bulldog.
English philosopher Jeremy Bentham said, "The question is not, can they reason? Nor, can they talk? But, can they suffer?" If we seek a kinder, gentler world, why not start at the dinner table? For recipes and other information, visit www.VegCooking.com.
— Stewart David