On Food for the Soul
The New York Times' Nicholas D. Kristof frustrates me. His passion and compassion for humans is immense, but he appears to have some kind of mental block with nonhuman animals. He comes so close to grasping the concept of justice based on sentience, but his thinking is all muddled by tradition and culture. The result is that on one level he knows that hurting sentient nonhumans isn't right, but if it's done in a certain respectful way (oxymoron, anyone?) it's not so bad.
I suppose speciesism/human exceptionalism is at the heart of the matter. He just doesn't believe that other beings lives might have a purpose all their own that is entirely unrelated to humans. He romanticizes his childhood usage of animals as if that was the right way to do it, and he longs for those days. He is mere steps away from wondering whether there is a right way to use another, but those steps are a chasm for him.
In "Food for the Soul," Kristof once again yearns for the farm of his childhood which, for him, had "soul." What that means is that it wasn't a factory-farm operation. The animals were still bred and raised for slaughter, but evidently in some kind of soulful way we don't really hear about. Essentially, industrialized farming=soulless, small family farm=soulful. I wish Kristof would remove his soul-colored glasses and take a gander at The Humane Myth or read about animals who are rescued from small family farms, many of whom end up at places like Poplar Spring Animal Sanctuary, Maple Farm Animal Sanctuary, Eastern Shore Sanctuary and Peaceful Prairie Sanctuary.
Kristof writes of the "decent and varied lives" that small farms provide animals with. I'm not sure how that equals soul. Food for my soul involves nutrient-rich plants and grains and legumes that provide me with just about everything I need to be in fantastic health (let's not have the B12 discussion). Food for my soul does not involve grilled greyhound any more than it involves grilled chicken. It doesn't involve taking the life of someone who'd much rather not have her life taken. It doesn't involve forcing any sentient being to do anything or go anywhere or eat anything . . . or die . . . on my schedule and for my palate.
I don't know how any person's soul can be considered fed at the expense of another sentient being.
You can comment, along with the people who thought Kristof's sentiments were "beautiful," here. I'm on my way.