On Killing Without Necessity
Killing without necessity is morally unjustifiable. No American in 2007 needs to eat animals to survive. They do it because they want to. This is not my opinion–this is a fact.
Killing animals for clothing is morally unjustifiable. No American in 2007 needs to wear leather, fur, wool, cashmere or silk. This is not my opinion–this is a fact.
Bringing animals onto this Earth to use them for your sport or entertainment is morally unjustifiable. We have plenty of animals already, and if you really want to take care of one for the rest of the animal’s lifetime, I’m sure one of the millions of homeless animals will be happy to have a loving home.
Most nonhuman animals, including mammals, birds, and fish, have emotional lives. They feel pleasure and pain, they experience terror, they flee from danger, and they use tools. Some have monogamous, lifelong relationships–some do not. They play games and they tickle each other. They have unique personalities. They recognize their friends and have names for them, as well as names for their enemies. They have their own systems of communication: their own language.
If you honestly think that there is a God and that God decided that everyone and everything was put here for human consumption, read Matthew Scully’s Dominion. He is a former speech writer for President Bush and a very religious man. Dominion was a bestseller. If you honestly think that animals are nothing but creatures with instincts, there are dozens of books written by animal behaviorists that you can use to educate yourself. Among them are books by Harvard Ph.D. and bestselling author Jeffrey Masson, such as:
- The Pig Who Sang to the Moon
- Altruistic Armadillos, Zenlike Zebras: A Menagerie of 100 Favorite Animals
- Raising the Peaceable Kindgom: What Animals Can Teach Us About the Social Origins of Tolerance and Friendship
- The Evolution of Fatherhood: A Celebration of Animal and Human Families
Another bestselling author with a different style and focus (more spiritual) is Susan Chernak McElroy. Try the following books:
- Why Buffalo Dance: Animal and Wilderness Meditations Through the Seasons
- Animals as Guides for the Soul: Stories of Life-Changing Encounters
- All My Relations: Living with Animals as Teachers and Healers
If you’re feeling up to something very intellectually and philosophically challenging for you, go to Professor Gary Francione’s website, and watch these flash presentations:
If you want more from Francione read Rain Without Thunder or Introduction to Animal Rights: Your Child or the Dog? A better book for kids (and with a more general focus of kindness) is 50 Awesome Ways Kids Can Help Animals: Fund and Easy Ways to Be a Kind Kid.
On the nutrition front, anything by Dr. Neal Barnard, President of Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine will be most helpful, including Breaking the Food Seduction. Of course, there’s nothing like reading John Robbins, who was the heir to the Baskin-Robbins fortune (and who walked away from that fortune). Of particular interest is the oldie but goodie, Diet for a New America, and the more recent The Food Revolution and Healthy at 100: The Scientifically Proven Secrets of the World’s Heathiest and Longest-Lived Peoples.
And for you farmers and ranchers out there, check out Howard Lyman, a 4th-generation family farmer in Montana for almost 40 years who is the author of Mad Cowboy: Plain Truth from the Cattle Rancher Who Won’t Eat Meat.
My message? Whether you’re a parent or child, educate yourself about the lives of animals, the impact of raising animals for food on the Earth (here’s a great study
on that from the University of Chicago), the health issues, and the moral issues involved. Get the facts.
Finally, if I’m ultimately going to kill you or have you killed (and profit from it), does it really matter–morally–if I beat you along the way or if I play Mozart while you’re walking to your death?
The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.—Mahatma Gandhi