People generally don’t eat their pets in the Western world. I don’t personally know anyone who has eaten their cat or dog or budgie or hamster or goldfish.
OK, maybe that’s because we don’t eat those animals, anyway. You’re not going to find fresh cat meat or dog meat in grocery stores, and I bet just the thought of it makes you feel uncomfortable, even though we all know that people in some countries do eat cats and dogs (and maybe hamsters and goldfish, too).
But the line between pets and meat gets somewhat blurred in Western nations when you talk about animals like pigs, lambs, goats and rabbits, to name just some. They can be pets, or they can be meat. But usually not both, though I’ll talk about farm life a little further on.
A case in Canada recently has a lot of people outraged. It seems a couple in B.C. adopted a three-year-old Vietnamese potbellied pig named Molly from an animal rescue shelter, promised to raise it as a pet, but instead slaughtered it and ate it.
Yes, it seems they might have broken a signed agreement not to eat Molly. But keeping a pet pig was much more work than they expected, apparently, so rather than return it to the shelter, they turned the pet into food for their dinner table.
There won’t be any charges filed against them, reports say, because Molly was slaughtered humanely — even if she wouldn’t have agreed with that analysis — and it is not illegal to eat your pet pig, though I am not sure if that applies to eating your pet cat or dog or bunny rabbit or goldfish as well: according to one source in a report on the whole affair, it is legal to shoot your dog providing it dies instantly, and who’s to know if you ate it? Indeed, people might be eating cats, dogs, hamsters, budgies and goldfish in the West and we just don’t know about it? Or not, eh?
So, why are so many people outraged over the tragic plight of Molly? Are there any ethical questions being asked?
Well, from what I have seen, ethical questions pointing out the apparent hypocrisy of weeping over Molly while shrugging off the slaughter of millions of other animals for food are irrelevant for many people. Molly was not supposed to end up on dinner plates, they say, and the owners broke their promise. Poor Molly. Bad couple. End of story.
Of course, vegetarians and animal rights advocates would argue that no animals should be served for dinner, and Molly’s death was just one of millions of crimes against the animal kingdom.
I suppose many people raised on farms can tell stories of Daisy the cow or some animal that was much loved but that ultimately ended up in their bellies — because they were farm animals destined to be eaten, anyway, after they had served their purposes. The fact that they were loved by their owners was irrelevant, though no doubt, some owners said a prayer before dinner thanking the animals for their sacrifices — as if the animals ever had a choice.
There is no moral to this story, except that mankind has felt it has dominion over the animal kingdom since biblical times and before. Many Christians believe a mythical, supernatural, unseen god gave man the right to take the life of an animal and eat it. . . . But that’s another story.
The fact is, humans eat animals, and they can be pigs about it.
Funny play on words, eh? On one hand, we use the word “pig” as a derogatory term when describing a disgusting human being at times. It speaks for how humans perceive filthy, slobbering pigs in the pig pen. On the other hand, many people smack their lips while chomping on the dead bodies of those slobbering pigs, now called pork — because who says “we’re having pig chops for dinner tonight”? Yes, the word “pork” sanitizes the whole filthy, slobbering pig concept. People don’t think about the pig when they’re eating “pork.”
But Molly — remember Molly? — was a pig loved by some people in an animal rescue shelter and is now mourned by thousands who never knew her — many of those thousands who also never knew the source of the “pork” chops on their dinner plates, incidentally. They’re angry because her owners turned a pet into “pork.”
Again, no moral to this story, because the slaughter of animals will not be stopping any time soon.
Well, OK, here’s a moral: I bet we could all bond with and love the vast majority of the animals that humans eat. So, maybe the tragedy of Molly will make us all think about the unfortunate creatures who are trucked off to the slaughterhouses as if they were spiritless, soulless, dumb zombies incapable of thinking, feeling and loving.
At least, we might think about it for a little while . . . until dinner time?
Top Photo: The late Molly. (Credit: Rasta shelter website.)