Neither of these has to see a dentist because of being too stupid to avoid sweets.
A mirror test is supposed to demonstrate self-awareness. Put an animal to sleep, place a dot on her head and, when she wakes up, and show her a mirror. If she looks at her image in the mirror and somehow acknowl-edges the dot, she’s self-aware. If she doesn’t, she is not. Simple, right?
The problem is this is a test of self-awareness as designed by human minds. We can’t escape our own way of thinking. It’s all we’ve got.
The only thing tests like these prove is that the subject is thinking like a human, or is self-aware like a human.
Are we supposed to believe that thinking like a human is the only way to think intelligently? Or that it is the only way to be self-aware? Such ideas are nothing more than human-centric egotism. We’ve built the internet and flown to the moon, but we also commit heinous acts of barbarism against all living beings on the planet (do not try to think of one we overlook; the effort will depress you). This contrast is not a scale which balances ethical depravity against in-tellectual and scientific triumphs.
We must refuse to accept the notion that human intelligence is the ultimate in any intelligence. We are simply the most intelligent humans.
Let us not fall into the trap of requiring human-like behavior from high-functioning predators like alligators and sharks, neither of which have needed to evolve for eons, and both of which are perfectly evolved for their environments.
I am not opposed to mirror tests. I am opposed to using the results of them to justify discrimination, and subsequently violence, against living beings.
To be vegan is to be consistent. We extend our natural feelings of empathy not just to dogs and cats, but to cows, geese, and humans.
Today a neighbor of ours found a stray Dachshund mother wandering in the woods between our neighborhood and a very busy road. He took her home. She was not spayed, had no collar, and shivered with more than a little fear as he brought her food and water. She had recently given birth.
Let us do a little visualizing. This won’t hurt, and it won’t be disgusting. Bear with me.
You are a Dachshund. You are alone, wandering through unknown territory. Your babies are where you left them, whimpering and hungry, still wet from birth, crawling over each other in search of you, their sole sources of warmth, love, and of course life-giving food.
What would drive you to leave? What would have to go through your head that you would leave your freshly born children defenseless in a strange place?
I cannot speak for her, but I imagine it was fear and desperation. Maybe all she wanted was water. Or maybe she hadn’t eaten in days, and now she was going to risk her children’s lives because it was either stay with them, and die of starvation herself, or wander off and risk her children being eaten by a predator.
My heart goes out to her. I really cannot imagine being in desperate, hopeless situation. I work a desk job. Maybe you feel similarly. Maybe you agree. Most people wish her what she deserves: safety, shelter, food, water and a clean place to raise her children.
Now transpose those feelings onto a cow. Why is she any less deserving of our mercy? Why are her children relegated to a few short days, or weeks, of terrible life before being slain for their pale flesh? Surely, the cow and her calves are every bit as scared and sensitive as the Dachshund.
Before I was vegan, reading stories like these evoked sickening feelings of guilt and helplessness. I was only able to console myself with a (false) reminder that eating flesh and drinking non-human milk are necessary for human life. Now I know that vegan diets are healthy – extremely healthy. I know that flesh is not mine to take, nor milk mine to demand from captive, lactating mothers.
The idea of exploiting a Dachshund for some weird, personal pleasure was as repulsive to younger me as it is today. But, back then I ate flesh and drank dairy. I had not made the connection yet. What pleasure, you might wonder, could anyone gain from her? Shudders arise at the mere suggestion.
One day, we will protect and respect all sentient beings. Be consistent. Go vegan.