Products like Jell-O and some kinds of desserts use gelatin for texture. Gelatin is made from pieces of animal corpses. Typically, it is the collagen extracted from bones and skin.
Some people believe it is okay to use gelatin, since the animal was going to be killed for her flesh anyway. That is, they believe it is okay to use product X taken from a non-human animal because she was already scheduled to be killed for product Y.
In other words, since I’m already raping you, I might as well steal your toaster when I’m done. That makes stealing your toaster morally acceptable, doesn’t it?
Of course not. But placing the crime into a human framework, equating the suffering and feelings of Us with the suffering and feelings of Them, will still cause many people (even some vegans) to hesitate.
Logically, it cannot be refuted that stealing a toaster is anything but stealing, regardless of the crimes you commit against the owner (and who owns her tendons and ligaments more than the calf, the pig or the dog?).
When a Snargleplexonian beams down to your kitchen to commit a crime against you, Multiplexing you into tasty pink oblivion, this horrific act is not an act exonerated if he also depletes you of your savings, land, and Iron Maiden posters. Conversely, depleting you of your Iron Maiden posters is not exonerated if he kills you first.
Clearly not trying to impress you with fancy words and references to metal bands, I can sum it up with: Two wrongs do not make a right. Not two Snargleplexonian wrongs against you, and especially not two human wrongs against non-human animals.
If you believe that living beings are worthy of moral consideration, and you do not wish them to suffer, then you must not advocate any demand for their flesh, secretions, fur, behavior (as entertainment), utility (such as pulling your romantic buggies through Cozumel), and so on. You must not consume them as products.
Let’s get real nerdy and illustrate some specific misconceptions with the thought of consuming gelatin (or any other “by”-product from a corpse):
- “Gelatin is different from other products taken from the corpse.” — False. Demanding gelatin places the same death sentence on her as does demanding her muscle tissue.
- “She would be killed anyway.” — False. The human demand for her flesh and milk condemns her. Remove the demand and you will prevent the killing.
- “As long as we’re nice to her first, it’s okay to kill her.” — False. Treating someone nicely and then murdering them does not free you from the crime. This doesn’t make sense with a space alien blasting you to bits. It doesn’t make any more sense when you’re a human being subjugating a helpless little piglet.
- “People are always going to eat meat, so why worry about gelatin?” — False. People are not going to always eat meat any more than people will always own slaves.
- “You pick your battles, like meat and gelatin, but I focus on other things, like donating to charities and helping my mother weed her garden. It all balances out.“ — False. I do not murder people, nor would I ever state that abstaining from murdering humans takes too much time or is too inconvenient. The same is true for non-human animals. Comparing do-goodery with veganism is a mistake. More on this topic here.
Some want to believe that consuming gelatin is a more or less innocent act, but even those sterile, generic-looking little packets of gelatin increase demand. Any demand for a good or service from living beings places monetary value on their lives. This is true for pigs, cows, geese, dogs, cats and even human beings. Here are four examples where the demand for “by-products” body parts has created wholesale slaughter, even when the meat and skins are not eaten:
- Bison tongues: The honorable Sioux slaughtered somewhere between one and two thousand buffalo purely for their tongues. For what? To trade for whiskey.
- Shark fins: Surely you’ve heard of shark fin soup? Well the whole shark is too damn heavy, so people just lift him up, cut the fin off, and toss him back in the water to bleed to death.
- Elephant tusks: Outlawed. Still being hunted. Still being sold as “pre-outlaw” ivory. As long as you buy ivory, people will shoot elephant children and mothers for you.
- Rabbit eyes: Sadly, still attached to the rabbit, eyes are sprayed with toxic chemicals to help people understand human accidentally spray themselves in the face with caustic goods. Really, guys? You can’t find anything else?
I hope these examples give you an idea of how any demand for the body parts of living beings is a very, very bad idea.
And here you thought I was just going to cry my little vegan eyes out while offering no alternatives to gelatin. Hardly! Next time you’re thinking about buying a packet of the stuff, put it down. Get some of this, instead:
- Agar-agar (known by many names, such as kanten). Discussion at SeriousEats or take a look at the Wikipedia entry for Agar-agar
- Pectin – very popular replacement
- Gelatin alternatives for the food industry
- “Jel Dessert:” a vegan and gluten-free gelatin made by Natural Desserts
- Vegan Marshmallows
It’s not acceptable to inflict suffering and death onto animals by consuming them. With the above solutions, you do not need to exploit animals to get gelatin. You can have the foods you enjoy, while not contributing to the mass murder of innocents.
Now for a final comparison as equally disgusting and reprehensible as consuming human or non-human animal corpses. The next time someone asks you why using gelatin isn’t “okay,” ask them: Would it be okay to wear leather coats made from the skin of human prisoners of war? They “were dead anyway,” right?
As an aside, Penny-Arcade calls gelatin what it is.
Related posts: Recycled Speciesism