Number of animals killed in the world by the meat, dairy and egg industries, since you opened this webpage. This does not include the billions of fish and other aquatic animals killed annually.

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What if the Killing Was Painless?

People ask me how I would feel if the cows, chickens, geese, salmon, buffalo, ducks, salamanders, crocodiles, sheep, turkeys, goats, camels and dodo birds were killed painlessly. Would it be okay to eat the animals then?

Pain is irrelevant. There are four strong reasons that taking the life of a sentient being against her will is not justified simply because the method is painless.

First, she is being deprived of her further experiences. I rank this first because there is absolutely no working around it. If someone removes your mother from this world against her will, she will never again experience anything. The timeline is cut and cannot be mended. The presence or absence of pain caused by murder is irrelevant.

Second, killing a nonhuman is the murder of an innocent. This is unjust. The method of murder is irrelevant to result from the crime.

Third, it is a speciesist notion that murdering a chicken is acceptable while doing the same to a human is unacceptable. Modern-day court systems would not permit the murder of red-haired children or black children, because those kinds of appeals are racist, illogical nonsense. Like racism, all defenses of speciesism are faulty, if not absurd.

And forth, it removes her from her family. They absolutely will notice her untimely departure. At the idea of sparing one animal from physical suffering, you create suffering in the members of her family who mourn her. (This point could be argued against by suggesting we engineer single animals with no parents or siblings from test tubes; that we kill all the families and friends together at once; or otherwise engage in sterile yet psychotic behavior. The problem with these ‘solutions’ is obvious: they are speciesist. If these acts were committed against humans, it would be like a scene from a horror movie.)

You already know these answers, of course. Replace the nonhuman in your question with a human. Then, the reasons why we must show compassion are endless.



6 Responses

  1. Cris Melo says:

    There’s absolutely no justification/reason/argument strong enough to explain this fundamental disassociation. Killing animals for food is inhumane, unkind, criminal, selfish, etc. I could go on. If it was done to dogs, we would be appalled, as we are when we see the Chinese. So, right there, it’s the proof of our selective choices. They are *choices* that come from habitual thinking. There’s nothing else beyond that. We justify in our minds by using a million excuses. It still doesn’t change what it really is. I’d rather hear the truth “I’m used to doing it, I like it, and I don’t care how it’s done”. I’d respect that more than the excuses.

  2. Matt says:

    I’m vegan and live in Hawaii. Aloha! I’m interested in your thoughts about feeding our meat-eating domestic animals like dogs and cats. In a perfect vegan world where animals are not eaten by humans, how do we go about feeding our cats and dogs? I’m confused about it and open to suggestions. Would we ever justify killing a cow or chicken for meat to feed our cats and dogs if the cows and chickens were raised in a loving and compassionate way and killed in a painless way?

  3. Lorna says:

    I absolutely agree. I think it is a horrible, immoral practice by the ignorant or noncompassionate. Thank you!

  4. Angela says:

    Yes, yes, yes! Sorry, nothing to add, it’s all there. 🙂

  5. Cathy V says:

    When asked this question, there are three other related points that I make:

    1. We can say “what if” as much as we like, but the fact is… it’s *not* painless, and never will be in a system designed to commodify sentient life (and death) at maximum efficiency.

    2. Whether it’s painless or not (and we’ve established it’s not), killing is the ultimate act of violence.

    3. And what of the executioner who is asked to kill, kill, kill healthy, intelligent, living beings day in, day out? Whether the victim suffers needless physical pain in the process or not, the human beings who are asked to perpetrate this violence kill a piece of themselves with every life they take.

    I haven’t been able to bring myself to watch this video, but I suspect it makes the point. I saw it on Twitter and the tweet was, “I’ve been in many slaughterhouses over the years but this video (no blood & guts) is profoundly sad http://bit.ly/fS6BIU

  6. LiseyDuck says:

    This one reared its ugly head at some point last year when some scientists claimed they were trying to breed animals who didn’t feel pain. I’m sure there are people out there who think this would be a good thing and a reason to keep eating meat, but hopefully they are just taking this perspective without thinking it through. Because the alternative would be pretty crap.

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