I watched a video this morning on YouTube: The Birth of a Vegetarian. It was insanely cute and the conversation focuses on young Luis questioning why he needs to eat his octopus legs.
At the end of the video, Luiz becomes a vegetarian. Luiz asks his mother why she is crying? She responds by saying “I am just touched by you…” and then he states; “I’m doing something beautiful.”
Luiz – These animals… you gotta take care of them … and not eat them!
I love this interaction. Why is it so hard for adults to see things clearly? Would you eat Rover or Kitty cat? No. Most of us love our pets as family and treat them accordingly. So why is it so easy to eat a ham sandwich?
Last week I was involved with Project Save a Duck. I walk around a small lake several times a day with my dog. I have observed a family of mallards for several months, watching ten little ducks grow up. To my horror one of the little ones had a plastic ring stuck around her head and in her bill. She could not eat or extend her bill upwards to drink. I tried everything to catch her and spent hours devising a plan of action. On the 4th day she was panicking. As starvation set in she began to portray acts of complete desperation. I contacted a local news station and reached out on social media locally. I had at least 20 people respond and a reporter looking into how to help. Several people saw my plea on the Palm Beach Post and came over to the lake to try to catch her. Residents in my building became very concerned as well.
Finally, on the 5th day I had enough. A friend of mine, Mike Bennett (here is your 15 minutes buddy), brought a casting net to work and we vowed to catch our duck. So Mike and I went to the lake and fast forward had our moment. With a hail mary cast, Mike snagged our little duck in mid-flight and I cut off the plastic ring, (from a Vitamin Water bottle, BTW).
What’s my point? As I made my rounds and thanked everyone for helping I could not stop my thoughts from wondering how many of these same people had duck l’orange for dinner the night before? An exaggeration, but how do we disconnect so easily?
So what was the point in anyone that eats meat trying to save this duck?
Cognitive Dissonance. The feeling of discomfort that arises from holding two conflicting beliefs.
Most people care about animals and would never harm one. Most of us would have a hard time killing a chicken, cleaning it and serving it for dinner. So why is it so easy to grab a chicken in the grocery store?
The simplest way to deal with the conflict: Denial, minimization, passive aggression, isolation, repression and humor. Farm animals are raised to be eaten. They are free-range. They are killed with dignity. Our ancestors ate meat. We need animal protein to live. Animals don’t suffer. Justification.
Soldiers, police, nurses also inhibit similar responses to stress and tension. In order for them to function at their jobs they “shut down” and disassociate from the stimulus causing the emotion.
Everyone helped save the duck because at the time no one was associating the duck with food. The association being made was an empathetic one. People helped because that is what we do when we see an animal in distress. Wow. The mind is an amazing piece of equipment with its ability to manage our emotions from one circumstance to another.
In honor of Luiz and his choice not to harm animals I submit to you.
Try and bridge the gap between the animal you love and the animal you eat.
Allow your mind to process the thought. Have a sincere attempt to enter a query into you brain and weigh it against your own set of morals and values.
Luiz – “So when we eat animals they die? … I don’t like that they die…”