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On Carnism and our Inconsistent Choices of What Ends Up on our Plate and What Does Not.

By : Inika Harikrishnan

BJP politician and animal rights activist, Maneka Gandhi launched an appeal to ban dog meat trade in Nagaland after receiving photos of the dog market from a local animal rights group. With the support of over 1,25,000 people, the sale and import of dog meat has now been banned in Nagaland. While animal rights groups and ‘animal lovers’ all over the country rejoice, we fail to see how hypocritical and biased we are being.

Yes, it is heartbreaking to see helpless puppies being tortured and skinned, but it is equally cruel to treat a pig, chicken or cow like that. In 2018, we consumed 127 million tonnes of poultry, 121 million tonnes of pig and 72 million tonnes of cattle.

I’m confident that one would not be able to sit through a single youtube video exposing one's beloved meat and dairy industries. So why isn’t there more outrage over the consumption, torture and slaughter of other animals?

The simple answer is emotional prejudice. The consumer just doesn’t care about these animals enough for their unnecessary killing to pull at their heartstrings and stop them from eating their dinner. A person who equates chicken with food and dogs with friends, and bashes those who consume dogs, should be branded a hypocrite and a speciesist. First you have to ask yourself if it is moral to eat a sentient animal that nurtures its young, feels fear, pain, emotional attachment. If you reply that it isn’t, then you cannot say it is alright to eat a cow but not a dog. Both animals share similar emotional responses to humans. The difference for humans socially and emotionally is that dogs are kept as companion animals in most countries and cows and pigs (in most cases) are not.

We have structured our society in a way that makes it possible to have strong

emotional ties to companion animals while at the same time it is possible to assume a pragmatic and indifferent attitude to animals within factory farms. It may be more difficult to take a stand against eating animals than to eat them because it breaks with norms that we have been socialized to accept.

One argument that I wish to tackle here is the claim that cows, pigs and chicken are treated more humanely than dogs are in the meat market. While any consumer may show some knowledge of the injustice, exploitation and suffering in the meat industry, they are able to block out its emotional implications, simply because they don't want to take responsibility for someone they did not see suffering. To meet the great demand for beef, slaughterhouses all over the world skin, cut and let the cows bleed out while they are still alive. Pork, which is quite abundantly available even in India, isn’t produced ethically either. Baby pigs are born with 8 teeth, all of which are forcefully removed along with their tails and genitalia- without anesthesia, because the pigs would rather chew themselves or others to death than live in tight, dirty and painful confinement.

While I believe that the consumption of any living being is equally inhuman, barbaric and wrong, I am not asking you to give up meat. I am simply reminding you that the chicken you eat for dinner, or the bacon you eat for breakfast are no less unethical than cultures and communities that eat dogs. Therefore, as long as you continue to make some species suffer, you cannot advocate for the rights and life of another.

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