“The time will come when men such as I will look upon the murder of animals as they now look on the murder of men.” Leonardo Da Vinci
What would a vegetarian future look like?
When eighteenth-century France decided to free its slaves and grant them fundamental rights long before the British or Americans, philosopher Jeremy Bentham wrote “The day may come when the rest of the animal creation may acquire those rights.”
What could justify such rights?
“Is it the faculty of reason, or perhaps the faculty of discourse? But a full-grown horse or dog is beyond comparison a more rational, as well as a more conversational animal, than an infant.”
“The question is not Can they reason? Or Can they talk? But can they suffer? (Michael Pollan, Omnivore’s Dilemma, p308)
“We consider all men/ women to be created equal not as a matter of fact- some are smarter than others, handsomer, more gifted, whatever- but as a moral idea that everyone’s interests ought to receive equal consideration.”
Therefore, “if possessing a higher degree of intelligence does not entitle a human to use another for his or her own ends, how can it entitle humans to exploit non-humans for the same purpose?”
Michael Pollen explains that it’s obvious that we shouldn’t treat pigs and children the same in every way: “Equal consideration of interests is not the same as equal treatment….children have an interest in being educated, pigs in rooting around in the dirt. But where their interests are the same, the principle of equality demands they receive the same consideration. And the one all-important interest humans share with pigs, as with all sentient creatures, is an interest in avoiding pain” (Omnivore’s Dilemma 308)
“It may be that as a civilization we’re groping toward a higher plane of consciousness. It may be that our moral enlightenment has advanced to the point where the practice of eating animals- like our former practices of keeping slaves or treating women as inferior beings- can now be seen for the barbarity it is, a relic of an ignorant past that very soon will fill us with shame.”
What would a “Vegetarian Planet” look like?