Response to “Since Early Humans Ate Animals, We’re Justified in Continuing to Eat Them Now.”

I hear so many people use the above argument to justify their consumption of animals. Michael Pollen is one of the more famous proponents of this argument. A couple of years ago, Oprah Winfrey’s staff all went vegan for a week under encouragement by Kathy Freston.  For some reason unknown to me, they also had Michael Pollen on this show giving his opinion. As someone who is against veganism, it seems strange that he would be invited, but Michael Pollen has pretty much achieved god-like status amongst the humane meat, food writers, fois gras loving lot. At the end of the show as they were summing up and reflecting on what a wonderful week it had been, Michael Pollen said that becoming vegan is ‘an affront to our mothers’ and that eating ‘happy meat’ (the type that hardly any one can afford and is only sustainable because no one can afford it’ is natural.

Here is a response to this argument deftly argued by CPG.

“With a determination that belies an irrational attachment to animal flesh and fluids, I’ve seen otherwise sensible and sensitive people spend time and energy extolling the human history of eating and domesticating animals. Using lyrical and exalted language, they wax poetic about the virtues of animal husbandry and glorify the prehistoric hunter-gatherer, who anthropologists now assert was more likely a gatherer-hunter. Still, the argument goes something like this: since early humans ate animals, we’re justified in continuing to eat them now.

“Some contemporary food writers even charge vegetarians and vegans with turning their backs on their “evolutionary heritage,” strangely perceiving Darwinian evolution as a moral system by which we should justify our actions. By eschewing meat, they say unabashedly, we’re “sacrificing a part of our identity.” It seems to me that we have the ability and responsibility to make moral and rational decisions – not abdicate our ethics to an amoral process. Surely, our identities are defined by more than our paleontological past. And yet determined to dwell perpetually on this past, these same people even romanticize the life of “cavemen” in order to rationalize our contemporary consumption of animals. Certainly there are lessons to learn from our human predecessors, but do we really want to use Neanderthals or Paleolithic humans as the model for our ethics? Can’t we do better than that?

We often say that we want to do better than we did a generation ago, two generations ago. I presume we want to do better than we did hundreds of thousands of years ago. That’s the point of being human, isn’t it? To learn from our past and make better, more healthful, more compassionate choices once we know better, especially once we have the ability and opportunity to do so?”

C’mon…. Surely your reasons to continue eating animals must be pretty thin on the ground now.

Remember, in order to make a difference in the world, you have to do something different!


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