Alright. So I’m gonna want you to bear with me here, because I don’t think you’re gonna necessarily like everything I have to say in my first few paragraphs. Bear with me though, because I’m going somewhere with this that I’m hoping might help a little bit here.
So first I want to start with the desire to refer to the meat industry as a “holocaust” or “genocide.” Genocide is a very strong, very serious term with a lot of emotional, political, and historical baggage. It is so loaded that different people view the term in different ways though there are some underlying similarities between them all. With that in mind, let’s just look at Wikipedia’s opening definiton of the term. “Genocide is the intentional action to systematically eliminate an ethnic, national, racial, or religious group.” The meat industry is none of those things. These animals have no religion or nationality that we are trying to crush and we are not trying to drive these animals to extinction. When people refer to the meat industry as a genocide they’ve suddenly made their positions seem unrealistic to the people they’re trying to persuade and at the same time, they’re cheapening a very serious word. In all seriousness, they are not the victims of genocide, they are a commodity. But, that is not to say that means they’re not victims of mistreatment and that the meat industry does not have its issues.
You have some very real concerns about consuming animals as meat and consuming animal products. Saying that you object to the meat industry because it’s like a “genocide” is being lazy. You need to think about why you object to the meat industry and what about it concerns you. Are you concerned about how the over use of antibiotics are causing medicine resistant bacteria? Are you concerned about the fact that raising beef cattle uses up an alarming amount of resources, from water to land, that could be put to better use? What about over fishing? The inhumane practices of factory farming in general? You need to think long and hard about these things, and trust me when I say it’s not pleasant to do so, and think about why you find them objectionable. By doing so you’ll have a better foundation for the arguments you want to make. Saying “I object to the meat industry because it’s genocide” isn’t going to get you very far with people. Saying “I do not eat meat because I have concerns about X, Y, and Z” will get people to take much more seriously.
If there is one more thing I would say, it is to take it one step further and think about why others might support the meat industry and the various practices in it. As a whole, it creates jobs and drives our economy while at the same time allowing us to afford meat at a crazy cheap price these days. People argue that using antibiotics and growth hormones allow for a consistently better, cheaper final product. Factory farming is an efficient use of both physical space as well as resources. On and on. By understanding other people’s positions, you can more easily talk to them in an open and respectful manner and hopefully they’ll do the same towards you. At the same time, while you’ll more than likely be unable to convince others to give up meat altogether, maybe you can influence them to be a little more thoughtful in their consumption, say for example, reducing the amount of wild fish they eat.
Think about that for a bit. Then let’s look at the pig and the man.
Boiling it down for what a pig can do for our man-made country sounds more of a moot point. In the realm of "What you do defines you," the man wins out - considering the blanket notion they'll live a productive life. A difference lies in the basis of what is valued as productive seeing as it's relative term with human connotations. As in, what's productive to a pig in its community is likely different to us. I get the thought this is splitting hairs, though.
From my perspective, and I cannot stress that enough when I say from my perspective, no amount of hair splitting is going to change the fact the value of a pig and the value of a man are incomparable. Additionally, we need to look at this value in terms of human connotations because humans are the driving factor in animal consumption, it’s humans you’ll be having these conversations with, and ultimately, you’re trying to navigate in a world dominated by man who dictate what is and isn’t socially acceptable.
So with that, let’s look at a pig. A pig is a pig and if you go to the grocery store you can get a pound of pork product for about five or six bucks. That’s raised, slaughtered, shipped, cut, and ready to cook. That’s disgustingly cheap. That’s so cheap that most people won’t second guess whether or not they can afford to eat pork chops that night. That’s so cheap that almost no one appreciates the fact that they’re eating an animal with an intelligence that’s considered to be greater than that of their own pet dog. That’s so cheap that it almost seems to make pork valueless.
Except that pork has immense value. Someone raised it, someone slaughtered it, someone shipped it to the stores, and someone sold it to your neighbor. That is money in the pockets of each of those people so they can go on living their lives, supporting their family, and enjoying this beautiful world of ours. Similarly, that pork is enjoyed not just by your neighbor, but most likely his friends and family, giving them the nutrition they need to go about their lives, enjoying this world and equally giving back to it.
Now let’s look at a man. Compared to a pig, his value is potentially infinite. A pig can only consume and be consumed. However a man can consume and create. He has the capacity to be an artist or a scientist, a philosopher or a community leader, a factory worker or a teacher. That pig, by giving up his life gives sustenance to men. A man though, by living, gives sustenance to all of humanity through culture, knowledge, and compassion.
Think about that for a minute. Now think back to the term “genocide.” A genocide is more than the destruction of a group of people, it is the destruction of their culture, their values, and their potential to make the world a better place in their own ways. Pigs do not have culture, men do. Pigs do have value, but men infinitely more. That said, I don't think it takes any stretch of the imagination to say that even as food, pigs deserve as much humane treatment as possible. It's the least we can do for them, seeing as how they're here to support us.
Now, I want to take you on a bit of a detour here, about something I touched in my earlier response. Namely this sentence . . .
Knowing that to exist is to consume and to consume is to destroy, do you think that you as an individual will eventually find peace both with yourself as well as the world around you by embracing vegan philosophy?
Veganism is a very noble mindset, but it isn’t a complete solution. Just by existing, we change the world around us. If you were to switch to an all vegetable diet and lifestyle, your consumption will still cause harm. Pesticides known as neonicotiniods are suspected to be responsible for the collapse of bee colonies all over the planet. Fertilizer runoff from farmland is one of the main causes of harmful algae blooms. Your use of electronics is a direct cause for the exploitation of cheap labor overseas. If you’re an American, the amount of waste you create on a yearly basis is absolutely mind blowing. On and on I can go, but I don’t mean to depress you. In fact, I want to encourage you. You yourself said . . .
Frankly, a basis with which I'm thinking veganism in general is a bit silly compounded with our current theory of evolution. Which, mind you, I'm fully aware in this context nearly contradicts my comments above if taken at face value.
I do like how you point that idea out of what I'd be going through carrying mental weight. I've sustained the "eat less meat" initiative, witnessed by my grocery receipt, in part a remnant of the "down with the man" mentality against food industry. But, now if I'm out of my normal environment: back home with family, at an event with friends, going out to eat, then I don't limit myself so much, if at all. Of late, my mentality has shifted away from the previous ideal towards enabling myself to eat a proper diet. I've gone back to eating other animal products like eggs and yogurt, and I've drastically increased the amount of fruits and nuts I buy. Funny how it feels like going from one extreme forces me to temper myself to a mid-point between where I was and what I sought to achieve.
What you’re describing here is mindfulness. Your entire original post in fact is about how you’re trying to reconcile how you view the world and how you want to interact with it. Where you are mentally right now is a very important place to be. You’re paying attention to your actions with a desire to not just do less harm, but do more good, not just for the world around you, but yourself as well. Embrace this mentality every time you can. You don’t have to turn your whole world upside down though. Small changes and careful actions can be enough to start making a difference without driving yourself crazy. Me? I’ve cut my beef consumption literally in half and I can’t remember the last time I had a fish dinner. All because of a few articles I read and an evening of introspection.
Even better though, is that you’ll soon find that your mentality really will rub off on other people, as long as you stay positive and respectful. Sometimes just saying “Hey, this factory farming concerns me and here’s why” is enough to not only cause yourself to behave more responsibly, but it’s enough to get others to think about how they’re behaving as well. Today you’re talking about meat consumption. Tomorrow you’ll be talking about protecting biodiversity. Next year, sustainable energy, addressing the very legitimate criticisms of fair trade and God only knows what else. The world is getting smaller every year, with more and more human connections being made on a daily basis. Keep them positive and you’ll be helping to change the world for the better.
Just remember. Slow down a bit. Do your best, but don't become obsessive.