In reply to: We give farmed animals their lives, protect them, and give their lives meaning, for which they should be grateful
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- 1 Context
- 2 Talking Points
- 2.1 We would not bring anyone into existence knowing they would live an abbreviated life full of suffering.
- 2.2 The protections are not for them—they are for us.
- 2.3 The idea that we give their lives meaning is an absurd spin on the meaning of life.
- 2.4 Gratitude is the last thing a farmed animal would feel.
- 3 See Also
- 4 Footnotes
- 5 Meta
This objection to animal rights and veganism maintains that we are doing farmed animals a favor by giving them life and protecting them from natural predators and the elements.
Furthermore, it says they should be grateful that we magnanimously allow them to become food on our plates so that their lives are not meaningless.
We would not bring anyone into existence knowing they would live an abbreviated life full of suffering.
Ask yourself if you would bring someone into the world if you knew they would be separated from you soon after birth and that their life would be full of suffering. We are breeding farmed animals into a life of confinement, crowding, mutilation, cruel treatment, and separation from their families. Then we violently slaughter them after allowing them to live only a small fraction of their natural life spans. This is the tragic fate of virtually all animals who are exploited for meat, dairy, and egg products, even if those products carry a humane label or certification.
The protections are not for them—they are for us.
We shouldn't pretend that the protections we provide for farmed animals are for the benefit of the animals. We protect animals from predators and from the elements because we want to eat them and their secretions ourselves, not because we are concerned for their well-being. It would seem they have more need to be protected from humans than by humans.
The idea that we give their lives meaning is an absurd spin on the meaning of life.
It's not as if the wisdom of Viktor Frankl were illuminating our collective psyche here. The suffering we force these innocent animals to endure cannot be rationalized away by invoking platitudes about the meaning of life.
As Tom Regan says, animals "have a life of their own that is of importance to them, apart from their utility to us. They are not only in the world, they are aware of it and also of what happens to them. And what happens to them matters to them."
Gratitude is the last thing a farmed animal would feel.
Anyone considering the lives of farmed animals objectively, free from the fog of our cultural norms, would not think they should be grateful to us for the miserable existence we force upon them just because we like to eat their flesh and secretions. It's nonsensical to suggest that the oppressed should be grateful to their oppressors.
- Frankl and Winslade, Man’s Search for Meaning. Beacon Press, 2006
- “Archive:Tom Regan Speech at the Royal Institute of Great Britain in 1989.” The Justice for Animals (JFA) Wiki. Accessed August 28, 2019. https://justiceforanimals.org/?curid=267.
This article was originally authored by Greg Fuller and copyedited by Isaac Nickerson. The contents may have been edited since that time by others.