By David Hewitt
Cognitive dissonance is one of humanity’s favourite pastimes.
For those not in the know, cognitive dissonance is the slightly sterile term for thinking that doesn’t add up, runs its own logic against itself and seemingly tries to circle a square but never succeeds.
There are more crude terms for these kinds of jumbled up thought processes, aside from cognitive dissonance, but I’ll leave those to your creative imagination.
So, imagine a Ninja pacifist? Or a Catholic atheist? Or how about an “animal lover” that likes to eat baked, fried or roasted animal parts “but only three times a week as I’m watching my weight. Pass the horseradish would you…”
Similarly, many, or so I would hope, would step in, or at least contact the authorities, full of outrage, if they saw a sadist trying to beat a lamb to death with a branch in a meadow on a warm Spring day.
Rewind 24 hours and many of those same outraged people likely took a casual saunter down the meat aisle of their local supermarket, taking in the cellophane wrapped, dismembered legs of dozens of lambs, cooing at how so very cheap the meat is and “well, the fresher the better.”
These things just don’t add up as they are so patently contradictory that they seem more akin to Alice’s Wonderland than reality – but exist in reality they still do, and on a colossal, blood-stained scale.
When it comes to animals and the utterly topsy-turvy logic that most of humanity affords them, the arbitrary nature of anthropocentric cultural conditioning, geography and traditions only serves to amplify and intensify humanity’s ruthless selectiveness. And all to the detriment of at least some of the animals, in every country, in every society, around the planet.
Dependent on where on the Earth you live, and what your ancestors opted to choose or eschew for generations before you, that very likely determines what species of animal you eat, those you don’t, those you pet, those you torment or torture in the name of entertainment or science and those you purr and fuss over and even worship.
22 miles of water separates England from France. Frogs legs in Dover? “Are you joking me mate? That’s horrible.” Frogs legs in Calais? “C’est délicieux!”
Dog or cat for dinner? “Oh, I could never do that – it’s totally barbaric!” shrieks the Western world. Spin the globe though to eastern Asia and “Hey, check out this year’s Yulin Lychee and Dog Meat Festival schedule” is an acceptable conversation starter to many in Guangxi province, China.
If you aren’t familiar with Yulin, it’s a ten day “festival” (bloodbath?) where it’s estimated that between 10,000 to 15,000 dogs are barbarically killed, specifically to be eaten. And for extra horrific fun, the dog’s tails are sometimes used for decoration on the meals.
Horrified? You should be. But so we all should when it comes to all beings that can suffer.
And there are countless variants of that around the world, subject to culture.
In the UK, to choose one of a mountain of examples, a popular post-War comic featured a cow-boy character called Desperate Dan who loved his “cow-pie.” Most of his adventures ended up with him merrily tucking into an oversized meat pie, decorated this time with cow horns. Millions of kids grew up unconsciously having the message reinforced in their minds that certain animals are fit only for consumption and decoration.
Different cultures, different decorations, same crime.
So just who is deciding this “pet the one, eat the other” selectiveness that humankind applies so arrogantly to animals? Who else but humanity of course! The judge, jury and executioner (and the executing bit is seemingly the most favoured part) when it comes to pretty much every life or death decision on the planet.
A cage is a cage and death is death no matter where you point to on a map and no matter what either your ancestors, peers, or particular business interests have to say on the matter.
This is why veganism offers the only effective solution to such selective cultural “norms” and practices so arbitrarily applied by humanity to animals around the globe.
“But we’ve always done it this was” is one of humanity’s most dangerous phrases. So, when one acknowledges the reality that suffering is just that, suffering, be that in regards to a caged dog waiting to be butchered or a caged turkey awaiting the same grisly fate, then one accepts and fully appreciates how veganism is a genuinely crime-free lifestyle.