Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Chickens Deserve to be Eaten

But no today (at least until sundown).

At any rate, The Spiked Review of Books has a review of Planet Chicken (review by Mike Hume) where the reviewer suggests that the book is a load of crap. I agree. The book is a PETA-like apologist tract about chickens, which claims that eating them is barbaric, inhumane, etc.

Now, I worked on a farm for a summer, and I can understand if you don't want to eat cows, or even pigs. They are to some degree sentient, interesting creatures. They can make good companions, have distinct personalities, and are cute. Not chickens. As Hume points out, chickens are "cannibalistic balls of faeces and feathers." Seriously. They are awful. Left to their own devices they rip each other to shreds, are mean to those providing food, dirty, noisy, disgusting, and well, just plain mean. For the record, that summer was the beginning of the end of my vegetarianism. I still have difficulty eating red meat, but I enjoy chicken and turkey. I really enjoy it. Which might be somewhat sadistic, but really, we're eating the flesh of another living being, we should be honest with ourselves about it.

At any rate, Hume writes about the difference between animals and humans, and says that "An unsentimental attitude towards farm animals is actually sensible and human. Those who have to work with them for a living have always been the most clear-eyed about these matters – at least until the advent of hobby farmers who give their hens names like ‘Chickpea’."

This reminded me of a piece that I saw in Slate (where else) a few weeks ago. One of their regular contributors (Jon Katz) is a farmer, and he wrote about the difference between naming and numbering farm animals, and how it signified a different philosophy about their worth and use. Basically, those who number their animals will only spend up to the cost of the animal on health care, whereas those who name them will generally spend as much as it takes to heal them. This is not to say that those who have numbered animals don't also have named animals. Katz has a hierarchy of animals from dogs on down to sheep in declining emotional importance.

I agree with Katz's philosophy. Some animals exist for companionship, and some for food. If you conflate the two it becomes impossible to deal humanely with the latter. I think that, in some cases, people extend the life of an animal beyond where it is humane, believing that life is valued above all else. I disagree. I think that in some cases there are things worse than death. I would hate to have a painful, lingering illness, and if I was in a comatose state I'd like to have someone pull the plug. Yeah, I could probably come back from it, but what about that guy, stuck in his shell of a body for years, able to hear but not communicate? That would be my personal hell. I'd rather be dead.

In conclusion: eat chickens, and don't bother feeling guilty about it. G-d told us that we can eat animals, and who are you to be more merciful than G-d?


Liberal Jew said...

I love my dog but he has the cancer and he will be moving on to heaven very soon because all dogs go to heaven. My parents have spent a ton of money keeping him alive and comfortable. Abraham Isaac (he is a Jewish dog, we adopted him and converted him from the Irish Catholic Church – his name was Murphy when we saved him) took my space on the couch when I went to college. He not only stole my seat but took hold of my heart (sappy but true). He is a part of the family, however the time is near when we are going to need to give him the a ride in the car – which he loves – to a place he will not come back from…that is sad.

But we will eat some meat that night to commemorate the fact he loved to lick the plate.

Anonymous said...

I can't believe you guys actually changed his name from Murphy.