Would You Eat a Retarded Dog?

Just over a year ago, I became a vegetarian.  This was quite a shock to my friends and family, since they were accustomed to seeing me wolf down steaks, roast beef sandwiches, and more meat-laden pizzas than I care to admit.  To them, me choosing to become a vegetarian seemed as unlikely as Hugh Hefner choosing to become celibate.

The turning point for me was a conversation with my kids after school one day.  They’d learned about slavery in America, and were appalled that so many people let it happen.  They couldn’t believe that an entire country could be so cruel.  I told them that they were right, and that it’s difficult to understand how a nation could let something so horrific continue for so long.  But I also told them that it’s easy to look back in history and condemn those who allowed cruelty to exist – what’s hard is to see what cruelty happens today that we accept as normal.

The moment I said that, I immediately thought about how we treat animals.  Deep down I’ve always known – as we all do – that factory-farming requires horrible abuse to animals, but I never let the idea take hold because, well, meat just tastes so damn good.  It’s hard to feel sympathy for a cow when a juicy steak is staring at you.

If I had been talking to someone other than my kids, I would’ve ignored this unexpected concern for animals.  But talking with your own children demands a level of honesty that you can’t ignore, and I couldn’t let go of the fact that animal cruelty popped into my head when I thought about what we do today that future generations will condemn.

Over the next few days I researched how factory-farmed meat is produced, and what I found was enough to turn me off meat forever.  I’m not going to be one of those recently-converted vegetarians that tries to shock you with grotesque images of animal abuse, but I will say that there’s so much more to it than how we treat animals.  The reality of how 50 billion animals a year live and die before reaching our tables should make us worry about our own health, regardless of whether we value the lives of those creatures.

For the most part, I’ve kept my vegetarianism to myself (well, until now, anyway).  I don’t expect anyone to cater to my meatless ways when they invite me to a party, nor do I act holier-than-thou when friends eat meat in front of me.  It’s a personal choice for me, not a crusade (and after all, I’ve eaten enough meat in my lifetime to fill several farm yards).  But when close friends ask why I gave up meat, I’m happy to talk about it.  At some point I usually ask why they don’t eat dogs, and they usually respond that it’s because dogs are smarter than the animals they eat.  At which point I ask, "So does that mean you’d eat a retarded dog?," which unfortunately seems to stop the conversation.

PS: If beer and brownies are ever classified as meat, I’m screwed.

21 thoughts on “Would You Eat a Retarded Dog?

  1. I’ve been a vegetarian for 20-odd years and I must say it’s refreshing to hear to hear an American turn veggie! (I’m Irish but I lived there for awhile). I’m the same way – I don’t preach to my friends and I generally take a ‘live and let live’ approach to life.
    It’s a bit extreme but you might like to read “Animal Liberation” published in 1975 by the Australian philosopher, Peter Singer.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Animal_Liberation_(book)

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  2. I merely try to not overindulge. Eating a little meat is almost as good for the animals as eating none, but does not require any drastic dietery changes.

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  3. Sure, I’d probably eat a retarded dog, or a non-retarded one if it was that or starvation; I like dogs too much for non-desperate times. I also doubt dogs taste very good, they’re the kind of lean carnivore that’s mostly gristle.
    But cows and pigs and chickens and ducks and bears and deer and mooses and fish and all the other tasty animals? I don’t have any fond emotional baggage about them. They go in my belly, because I’m a carnivore.
    Technically, I’m a meat-preferring omnivore; primates range from mostly herbivorous like gorillas to mostly carnivorous like humans and chimpanzees. You can feed a chimp on fruit, but in nature he’ll hunt bushbabies and birds and sometimes other chimps. Meat is meat to us primates.
    Is it wrong for a lion to eat a gazelle? If it is, then you should go out and kill all the lions, or try to make them eat tofu, which will kill them. If it is not wrong for a carnivore to kill and eat prey animals, then it’s not wrong for us, either.

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  4. @Ben: Yes, I have considered buying meat from ethical farmers. But given how expensive it is, and how hard it is to find here, it’s easier for me to simply give up meat.

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  5. The way I see it, yes, factory farms are gross. I love meat a whole lot, and make the choice to eat meat that I know is ethically sourced, treated as well as possible, not cage raised, etc. It’s the best I can do.
    I’m lucky that I can find good meat at good prices, from local farms (I live on the Maine-NH border).

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  6. Nice piece, my whole family (hubby, kids and I) are veggie. When people ask why I don’t eat meat I tell them because I don’t need to. It is weird how many people appear to get upset when you tell them you don’t eat meat and make excuses for why they do. I don’t preach, but don’t mind discussing it either. It is good for me, good for the environment and good for the animals. I think history will be interesting to read in 50 years. Great job!

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  7. Another response to the “dogs are smarter than the animals they eat”-argument would be: “So, does this mean you would exploit a retarded slave?” ;)
    Welcome to the non-preaching-veggie-community :)

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  8. Agree with you about factory farms, and also that the alternatives are too expensive for many.
    This is one of the many ways we’ve managed to hide inflation. We measure the price of beef, but the beef of today is not the beef of 60 years ago.
    On slavery, though, you can’t ignore the convenient arrival of oil on the scene. Did we really give it up simply because it was wrong, or because it was unconscionable that we would treat humans like that when we could have machines do it for us instead?

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  9. @Nick
    Weird how many people I’m seeing going the plant-based diet way after I started looking into it. I’ve always ate more veggies than meat, so it’s not much of a stretch for me. Although shaking the sugar (candy, pop) and dairy is another story.
    @Rob
    A plant based diet has everything the human body requires – protein, fiber, vitamins. Remember the food triangle everyone grew up with? It was mostly vegetables and grains – not meat.

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  10. I thought your question about eating a retarded dog is wonderful food for thought (pun intended).
    Question about this, as I have gone vegetarian for some time before switching back while I do sit on the fence–how do you handle the factory farming conditions of chickens (with eggs) or cows (with milk or yogurt)? Asking this as I am wondering to what extent your concerns over factory farming are not leading you to becoming vegan instead of just vegetarian.
    Thank you for sharing this.
    Jeffrey

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  11. @Jeffrey: That’s a good question. It’s inconsistent for me to be so concerned about the treatment of animals, yet continue to eat eggs & dairy. At some point I probably will go vegan, but for now that’s just too big a change for me.

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  12. I’ve been a vegetarian for 29 years. I’ve always wondered what I would do if circumstances were such that the only way to survive was to eat meat (I think The Road ;)): If it’s me or the dog, me wins.
    For me, it’s about the ability to choose: humans (generally) have that choice. I sometimes (when drunlk and pushed) counter the, “but, we are made to eat meat” with “yes, and we are made, as are most animals, to procreate using violence” – we’ve learnt that the alternative is superior (in many ways).
    Anyway, I’m off one again (it’s years since that happened).
    We all have the choice, but some choices are choosier than other [sic].

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  13. What makes you think slavery was cruel? You use a lot of emotional words (cruel, horrific) to describe something you know very little about or you believed some of the lies you taught in school and by the media.
    You need to look at true history. A little common sense about our history and slavery will help you.
    Why did so many slaves stay on with their masters when slavery ended if it was so cruel and horrific? How did the slave masters harvest their crops of the slaves were not taken care of and well feed? There are a lot more common sense questions you should investigate before you talk about something you have no idea about.

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  14. Dude, check out the movie “Food, Inc.” it’s unreal what the meat industry is all about and how money and government play into things so heavily. It’s enough to make you sick. Or, vegetarian. Or, both. ;-)

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  15. To be frank, the wired title of this blog only invited to read it!
    I have been my a vegetarian my whole life and my family too. It’s because of the rules of our cast say we can’t touch meat. I am veggie not only because of that rule, it’s because I thought of saving the cruelty towards animals. So when it comes to cruelty, what about leather shoes, purse, belt etc? They are made from animal hide. The moment I came to know that, I stopped buying leather items! Instead I would go for foam leather or alternatives.
    Regarding cruelty towards animals Food Inc and few documenatries which have under cover video of what they do in farms are worth watching! I recently saw a video in youtube where the chickens are treated like trash. People who had watched the videos had commented similarly that they wouldn’t touch meat!
    Again, people can stop eating meat because there is a greener alternative! Just like the animal planet saying goes…. When buying stops, killing can..

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  16. “Weird how many people I’m seeing going the plant-based diet way after I started looking into it.” <– Agreed! I myself have only stopped eating meat 2-3 weeks ago, and now I stumble over this post by chance.
    I had always been dissatisfied with my own inconsistency – on one hand I thought: "I'd never ever eat a dog or a cat or a horse. I simply couldn't." But in that same instant, I also had to think: "What difference is there between a dog and a cow (or pig or chicken)?" And I couldn't find an answer.
    You must know, I'm a person who HATES inconsistency. As we say in Germany: "If you say A, you gotta say B, too." In the case of eating meat, that means two things:
    1.) If you find it acceptable to eat a cow, you MUST find it acceptable to eat a dog, cat, horse, dolphin, or chimpanzee, too.
    2.) You should only eat things that you would be able to kill yourself – everything else is hypocritical.
    I personally could never, ever kill a cow, no matter how painless and "human" the killing method was. Thus I shouldn't be eating it either. Having scruples to kill a creature on one hand, while buying its dead meat from the supermarket on the other, is totally inconsistent and hypocritical.
    I don't know why it took me so long to understand this. Deep down I've always known (and hated) my inconsistency in this matter. I did not "walk the talk", so to say. I just suppressed these thoughts and avoided thinking them, because meat was so tasty. However, now that I've stopped eating it, I don't miss it at all. And my conscience feels relieved. Now I can look into cows eyes again without those "I think you're cute, but I eat your relatives almost every day" thoughts. ;)

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  17. Just a few days ago saw this video: Melanie Joy Interview, Why We Love Dogs, Eat Pigs, and Wear Cows: An Introduction to Carnism


    Not that it changed me. i love meat and don’t see myself changing any time soon. We oppress things, in this case cruelty to animals, all life long – nothing new here.
    btw: i still have IE6 on my system. had to downgrade from FD 4.0 because is screews up all the feed views… I believe 3.5 also does that, so now using 3.1 and am happy about it for years to come (at least 2 i guess) :)

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