Animal Rights - do animals have rights? How should humans treat animals?

How do we decide what is right or wrong when it comes to animals?

As many of you know I am an animal-lover and care passionately about wildlife and conservation but I find I have many questions when it comes to deciding what is right and wrong with regard to human interaction with animal species, and also how I view other humans when I consider their actions.

I see countless examples of hypocrisy when I look at what people say and do when it comes to animals and I have to examine my own stance on these things too because I can be a hypocrite as well. Many people say they love animals and they look after their pets very well but at the same time they see nothing wrong with eating meat or in wearing leather or fur.


Watership Down poster
Watership Down poster

Why are Pets different?

Sometimes it becomes clear that there is some form of preferential treatment being given to some animals over others of the same species. For example, a pet rabbit can be looked after well, whilst at the same time wild rabbits can be killed as pests or for their meat. This is similar for rats and mice - while some people keep domesticated ones as pets, other people are killing them as vermin. Surely a white mouse or rat is actually no better or worse than its wild relatives? They both have the same range of senses and intelligence and presumably have the same sort of thoughts and likes and dislikes in their lives. Same goes for rabbits, or indeed, any mammal species.

The wealthy and elite

If we look at human society we have a rich elite and the pampered celebrities and wealthy people while at the same time we have millions of humans living lives of poverty and suffering. Again, it is the same - the rich people have the same senses, the same range of intelligence and emotional responses as the poverty-stricken, so why do some have very good lives and others not so?

Why is it that some animals are thought of as cute and cuddly and others are not? Is this fair and just? Is this how their divine creator would think? I think not!

If you believe in God or some form of spiritual creator then surely this God didn't make some humans better than others and some animals to be better than others? Surely each spiritual being is made of as much importance in the universe as any other? For this not to be the case would suggest the divine plan for creation was faulty, yet how can this be?

When I look at living things I am reminded of William Blake when he wrote "For everything that lives is holy." I would agree with this, so why are so many people and animals holier than others?

If you are a farmer it is easy to argue that wild rabbits damage land and crops, and so they do but is that their fault? No, they are just doing what they were designed to do. They are simply following their survival programme.

Watership Down

Watership Down by Richard Adams tells the tale of rabbits and how the threat of death is always there. There is the term "breed like rabbits" but we humans do a good job of breeding too and now questions are asked about whether the world is overpopulated. I have heard that it is not, and I believe that to be the case but it is in urgent need of restructuring.

I like to think that I love insects, and indeed I do, but when I am trying to grow plants I am faced with a big problem - many insects eat plants and may kill mine, so what am I to do? I will not use harmful pesticides but I admit I often resort to squashing aphids, meally bugs and scale insects. At present the insect pests are winning against my efforts here and I can see clearly why most people and farmers think nothing of using poisonous pesticides but I am not going to.

I also will kill mosquitoes that seek to suck my blood. I regard this as defence. I don't like killing anything though.

Watership Down trailer

Jains and their religion

I suppose the Jains are the closest anyone has ever got to working out a system that aims to not claim the lives of other living beings but their way is so difficult and so extreme and I would say impossible for the majority of people living as we do at present. The Jains sweep the ground ahead of them in an effort to brush away any small creatures like ants that might be where they will be treading.

I understand that they also do not believe in ending a life even if it is in extreme pain so they do not allow any form of euthanasia believing that every living thing must live out its allotted lifespan for karmic reasons.

The problem with not wishing to take the life of any other living thing because it is spiritual or holy is for me an unsolved mystery. There are millions of minute lifeforms that are harmful. There are all the bacteria and protozoans, microscopic creatures that cannot be seen with the naked eye. Is it right or wrong to kill these? When they pose a threat to health it seems only right in defence to kill enemy organisms.

Is wearing leather wrong?

As I have mentioned the same holds for tiny insects that are a pest of plants but at the same time I can see that the complexity and magic of their design is no less than that of bigger animals including humans!

I aim to not eat meat and refrain from animal products as much as possible but this is very difficult at times. Again there are moral questions to be asked: eg I don't choose to buy or wear leather but I have leather jackets my son gave me as gifts. To have rejected his gifts would have caused him to be unhappy so it presented a no-win situation.

I have also bought leather boots or shoes in the past because I knew that the other alternatives simply would not stand up to inhospitable weather conditions. Sometimes even leather rots - my Dr Martens boots had holes in the leather after three days of sodden conditions at Glastonbury Festival once, and they are supposed to stand up to all sorts of abuse.

I have a leather belt at present, not because I wanted one but because my old belt broke and I had to get something to hold my trousers up. All the shops I looked in only had leather ones.

Sometimes when in need of food I have eaten meat too because I would prefer to feed my body than harm it by starving it because there is no vegetable food on offer. This has happened to me because I live in a predominantly carnivorous human society where the majority eat meat. It is a long way from my ideal but I have no easy option for living in a vegetarian culture short of joining some religious order like the Hare Krishnas.

I remember eating some curry at a party having been told there was no meat in it only to find that there was. I was talking to a friend at the same event who also was a vegetarian but had been given the curry with meat in it. We concluded that because we did not intend to eat meat on a karmic level we were not guilty of eating it. Throwing it away would have been worse.

Countless animal lovers and animal rights activists proudly proclaim that they are vegetarian or better still, vegans, and these people, and I agree with them, protest about the horrors of factory farming, but at the same time feed their cats and dogs with meat products that have come from the same slaughterhouses and factory farms. Of course it is right to feed our companion animals with what they are designed to eat but how can we stop the meat industry if we are buying its products for our pets?

Neutering cats and dogs

Then there is the matter of neutering cats and dogs, which most animal welfare people would advise is a good thing to do. Faced with the millions of unwanted animals condemned to lives of suffering and early death I would have to agree it is preferable to stop even more being born but it doesn't seem at all right or natural. And if I consider the same principle applied to humans it is wrong.

So it is is one law for humans and another for animals including the species said to be our best friends. When forced sterilisation of humans has been done or advocated the people doing this are thought of as monsters and fascists but what is the difference really? Why is it OK to castrate a dog or cat but not OK to do so to a man?

I sometimes conclude that in an ideal world, which we are so very very far from attaining, people would not have pets at all and all animals would live as wild ones. In such a system we would not have to consider the rights or wrongs of neutering anaimls to prevent a population explosion, nor would we have to consider whether it is wrong or right to feed animals with meat from the farming industry.


But this brings me to the subject of culling, something else which causes very strong feelings among people who love animals and myself included. There are people who play God by claiming they have the right to kill large numbers of a given species of animal because its population is too big. But who can say what the right numbers are or who can or cannot appoint themselves as the executioners of those condemned to die?

It is said, and there is much evidence to support this, that there are humans from the elite, who propose the same culling of the human "herd." This is a conspiracy theory with much evidence to back it up and many people believe it is in progress now.

Where would all the animals and people live in an ideal world? I do not know but I do know that even when I consider animals in cages I feel that it is wrong. I hate seeing birds in cages in pet shops or in houses. I would like to see them all free to fly and live as they should. I would like to see homes for all the unwanted pets. I would like to see homes for all the unwanted people!

© 2009 Steve Andrews

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Comments 57 comments

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TheSandman 7 years ago

It is a dilemma and struggle with the conscience and all forms of morality, and I think the answers are not always clear and the ones we have are not always easy. We could begin with the fact that biologically humans are not meant to be carnivorous, aur colons are too long and it takes to long to digest red meat in particular properly. And there are many ways of getting the protein we need and also ways of staying warm that does not include leather or fur. I am a died in the wool, pardon the expression, animal lover and activist. But at times I find that the best solution is that of my mothers ancestors, the Native American. Take only what you need for survival and give thanks to the buffalo, or what ever for what it has given you, and have full appreciation for what The great Spirits or God has given you. And take no life for granted.

Feline Prophet profile image

Feline Prophet 7 years ago from India

Very thought provoking! You've highlighted a dilemma that really has no right answers. I guess we each must act according to the dictates of our conscience.

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Bard of Ely 7 years ago from Lisbon, Portugal Author

Thanks for your comments, TheSandman and Feline Prophet!

Sandman, I agree with the Native American view but in society such as it is structured most people are disconnected from living according to these ways anyway - meat and other products are packaged and processed for us and we are cut off from their sources. I am sure many people do not even think about the animals whose lives ended to provide the food they are tucking into let alone giving thanks to them.

Feline Prophet, I agree with you too - all we can do is what feels right to our individual consciences. The problem I see is that many people do not appear to think about these matters or they do a strange form of denial whereby one thing is food but another is a beloved pet, one animal is cute and cuddly and another is vermin to be killed!

Alex Caldon 7 years ago

Many questions. As an almost vegan myself I asked the same ones and concluded that the right option was vegan, or at least veggie. I think that conlcusion is fairly clear, but the problem is that very often people don't accept an ethical truth even when it is freely available to them. Often people just don't give a shit. Sadly. (They are not receptive to truth...holy grail....etc etc ! :) )

As for population, the world human population is known to be growing unsustainably. If we dont choose the option of better birth control, we will be getting population control by starvation. That will happen if things dont improve, but what frightens me is how little attention is being paid to this urgent issue.

And I guess the culling of animals is effectively a way of introducing early death, which is going to happen via starvation if an animal population is left unchecked.

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Lady Guinevere 7 years ago from West By God

Wow, Bard, we do have alot in common. Now being in the woods and have seen many cats here and then also reading about the over poulation a d such I was an avid Spay/neuter person. After observing the ratio and the life of those outdoor cats, I am beginning to have a different view. Not only to my pocketbook, but of the species in general. I have also witnessed other animals in my area and how they go about feeding and feeding on what I am giving the outdoor cats that I have been feeding. I observe many things in the last 4 years in the animal kingdom here. I was told that I could give the cats those shots that would prevent that upper respratory virus that spreads like wildfire here. It cost alot of money for me to do this. Fleas and Ear mites are another problem or so that vets tell me and that I should get that fixed as well. I am only one person and they make me feel guilty because I do not get these things done for them. Then it dawned on me the other day....those things are Mother Nature's way of controlling the populus of a species. Yes I love them dearly, but if making their immune system less active with these "fixes and preventatives" am I really helping them or hindering them.

I have heard of the Human Herd and the culling of such and that brings a bad taste in my mouth. Who knows just all what people and societies do to us humans and animals alike that we don't know about...

I don't think we are hypocrits, if we don't know the whole story behind life.

For your gardens, try netting---not the netting for vegetable gardens but the netting you find in Fabric Stores! Serioulsy take a look at All My Gardens 2009 hub and see how I use the netting. I haven't had any worms, harmful insects or weeds (that weren't in the soil before) get on my plants.

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Bard of Ely 7 years ago from Lisbon, Portugal Author

Thanks for your replies, Alex and Lady Guinevere! Some of those in favour of human culling and thought to be already behind what is going on in that line have already been involved in culling animals by hunting. Prince Philip comes to mind and see my other hub:

Lady Guinevere, with a healthy distrust in the mediacl industry for humans I extend that to the veterinary practice for animals where again its practitioners are paid large sums for drugging animals and in many cases mutilating them as with declawing cats or simply killing them. How any of these vets can say they love animals and carry on these practices I do not know. Are they motivated by money? Seems so! Why are drugs and vaccines for animals any better than those for humans? I doubt if they are. If they put mercury and other crap in our vaccines what do they put in animal ones?

This guilt trip you mention that they lay on you is like what doctors and dentists do - they try to make you feel in the wrong or certainly some I have encountered have done that!

Lady Guinevere, I only have a balcony and it gets insect pests by air and brought there by ants and even from clippings thrown over from apartments above that happen to fall in mine. Some of the creatures like red spider mite can get through netting. I have friends here with a farm and they have done all they can to not use pesticides and to grow organically and they have had plants destroyed by pests. The problem is a massive one here and most farmers and gardeners use pesticides and herbicides. There are a lot of Dragon Trees dying or dead due to scale insect attacks. Part of the problem I believe is that natural predators have been killed by the pesticicides so the aphids, white fly, scale insects and mealy bugs have nothing much to keep their numbers down.

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Lady Guinevere 7 years ago from West By God

I am sorry to hear that about your plants. It wouldn't do any good to get Praying Mantis 's or Lady Bugs there would it? They would all fly away or be killed by the pesticides. Maybe you could get something going with educting the public about what pesticides really do to the enviroment around you and the beneficial insects that it also kills. This is what frustrates me about the wolrd....instead of learning what is natural and using nature to help, they make chemicals and wipe it all out---good and bad. Then they wonder why we have these crop extreme weather conditions in parts of the world. They can't seem to put two and two together.

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Aya Katz 7 years ago from The Ozarks

Bard of Ely, you ask some very good questions.

The short answer is that every form of love is a matter of preference. This means, that every person (human or non-human) has a list of priorities, those he would serve, those he would spare, and those for whom he does not expend any resources -- even those he would prey on to sustain the lives of those he cares for.

A tiger has his preferences. A mosquito has another set of preferences. So does a human -- and no two humans have the exact same set.

We love our children more than we love the neighbors' children. It's only right that we should, and the neighbors feel the same about their children. We love our dogs more than we love the neighbors' dogs -- and it's right that we should, as otherwise we would be coveting something that isn't ours.

We take good care of those for whom we have undertaken to care -- and sometimes, in order to feed our children or our dogs -- we kill other animals that we have no such feelings for.

This is how nature made us. There is no cause for shame. The tiger need not be ashamed, either. It is the circle of life.

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eovery 7 years ago from MIddle of the Boondocks of Iowa

I thing too many people forget to look at nature and see the reason for things. As in the lion king, it is an eternal round. Everything has to be born and everything will die, one way or another. Nature feeds off from itself. Is nature bad?

I was raised on a cattle ranch in Wyoming. If we didn't raise the cattle, the cattle would never have been born and existed. Yes they are beef cattle, and were raised fatten and slaughtered for the meat. Leather just happens to be an after product.

I feel as if everything is done in a humane fashion, and not torture I am alright with it. I love a good steak. These animals have it better than nature itself can provide for them. This is their purpose in life. So I do not see anything wrong.

My biggest gripe is that city people need to get out of the city once in a while and learn where their food comes from.

If coyotes get into a herd of sheep and kill the a few sheep, the ranchers go after the coyotes. I seen sheep walking around with half of their rear-end eaten away. I have no problem killing the coyote.

Most of these operations are done in a more humane manner than nature does it. Is nature wrong?

Paper Moon profile image

Paper Moon 7 years ago from In the clouds

I have used soap water and garlic water to spray on plants for vermin. Also planting garlic and marigoldswith tomatoes helps keep many of the main pests away. Squirrels are my main problem. A group of hoodlums moved in and chew through everything not made of metal.

As for culling the human herd, it seems to be a profitable venture for them.

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Andrew Hawkley 7 years ago

Did you castrate and dehorn and overfeed "your" cows eovery?

But then a chief characteristic of evil is that it believes itself to be completely innocent.

Anyway thanks to indoor hydroponics and possibly vertical farming we shan't be needing people like you anymore

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C.S.Alexis 7 years ago from NW Indiana

Your hub covers all the things that humans do from rich to poor and I hate to think it but I feel it is true...The real problems are the humans. We can not go backward, forward is questionable and staying the same will not work either. I agree in general with all of your feelings. I am guilty of as much of it as the next.

I put my faith in our maker and yes I eat steak. All I can know to do is what I feel is right in my own heart. I believe the Earth will cleanse itself one day, not that I am a doomsday freak or anything. I did not personally set everything out of proportion, I hate killing bugs and mice, try not to use pesticides but hamburgers are one of my comfort foods. It makes me sad to think of all that you have brought forth here but it is what it is. I wish I had all the answers.

This is a very well written hub, thought provoking and painful. God forgive us all.

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Bard of Ely 7 years ago from Lisbon, Portugal Author

Thank you for all your feedback, Lady Guinevere, eovery, Paper Moon, Andrew and C.S. Alexis.

Lady Guinevere, there are several species of mantis native to the island and they have very little effect. There are several species of ladybird but they are not very common any more.

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Shalini Kagal 7 years ago from India

What a thought-provoking hub! Could it be that we are in this dilemma simply because we have upset Nature's delicate balance? Maybe we would never have had to contend with overpopulation of certain species of we hadn't killed off the ones that fed off them. Every other species except man takes only what it needs - we are insatiable! If there had been enough snakes, the rats would not swarm the sewers of the cities. If we had enough wild cats out roaminf free instead of in cahes, we would not be thinking about culling. And if our pollution levels hadn't been so bad, maybe the pests in the garden would have been kept in control thanks to other animals and birds too.

Humans have a lot to answer for :(

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Bard of Ely 7 years ago from Lisbon, Portugal Author

Thank you too, Shalini! I agree with your conclusions.

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blondepoet 7 years ago from australia

Very interesting hub to ponder on. I just adore animals and it nearly kills me to see any kind of cruelty inflicted upon them.

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Bard of Ely 7 years ago from Lisbon, Portugal Author

Thanks for your posts sciencewithme and Blonde Poet!

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eovery 7 years ago from MIddle of the Boondocks of Iowa

In your hydroponics, and vertical farming, make sure you do not hurt any insects, bugs, bacteria or any other living organism. Oh yeah and especially don't hurt the plants! That is evil!

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Bard of Ely 7 years ago from Lisbon, Portugal Author

Eovery, thanks for your response for Andrew!

I can see a huge difference in the organisms you have listed and cows, which Andrew is talking about that as mammals have a range of senses similar to our own. The main argument about modern farming is that the animals in it are not treated in a "humane" fashion at all but are treated as products with no feelings. The reverse is the case - mammals see, smell, feel, hear and can remember, think etc and humans subject them to torture to become a lump of meat that is packaged and processed and sold.The same goes for what is done to poultry. I see it as very wrong.

Animal farming is destroying the environment fast and in a wasteful way. Forests and the ecosystem communities they support are destroyed to make way for cattle farming. You can grow a lot more vegetable food on a plot of land that is needed to feed one animal.

We will have to agree to disagree on what is right and wrong regarding animal treatment.

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Bard of Ely 7 years ago from Lisbon, Portugal Author

Thank you for your comments.

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Andrew Hawkley 7 years ago

It is all indoors so insects have little chance of getting in. Um... animals eat plants so you have to kill plants to get meat. In fact you have to kill many times the numbers of plants in order to get the same level of energy out of meat as you would if you ate the plants directly. Conservative estimates are X8.

I am only an eighth as evil as you if that.

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Lady Guinevere 7 years ago from West By God

Roaches get into the smallest places and so do ants and termites and a whole host of other bugs. I wouldn't be so sure that there aren't bugs in everything and everywhere.....and we need them.

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Lady Guinevere 7 years ago from West By God

A good movie to see is The Medicine Man. with Sean Connery in it. Here is a clip of the movie:

eovery profile image

eovery 7 years ago from MIddle of the Boondocks of Iowa

I love to hear about better ways of farming and raising food. Especially when it is a profitable and healthy way to do it. I am all for it.

I usually do not say much on comments, but there are several things that I have seen, and I do not want it to come across arguementive, but in a suggestive and learning manner. I am not the best writer, so I have trouble presenting it that way, sometimes. So here are a few more points to think over.

Many of the areas where livestock grow will not support farming. If it did, the ranchers would be farming because it would be profitable. So that argument does not satisfy the need.

Also, meat has fed and kept billions of people from starving. Eating meat started with the existance of man. Also, for christians, Christ ate meat. And to be told that this is evil. I refuse to believe it.

And it was totally ignored how I showed that all of this is done much more merciful than nature itself, for all the naturalist out there.

It is okay to castrate dog and cats, but not cattle?

De-horning is bad, when after I have seen other cattle hurt by the horns. Ever seen a cow with a hole in its side from being horned by an other? And this is on a part of the body,the horn, that has no nerves and feeling. Like cutting a fingernail.

Over feeding cattle...can't be done. When a cattle gets enough food and becomes satisfied, puts on a few pounds they because satisfied and start licking themselves as a cat does. A happy cow is a cow with some fat on them.

Forests are not being destroyed in the area I used to live. The only parts of the forest being destroyed is by people who want to put in roads everywhere and cabins. Man is hurting them not the ranchers.

The cattle feeding in the forest lands actual improve the forest and the wild life. Elk, moose and deer population increased significantly once cattle entered their feeding grounds because cattle eat the tall grasses, while the elk and deer can only eat the fresh short grasses near to the ground. Elk and deer can starve to death standing in a field of grass up to their stomach, their digestive system cannot process the stemy grass. A speech about this was given my brother when he was the President of the Farm Bureau of Wyoming, to many Sierra Club members, and afterwards the Sierra Club members thank him, and said, after knowing this, they were in full support of opening up the forest and BLM grounds to cattle grazing.

Farmers are actually demolishing most of the forests, not cattle ranching. The rain forest, as well as others forest, are being destroyed by farmers to grow ethanol producing grains. Ranchers love forests, and would never want to harm them. The forest gives to much to the ranchers, and would be detremental to the ranchers if they were harmed and destroyed.

I hope someone can learn from these experiences and thought I have provided. I know may will disagree, but we agree to disagree.

Keep on hubbing.

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Lady Guinevere 7 years ago from West By God

I learned from your material. It does go both ways though. In the movie, if anyone watched it, it is very apparent who, what, how and why we are destrying our very selves by what we are doing.

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Bard of Ely 7 years ago from Lisbon, Portugal Author

Eovery, I am well aware that there are parts of the world in the arctic where meat and fish was the only source of food for most of the year. The point is that in most parts of the world this is not the case and it is possible to produce much more plant-based food per acre than it is to produce meat, unless you resort to factory farming, which is clearly very cruel to animals and birds.

In the Amazon a large proportion of the jungle is destroyed to create pastureland for cattle grazing and I quote:

"DEFORESTATION IN BRAZIL: 60-70 percent of deforestation in the Amazon results from cattle ranches while the rest mostly results from small-scale subsistence agriculture." from *one of many sites that provide such information.)

Regarding castrating dogs and cats, in my hub I have mentioned this. I do not think this is good but what other alternative is there in a world where a vast majority of these animals are unwanted and have very short lives? What comes over to me very clearly is that the world is severely out of balance due to very bad management by people and it is deliberately kept this way for purposes of control and for making money! In a natural environment minus any interaction or presence of people all anaimls and plants are in proportions the area can sustain - there are not too many of anything. That we have discussions about there being too many people, or too many cats and dogs, too many insect pests, or even too many rabbits or rats, is always due to what people have done. This shows that instead of caring for the planet and its animals and plants humans have badly mismanaged it!

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Jerilee Wei 7 years ago from United States

You raise some interesting and profound topics to think on, which I will be doing for some time thanks to this hub!

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Bard of Ely 7 years ago from Lisbon, Portugal Author

Thank you, Jerilee!

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Lady Guinevere 7 years ago from West By God

I just sent you PM.

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Aya Katz 7 years ago from The Ozarks

Andrew Hawkley, when you claim to be only one eighth as evil as a meat eater, you accept that living itself is evil. But it is not evil to live, and it is not evil to enjoy life. We are omnivores. We have canine teeth for a reason. A wolf is not evil for being a wolf. A man is not evil for being a man. There is not one iota of evil in doing what is necessary to sustain us.

I say this in full awareness that it takes more acreage to raise meat than vegetable matter. We need to limit our population, so that use of the land can be possible. Trying to be too efficient with our land use is what got us into this concrete jungle in the first place.

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Bard of Ely 7 years ago from Lisbon, Portugal Author

Aya, we do not have to eat meat - it is a choice we can make and I feel that is an important part of the matter! The animals that eat meat do not have any such choice or reasoning - they simply eat what they were designed for and yes, there is no evil in that. But I see very great evil in the ways that animals are farmed, hunted and slaughtered - we are talking extreme suffering in all cases. None of it necessary if people chose not to want animals and animal produce as foods. People choose to support this or not to. People choose to eat meat and dairy from factory farms - they do not have to eat or buy this!

I disagree that we need to limit our population. We need to rework the entire world system so that people have access to food and water. I am sure the world can produce more than enough food for all the people on it. 'Western' societies waste vast amounts of food constantly. The way it is run is clearly unjust and insane. The crowding of people into cities is by design anyway - the elite want us living like that because it is far easier to control people living in large numbers in cities rather than spread out all over the land. They want the land for themselves. The wealthy elite families own massive estates. You do not find these people crammed into boxes in cities.

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Aya Katz 7 years ago from The Ozarks

Bard of Ely, there are many people in rural areas who are not crammed into small boxes, either. I live out in the country, on a ten acre hobby farm, but many of my neighbors are real farmers, and they have many more acres than that. I just bought four chicks to raise as free ranging laying hens, but many of my neighbors have forty hens or more.

Some of my neigbors are beekeepers. Some grow crops. Some raise cattle. These are not factory farms. We see the cattle grazing all around us.

I understand that this lifestyle is not for everyone. But -- when you are trying to better the world -- first do no harm. Even if you think it in the privacy of your mind, please don't wish these farms not to exist.

Do you know what would happen to the cattle if keeping beef for meat were outlawed? Do you know what would happen to the farmers?

Many of us admire the native Americans who used to live on this land. They did not keep herds of cattle, but they did hunt deer and elk and bison -- in moderation, and without destroying the herds they preyed on.

Their way was better than the way of the farmer, but the way you suggest would be far worse, because it would ensure that all of us had to live in cities. The more fields of grain there are, the fewer acres for grazing animals -- wild or kept.

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Bard of Ely 7 years ago from Lisbon, Portugal Author

Aya, you and Eovery are both choosing to ignore the vast numbers of factory farms that farm pigs, chickens and what about veal calves - that is another face of evil! I think it is much better that farms exist like what you are talking about where animals can graze and hens can run about but sadly in many places these days are over! What about fur farms? What about force fed ducks and geese for foie gras? This is extreme animal cruelty! What about horse slaughter? What about pig factory farms? What about factory farms for cows?

These animals are denied basic enjoyments of life!

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Andrew Hawkley 7 years ago

Aya Katz, obviously there was some sarcasm in my writing. But tell you what, if I ever see you being set upon by wild animals I'll just walk on by and let nature takes its course. I'm sure that's the way you'd want it.

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Aya Katz 7 years ago from The Ozarks

Andrew Hawkley, I don't look to you for any succor. All I ask is that you stay off my property and out of my pocketbook.

Bard of Ely, you mention extreme cruelty to animals. Do I support that? No. But that wasn't the gist of what you were saying, was it? If it was, maybe we could agree. Force feeding ducks is not a practice I support . But it seemed, in some of your comments at least, that you were saying that it's cruel to eat meat period and human beings should stop doing that. That's a completely different issue. In some senses, it's cruel NOT to eat meat.

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someonewhoknows 7 years ago from south and west of canada,north of ohio

We would all be better off ,if we realised that,what we see as higher forms of life,that feed on the that which we percieve as lower forms of life is really just an illusion.

Plant's are often seen as lower forms of life,yet we would all be worse off for the lack of nutrients only they can provide us as higher forms of life,We would die for the lack of this vitamin in our diet.

Meat eaters rely on the very same plant life as plant eaters do,so the fact that,meat eaters don't eat plant life directly,is a mute point.although meat eaters sometimes eat certain plants for medicinal purposes,such as upset stomach ,and other illness.

As for leather subsitutes,some plant materials,such as hemp used for rope,can be mixed with certain resins,to create waterproof,and durable material that is leather like in wearability.I've seen some very convincing leather looking coats,made with no animal skins.

Although we may not think of plants,and Insects generally as harmfuI, there are some very harmful plants,and Insects.In fact they can be just as harmful ,if not more so than any animal can be.Not only to other plants ,but to animals as well.For example;there are vines that will choke out all other plants trying to compete ,for the same piece of ground,sun,and water,as they need.So in that respect,they are just as conpetitive as any animal for food and water.In fact,in hot climates,there are plants that,entice Insects with foul or sweet smelling necter, trapping and digesting them for their nutrients Then there is the praying mantis which looks like a plant,which of course it is not,using this disguise to trap and eat other insects.cannibilism among Insects?

Nature has an answer,for everything,overpopulation brings stravation.Yet the more intelligent species ,know if there is enough food,and don't breed when food is low.Are we as intelligent as they are or not? Am I 'beeing' (pun intended )a little too harsh ,or is it just instinct telling these animals when environmental factors are right for breeding,instead of intelligence? I would like to think we are at least as smart as any other animal is !


"The cattle feeding in the forest lands actual improve the forest and the wild life. Elk, moose and deer population increased significantly once cattle entered their feeding grounds because cattle eat the tall grasses, while the elk and deer can only eat the fresh short grasses near to the ground. Elk and deer can starve to death standing in a field of grass up to their stomach, their digestive system cannot process the stemy grass. "

(The problem with letting cattle graise with elk ,deer and bison is disease transmission to the cattle)


"Farmers are actually demolishing most of the forests, not cattle ranching. The rain forest, as well as others forest, are being destroyed by farmers to grow ethanol producing grains. Ranchers love forests, and would never want to harm them. The forest gives to much to the ranchers, and would be detremental to the ranchers if they were harmed and destroyed."

(In South America the rain forest is being destroyed to grow grass for cattle.the problem there is ,they keep cutting forests to grow more grass.)


We can produce ethanol from woody plants,that grow quickly,as well as grasses,and wood byproducts from industrial production waste.

There is a misconception concerning using corn in the production of ethanol as well.It is a value added process,where the byproduct of producing ethanol,is a high protien animal feed.

There is also a misconception concerning the amount of energy needed to produce ethanol,by the oil companies.enzymes and pressure cooking cut the cost down considerably.It is cost effective.

Rockafella convinced a women's christian temperance church movement to convince congress to outlaw the production of alcohol for any purpose in the 19oo's. Ethanol was competing with gasoiline as a fuel for automobiles at the time,and Rockafella wanted to kill the competition.So for the next thirteen years,we had prohibition,and Rockafella's Standard oil company took over as the fuel for automobiles from then on.

P.S. As a side issue ,the city of Chicago was a place of much corruption in government,tied to the selling of alcohol which ,led to the FBI being praised for taking down the famous criminal Al capone,by charging him with tax evasion,for not paying income tax on illegal income from the selling of alcohol . Irony of all ironies,he is one of the reason's we fear going to prison for not paying income taxes,while Rockafella makes money selling a legal substance that is poisoning our air,and water,and helping destroy our environment and gets away with it without so much as a wimper from us,or the government!

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Bard of Ely 7 years ago from Lisbon, Portugal Author

Aya, I cannot see how not eating meat is cruel! The Kogi people - see my hub - - who are possibly the best example of living in total accord with nature are strictly vegetarian so how do you explain that? How do you explain all the totally healthy vegetarians and vegans? How have these people been cruel to themselves?

Aya, I am saying that a vast majority of the meat eaten has been produced by cruelty! The Wikipedia link I posted confirms this with the numbers of factory farms. I would say it is more than cruel to kill something but if an animal has had some quality of life on an old-fashioned farm then to that degree it is better.

Someonewhoknows, thanks for your detailed feedback, which I appreciate!

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Aya Katz 7 years ago from The Ozarks

Bard of Ely, chimpanzees, our very nearest relatives, hunt small monkeys for meat, when they can get them. They go out of their way to hunt, even though they could get all their fat from nuts. Most hunter gatherers, who are those humans who are more nearly at peace with nature, eat both meat and vegetable matter.Vegetable matter helps them fill up when nothing better is available and is an important contribution to their diet in many ways -- but hunting is a highly respected part of their way of life. Hunters get prestige, and meat is prized.

I am just suggesting that we not force a way of life on people that is unnatural. It is okay for some people to be vegetarians, just as it is okay for some people to lead lives of celibacy and self-denial. It's a matter of personal choice. But to pass judgment on people who eat meat as somehow inferior morally to yourself is not so different from a celibate person passing judgment on all those who have active sex lives. To each their own. Let's not add to the hatred in the world by insisting that others make the same choices as we do in departing from the natural way of life.

When vegetarians visit my home, I try to provide them with vegetable matter to eat, and I do not judge them for not eating meat. But if I sense that they are judging me, then they fall in my esteem.

If the vast majority of meat is raised under inhumane conditions, it is because the vast majority of people choose to live in crowded cities where they can't raise or hunt their own meat. We need to reduce the human overcrowding problem, and then the cruelty to animals will subside.

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Bard of Ely 7 years ago from Lisbon, Portugal Author

"We need to reduce the human overcrowding problem, and then the cruelty to animals will subside." How do you propose this should be done?

Yes, some types of chimp hunt but not all! Yes, I agree they do not need to do this so if anything they are acting like humans or humans are acting like them!

However, a growing number of humans give no "prestige" to hunters. In fact such people do the reverse!I am not impressed by reading that someone is a hunter. They lose points for doing so to my way of thinking.

The Kogi people do not kill animals or humans and have lived that way for hundreds of years proving it is not necessary at all.

As for passing judgement, all of us do this constantly - we live lives in which we are judging and evaluating what we like and don't like, know and don't know, want and don't want, etc constantly. The sense provide the information and we compute a reaction which is a judgement surely? Those who make similar judgements tend to associate with and prefer others like them. This is logical I would say.

I would further suggest that meat-eating and hunting are both taught behaviour forms. That millions of people have been taught these things as a norm is evident but it doesn't always have to be that way. I used to eat meat and that was because I was brought up in a meat eating family. I chose not to do so although I actually like many types of meat having, as I say, been brought up to eat them. I agree with you totally that it is a "matter of personal choice."

This brings me to consumerism. Consumers consume what they are taught to consume and what is made readily available. For those who do not wish to consume what is on sale and advertised everywhere this makes life much harder. I see examples of this all the time. Personal choice is sometimes hard to maintain under such circumstances.

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MagicStarER 7 years ago from Western Kentucky

My friend, you and I are precisely on the same page in all that you have expressed here. It is certainly a mind-wracking dilemma, isn't it? I pretty much think the same way, and do the same things you are - ie: not eating meat, trying not to wear materials made from animals, not harming animals deliberately, etc.

I don't think there is any way to completely resolve the dilemmas you have brought up. I have learned to just do the best I can and not try to think about attaining a utopian world for all life in this present world. (Even though I am the biggest activist there is against animal cruelty of any kind, against animal testing and puppy mills, horse slaughter, advocate for wildlife protection, etc...) I believe that God will take care of this perfectly after Jesus comes back and creates the new earth. In the bible, it says that "there shall be no harm done in all His kingdom", and that "the lion shall lie down with the lamb". I don't think we have the answers to these questions, but I know God does.

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Bard of Ely 7 years ago from Lisbon, Portugal Author

I am glad we agree on our relationship with animals although I am afraid I do not share your religious beliefs or faith. I am of the opinion that the world is made the way it is as a result of the combined thoughts and efforts of those in it. So I think it is up to the people to sort it out.

It is why I mentioned consumerism, because if people as a majority are happy to buy meat products and do not speak out about animal abuse then the suppliers and manipulaters of public opinion will continue to dish out the same.

Thank you for posting your comments, MagicStarER!

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Aya Katz 7 years ago from The Ozarks

Bard of Ely, chimpanzees behave like humans, and humans behave like chimpanzees, because we are so similar. We are not the same animal, but we have many qualities in common.This is not a coincidence.

As for the human overpopulation problem, I suggest that we might be able to limit it by agreeing for each woman to have only one child. Of course, if we can't agree on this, nature will resolve the problem in less humane ways. I would prefer the less natural, but more humane method. After the population is reduced, we may all return to a better balance with nature. This will include not eating more than we need, nor producing more young than the ecosystem can bear. Hunter-gatherers do not overpopulate, because women living that lifestyle rarely ovulate. They don't have the fat reserves to do so.

It is the invention of agriculture that brought us to "consumerism" -- a situation where there is so much surplus that many feel the urge to consume more than they actually need. 

Traditional peoples revere the hunter for a reason. Hunting, in the natural world, and without modern conveniences, is a difficult and dangerous activity.

Our intelligence developed in a competitive environment. Plants receive their energy through photosynthesis, so they do not require a brain -- and hence have not developed one. Animals who hunt usually have greater intelligence than those who do not. All animals, herbivores and carnivores both, have greater intelligence than plants, because it requires intelligence to figure out what to eat and how not to be eaten.

How many animals are living with you? How well do you know them? True animal lovers respect animals for who they are and understand their limitations. That includes the human animal.


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Bard of Ely 7 years ago from Lisbon, Portugal Author

The reduce the population by cutting down on how many children each woman has has been tried and failed badly. How is to be enforced? We also have had the recent situation in Russia where they were encouraging more births and thus making the situation worse! Who would ensure that people stayed within your guidelines of one child? How would this be ensured? Hopefully not by the same fascist system we currently have. Many of the elite who propose population reduction have large families so again it is one rule for them and another for the rest of us!

Re agriculture the "traditional people" known as the Kogi live entirely by these means and have the complete opposite to consumerism and yet they have lived successfully this way for hundreds of years! These people do not revere the hunter at all. They call him and all the rest of us "the Younger Brother."

I live with a female cat and consider that I know her very well and likewise she knows me very well - in fact it has been observed that my cat companion often runs the household here not me!

And if there is "a situation where there is so much surplus," as you say, then that illustrates what I have already said - that the way the world is, is manipulated and controlled by the few who run it! They have no intention of using the surplus foods to feed the starving. There is no reason that people should starve when more than enough food can be produced!

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Aya Katz 7 years ago from The Ozarks

Bard Of Ely, I think we both abhor government intervention in our lives. I do not want the government becoming involved in population reduction, either. There may be no way to enforce it. But there is no way to enforce vegetarianism. So in this, we are dependent in getting others to agree. I don't think we'll ever get anyone to agree to anything by guilt-tripping them. It takes positive motivation.

I'm glad you have a good relationship with your cat. Has she ever presented you with the gift of a mouse?

There is no reason for anyone to starve. There is also no reason for anyone to be in debt.

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Lady Guinevere 7 years ago from West By God

Itnwas said a few years back that the US can provide food for the entire world--so where is this food and who is getting it. Most of it is being thrown out, yes thrown away. For instance, I was looking for the fat off of meat that the butchers in a large grocery store had and they told me that I could not even buy it. They said that there was a law that prented them from doing so. I was getting it for the birds, but then I thought of how much meat would be still on that meat......get the drift of this. Then you have all the food that is not eaten in restaraunts that they HVE to throw away. The law prevents them from even giving it to the employees that may want to take it home or distribute it elsewhere.

Food that have shelf-lifes on them and that are just passed that get thrown out. Now I have bought items as such and have put them in the freezer and they are still good.

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Lady Guinevere 7 years ago from West By God

Speaking about birth rates and the control of such--how can we do that when there are people like Octomom out there have 8 babies at once and the doctor's that promote such things!

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Andrew Hawkley 7 years ago

Aya Katz, you might want to aquaint yourself with the Aquatic Ape theory.

This quote is taken from wikipedia:

"As compared to the great apes, their nearest living relatives, humans exhibit many significant differences in anatomy and physiology, including bipedalism,[1] almost hairless skin like some marine mammals,[2] hair growth patterns following water flow-lines,[3] increased subcutaneous fat for insulation,[4][5] descended larynx,[3][6] vernix caseosa,[3] a hooded nose and the philtrum preventing water from entering the nostrils [3], voluntary breath control like marine mammals and birds,[3][7] and greasy skin with an abundance of sebaceous glands, which can be interpreted as a waterproofing device.[8] It has also been suggested that the abundance of docosahexaenoic acid in seafood would have been helpful in the development of a large brain.[9]"

Look at it this way, if meat eating is so natural for humans why do they have to cook it? Chimps eat it raw. Seafood is commonly eaten raw but meat of land mammals is not.

Humans also tend to mate face to face like marine mammals.

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Aya Katz 7 years ago from The Ozarks

Andrew Hawkley, humans don't have to cook meat -- if it's fresh!

I have eaten raw fish and raw steak and lived to tell the tale. We are accustomed to cooking our meat now in industrial countries, because we seldom get it fresh. Fresh is better! In many cases, raw is better, if fresh...

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Bard of Ely 7 years ago from Lisbon, Portugal Author

Thanks for your new comments, Aya, Lady G and Andrew!

Aya, yes, Tiggy has caught mice, geckos, butterflies, birds and shrews. Some I have rescued in time but others it was too late. Where we live now we only have a balcony but she has still caught birds, butterflies and a gecko! She likes to catch and eat insects.

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Aya Katz 7 years ago from The Ozarks

Bard of Ely,

Tiggy sounds like a very healthy cat with sharp instincts.

I have two dogs (both came to me as strays.) One is a tiny female of mixed heritage. You wouldn't guess it by looking at her, but she is a mighty hunter. She catches squirrels and eats them. I don't encourage this, because it means she has to be de-wormed every so often, but there's nothing I can do to keep her from following her nature.

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Andrew Hawkley 7 years ago

The word natural is being used inconsistently by the pro-meat eating camp here. Eovery talks about cattle farming being part of nature then he says farmers provide a better life for the cows than nature. Suggesting that farming is out of sync with nature and that unnatural ways are both kinder and favourable.

Aya, mighty hunters do not get de-wormed by humans, nor do they live in comfortable human houses. You are giving your pet several "unnatural" advantages over the squirrels.

You imply so much the importance of nature but you say "I would prefer the less natural, but more humane method" regarding population reduction. It appears to me that is not the only case where you prefer less natural methods.

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The Mad Aunt 5 years ago from Wales

I don't think I've ever killed anything, not even a fly, unless I may have accidentally trodden on an ant. However, I believe that some humans are far too anxious about death. We don't know about it so we fear causing it to others or ourselves.

I get your point, Steve, about the insects that damage your plants - but who is to say which is the more entitled to life? The animals or the plants. I find vegans very hypocritical, they say they don't want to eat anything that has been living - yet they stuff themselves full of beans and vegetables and cereals, possibly denying animals and insects their natural foodstuffs. I just think people can get too overwrought trying to do the 'right' thing - when perhaps there is no right. All we can do is weigh up our choices and hopefully make those which are in harmony with our emotions. Forcing our own choices on other people is entirely wrong, for in doing that, we deny other people their individuality.

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Bard of Ely 5 years ago from Lisbon, Portugal Author

Thanks for your thoughts, Lindy! I currently have a major problem I have to deal with and it involves what I regard as very unfair and horrible treatment of Tiggy so am loathe to do what I may be forced to if I have to come back to the UK! This is her home here!

Amata 5 years ago

Great article, Bard of Ely. I have the same problem regarding pets.. A dog is a carnivore and I guess a vegan diet could be harmful for it. On the other hand, many vegans have vegan pets; well, I don't know..

As for shoes, belts, etc. I have the same opinion as you. I don't buy these products, because I don't want to support this industry. My friends knows I don't wear leather, so they don't give me leather presents. But if someone is throwing away a pair of shoes because they don't fit them or anyone else they've asked and fit me, I will take them. The poor animal has been killed anyway, you can't bring it back to life, how will you help it by letting your friend throw away the shoes? The same is with cosmetics. I haven't bought a single cosmetic that has been tested on animal for many, many years, because I don't want to support their production; but if someone is giving me a Garnier body lotion, I will take it - it's been already bought. Then, after a few months, I tell the person that I don't use cosmetics of this and this brand. They will know for the future.

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Bard of Ely 5 years ago from Lisbon, Portugal Author

Thank you for this great feedback, Amata!

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Herbivore Lion 5 years ago from Havenheed

There are many ludicrous comments on here but this has got to be the best:

Aya Katz:

"I am just suggesting that we not force a way of life on people that is unnatural. It is okay for some people to be vegetarians, just as it is okay for some people to lead lives of celibacy and self-denial. It's a matter of personal choice. But to pass judgment on people who eat meat as somehow inferior morally to yourself is not so different from a celibate person passing judgment on all those who have active sex lives."

Presumably the insistence is that not eating meat is like not having sex so therefore eatng meat must be like having sex. In which case I'd like to know has she ever got the two confused? I can imagine the trial...

"Well I was having sex with my husband then I confused him for a piece of steak and when I woke in the morning half his chest was missing."


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Bard of Ely 5 years ago from Lisbon, Portugal Author

Thanks for posting your thoughts!

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