Commentary | Hyde Park: We can all take responsible meal actions

How Newton, Pythagoras, and morality come to dinner

We live in an era when it’s hard to believe whether Newton’s Third Law or – more philosophically (and trendily) speaking – karma really exists. Very few actions bring immediate results, and that leads us to think that they are nonexistent.

When I was little, I asked myself whether the juice I dumped in the sink and the business I did in the toilet went through different ducts. I thought that maybe great scientists had a machine to separate water from the junk I dumped so it wasn’t all a great mess. Oh, what a disappointment. Our whole lives we have been accustomed to automated actions without thinking about how things get to us and where they go after we use them.

It takes us less than a kilocalorie to turn a light on, but we don’t see how it is produced. If, as many people used to, we lived in the woods, lighting our own fires, carrying our own logs, I’m sure we would think twice before leaving the heating on while we’re away.

And these concepts are easily applied to tonight’s dinner. I know meat eaters, and they don’t like to learn how cows and pigs are treated and slaughtered. There’s no need to gross anyone out, we’re all more intelligent than that.

There’s a Latin American saying that goes: “Ojos que no ven, corazón que no siente” (or, not seeing means not minding). We are probably not as evil as that. We don’t want horrible things to happen to animals; however, we are not responsible enough to choose wisely. Why? Because we are unaware of what our decisions involve. We go to the supermarket and have the power to choose from the most miserable to the luckiest cow – as weird and as simple as that. Here is where responsibility plays its role. If I am going to eat meat, I commit to take all the grace or guilt of the animal’s suffering or joy because I made that choice. No one is exempt because ignorance is never an excuse.

Last week I read a column in The McGill Tribune, written by a vegetarian who wrote, “Any group that opposes animal testing for life-saving medical purposes is deplorable.” Where is the consistency? You don’t want animals to die unless they die for you? There is a great debate on whether animals are equal to humans, which the author also mentions in her article. Pythagoras said, “Man is the measure of all things” and in one of its many interpretations, we believe we have being conceded with the power of judging according to our own perspective. We are not one to judge and we are not one to decide over any other beings’ lives. Why wouldn’t one run over a dog, but will step on a spider? Double morality shoots back.

If I was a meat eater, at this point, I would be thinking, “And now what am I supposed to do? Am I not already fighting myself enough with school and life?” Simple actions: Let’s be responsible in the three basic human physical needs. Food: look for free range and responsible products (or go vegan), but watch it – just because it’s organic doesn’t mean it’s necessarily humane. Clothing: no sweat shops please. Housing: turn off the lights and turn down the heat when you leave. Act as if the whole world was your house, because it is.

One last thought. I believe many of us are missing the point of living on this Earth. We are missing the beauty of smiling. Let’s leave the thirst for power aside, and let’s occupy an important role in our society, one that makes us valuable for being helpful. It’s time to respect and time to love. Let’s treat other beings like we would like to be treated without judging. Give yourself a change and sit down by the lake, letting bugs friendly crawl up your shoes, not destroying but embracing the place we live in.

Adriana Celada is a U1 Animal Biology student.


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