Friday, June 14, 2013

Children, Dead Animals and Morals

chicken in a pot

There’s this blog post being passed around on Twitter about a 5-year old boy named Luiz who’s beginning to understand that meat is dead animals.  It’s one of those things every kid goes through.  I remember when Munchkinhead was figuring it out.  Being the oh-so-nice big sister that I am, I’d moo every time she took a bite of Hamburger Helper. 

The blog post is essentially a transcript of a video.  Except for the last line, where the blog writer, a vegan mother, exclaims, “Kids know what’s right.”   There’s nothing right or wrong about eating animals. 

The author talks about how Luiz is so logical and it’s this logic that brings him to understand that it’s right to not eat the animals.  Luiz’s logic is something like this: this octopus had to die for me to eat it;  I like animals better standing up, so I don’t want to eat any animals.

Ok, that’s logical as far as why Luiz doesn’t want to eat his octopus.  I’m a vegetarian; my reasons at 10 were probably pretty similar to Luiz’s reasons at 5.  I don’t want eat animals, so I don’t.   Little Luiz doesn’t want to eat animals, so – honestly, I can’t tell if his mom lets him off the hook or tricks him into eating it.  But this reasoning says nothing about morals; it says nothing about the ramifications of eating or not eating animals, whether to the animals, to Luiz, to the environment or to anything else.

Does a 5-year old like the animals alive because he thinks it’s better for the animals, or because feels guilty for harming the animals?  Luiz says “These animals, you gotta take care of them;” I’m sure he was taught that.  Most of us are taught to be nice to living creatures, taught not to harm, taught that killing is wrong, and taught to feel bad (guilty) when we do something we were taught not to do.  When you put all these things together with a child’s logic, it’s easy to see how eating animals becomes “bad.”   But it ignores a whole lot of other things about life.

If you want to be vegetarian or vegan or raise your children on those diets, that’s fine.  I’m right there with you, eating my tofu and Morningstar Farms.  But if you’re going to say it’s morally wrong to eat animals, have some reasons beyond “I like the animals better alive.”

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