Why I’m Not a Carnivore

by jdavidcharles

Arguments for or against vegetarianism/veganism tend to boil down to a Cartesian affirmation of animals-as-machines versus the PETA animals-are-our-friends jargon, the inclusion of animals into some common guild with us people. Neither of these are very intuitive to me although I can affirm each in part—animals are used as product, more often than not (but not exclusively) as meat-product, but also they express something of will, individuality, pleasure, and “freedom.”

Interestingly enough both arguments can be turned on there heads. For instance, we equally have the capacity for reification to meat-product. Both the cow and I share the capacity to be de-sexed, quarantined, pumped with corn product, and consumed by the masses (and, to be blunt, I would probably act a fair amount like a cow if in a cow’s situation, although perhaps such a hypothetical is too tautological to mean much). Likewise though me and the animal have a disparity of freedom—I am free to quarantine and eat the cow in a way the cow is not “free” to do to me for instance (I for one am terribly dissatisfied with such a line of argumentation, but that would be another post). Either argument essentially says, “hey, the animal is like such or can be used as such, therefore it is as such.” I am somewhat perturbed by either of these stances.

In short I think animals are animals. I think any interpretation of animals (whether as capital/value or anthropocentric) already presupposes a system of linguistic-speciest distinctions withdrawn from the animal. The animal cannot exist as my “friend” in the sense that my roommate whom I make espresso for and chat about Woody Allen with does—the animal is “absent” from language and human society.  S/He is not my “friend” save as animal-friend—not only can she not accept and reciprocate friendship as I give it, but she is wholly incapable of being available to it. She is in a different “world.” However, although the animal is not in human society and language it does not mean she is antithetical to it, it’s absence/nothingness. She is withdrawn from it. She is not available to it. However, the animal is available to things in an animal-ish way (compared to the machine which has no will or “availability”). Animals do animal things. Sometimes they eat this grass, sometimes that. They have monogamous, polygamous, homosexual, or unabashed libidinal sexual relations. Sometimes they’re celibate. They have pleasure and sometimes they don’t have pleasure.

All I’m saying is animals should be treated like animals. This is not an ontological sketch to say what that is if one can say what that is. Whether that means animals should be raised with the capacity to express what they can in the way they can before being consumed and dispersed as capital-product or rather we should stroll hand in paw/hoof/wing down the street singing Kumbaya is not this post’s concern. Simply put, animals are animals—which is a tautological way of saying animals are. Whatever the hell that means. It just seems to me people should be more aware of what the is-ness of animals is: whether avoiding meat-consumption, buying free-range, praying in sobriety before each meal, or simply deciding not to spay or neuter their Scottish terrier. Animals are. Figure it out.

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