A Quote by Michael Pollan on animals, food, and pets

Whatever the cause, the effect is an unusual amount of confusion on the subject of animals.  For at the same time many of us seem eager to extend the circle of our moral consideration to other species, in our factory farms we’re inflicting more suffering on more animals than at any time in history.  One by one science is dismantling our claims to uniqueness as a species, discovering that such things as culture, tool making, language, and even possibly self consciousness are not, as we used to think, the exclusive properties of Homo sapiens.  And yet most of the animals we eat lead lives organized very much in the spirit of Descartes, who famously claimed that animals were mere machines, incapable of thought or feeling.  There’s a schizoid quality to our relationship with animals today in which sentiment and brutality exist side by side.  Half the dogs in America will receive Christmas presents this year, yet few of us ever pause to consider the life of a pig – an animal easily as intelligent as a dog – that becomes the Christmas ham.

            We tolerate this schizophrenia because the life of a pig has moved out of view; when’s the last time you saw a pig in person?  Meat comes from the grocery store, where it is cut and packaged to look as little like parts of animals as possible.  (When was the last time you saw a butcher at work?)  The disappearance of animals from our lives has opened a space in which the Peter Singers and the Frank Perdues of the world fair equally well.

Michael Pollan

Source: The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals (Large Print Press), Pages: 306

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