I've come across many strange people in my life, but few as mindbogglingly peculiar as self-proclaimed "animal lovers" who eat meat. In my experience, I've found this is a common thing. Many people claim to be animal lovers and go out of their way to promote animal rights to some degree (i.e. boycotting palm oil and adopting pets rather than shopping for them). What confuses me, however, is the fact that they partake in all of this animal activism while willingly and regularly consuming animal products. They say they love animals, and yet they eat them. As a vegan, I honestly can't get my head around the concept of claiming to love somebody, paying for them to die and then eating their corpse. To the people who do this: our definitions of love must be very different.
For the purpose of this article, I'll go with the most commonly accepted and largely universal definition of love:
1. a strong feeling of affection.
2. a great interest and pleasure in something.
If this is the definition of love we're all comfortable with, then loving animals while eating meat simply doesn't add up. It's practically impossible. If a meat-eating "animal lover" told me they love me, I'd be seriously afraid, and with good reason. I'm not at all interested in being imprisoned and slaughtered in order to end up on the plate of somebody who "loves" me.
Most people love their parents, friends and partners - their pets, too - but would they pay for them to be slaughtered and then eat their dead bodies? Never! True animal lovers respect all animals in the same way they would a family member. They would never, ever do anything to harm them.
""Animal lovers" who eat meat are really just some-animal-lovers. They love the "cute" animals, the "pretty" animals... the animals society deems deserving of love, i.e. dogs, cats, and bunnies."
I do understand that there are some people out there who genuinely love animals and still eat meat. These people are different in the sense that they haven't yet made the connection (between meat and animal suffering), but eventually will. After all, most vegans have eaten meat at some stage in their life. I'm one of them - I didn't make the connection between meat and animal suffering until I was six years old. As a true animal lover, I immediately cut out meat for good after my "big realisation". The amount of time it takes for somebody to break free of the meat-eating mould is often largely dependent on their upbringing. Some people have been brought up to believe that meat-eating is completely necessary for good health, so I can understand why it may take them a little longer to break free.
"To truly be an animal lover, you must acknowledge that all animals are deserving of love, respect and freedom, regardless of how cute and cuddly they are."
If, on the other hand, a person knows exactly where meat comes from and also knows that we don't need to eat it, they simply cannot call themselves an animal lover. You can't love somebody and willingly eat them too. "Animal lovers" who eat meat are really just "some-animal-lovers". They love the "cute" animals, the "pretty" animals... the animals society deems deserving of love. You're not an animal lover if you care solely about dogs, cats, and bunnies.
To truly be an animal lover, you must acknowledge that all animals are deserving of love, respect and freedom, regardless of how cute and cuddly they are. To only love animals that make you feel good (through their pure adorableness), in my opinion at least, is quite selfish. All animals - from cows to horses to goats to fish - experience love and pain just as dogs and cats do (some even more so). When compared to each other, for example, cows and dogs are not all that different - they look very similar, experience pain in the same way, and are both able to form deep emotional bonds with their human companions. Why love one and eat the other?
The same is true for many other animals we have been programmed to see as food. Pigs, chickens, goats, sheep, ducks - they are all capable of complex thought and emotion. Even more importantly, they can feel pain. They have families. They can suffer. If you truly loved animals, you would do anything you could to avoid inflicting pain upon them. You certainly wouldn't pay for them to be slaughtered and eat their remains! In fact, that's the complete opposite of what you would do.
The best way to show your love for somebody is to dedicate your heart and soul to granting them freedom and happiness. Veganism is a great way to do this - in fact, it's the best way. Through veganism, we advocate against the commodification of innocent and sentient beings, we promote equal love and respect, and most importantly - we save lives.
If you genuinely consider yourself an animal lover, go vegan. It'll be the best change you ever make.