I honor the animals I eat with my hunting practices, or my farming practices, or by simply understanding that I am eating sentient beings who sacrificed their lives so that I may continue to live.
The practice of animal sacrifice has roots in ancient history, where it existed as a means of interacting with the spirit world for the benefit of a person or community. The act of slaughtering these animals had spiritual connotations, and the sacrificial animals themselves were viewed as beings who gave their lives on behalf of humanity. This same psychology applies today among meat eaters who view the acts of hunting and farming animals as spiritual contracts, who view the slaughter of these animals as a sacrifice, and who view the products derived from that slaughter as gifts from the dead animal.
The problem with this psychology is that there can be no contract when all of the parties are not in agreement, and the animal both cannot and does not agree to die. Specifically, hunted animals do not agree to be maimed and chased through the woods until they are finally killed, nor do fished animals agree to be lured, stabbed through the mouth, and brought up out of the water to suffocate. Farmed animals do not agree to be genetically manipulated, forcibly bred, robbed of their offspring, mutilated, confined in small, filthy spaces, transported across long distances without food or water, and slaughtered in factories that process them for meat often while they are still conscious. Even in the most perfect of conditions, where a hunter kills an animal with a single shot or a farmer treats his animals well before shipping them off for slaughter, these animals are not entering into any sort of spiritual contract, they are not sacrificing their lives, and they are not giving humanity anything. Therefore, there is no honor and no respect involved in the slaughter of animals for food. The language itself is disingenuous, self-exonerating rhetoric designed to displace personal guilt. The truth is far simpler, and it is this: that hunted and farmed animals are not honored or respected when they are slaughtered. They are merely killed in spite of their desire to live because humans like the taste of their flesh and secretions.
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