What Would You Do?

You run an animal sanctuary for rescued farm animals and livestock, where they can live happy lives frolicking in the dewy grass. It is as good a life as any animal could ask for: you protect them from predators and from disease, and you don’t even plan to take them to slaughter. Life is good.

You follow a well-balanced vegan diet. You got your pulses and vegetables from the co-op down the road. You get fruit from local orchards, and grain from a mill not too far away. Heck, your next door neighbor is a mushroom farmer. You are the luckiest person in the world, no seriously–who gets to live local and vegan like that.

But life isn’t good forever. Stan, an old rescued steer is dying. He’s just really old, don’t worry, it wasn’t murder. Then he’s dead.

After you dry your tears, what do you do?

A) Why let a body go to waste? Eat him. Maybe I could make a pair of boots from his hide to remember him by.

B) No, he’s a friend. I could never eat a friend. I’ll bury him.

C) Eating animals is exploitative. I would never.

D) Fill in the blank below.

I’m just saying. One of these three I came up with doesn’t make any sense.

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8 Responses to What Would You Do?

  1. Rachel says:

    D. Feed to carnivorous animal i.e. dog (which decreases the dog’s need to take another life)

  2. vegebon says:

    I would do A.
    And I want to THANK YOU for your blog and greats posts.
    I very much believe in 99% veganism – like raw foodism, I think a fair amount of people just can’t go 100%.
    And I “don’t care” about the lost 1%, because our environmental (on animals, ecosystems, etc) footprint is much heavier than this 1% ! (because we throw our dejections in water instead of soil, because we eat grain, because we use many petrol-based stuff, etc).

  3. no one says:

    Oddly enough you don’t mention how the steer died. Did you put it out of its misery? Have any of you ever seen a pet die? Because, oddly enough despite all the theory, the mercifull way is to kill it, not to let it die by itself.

    • no one says:

      By the way, it gets more complicated when you consider that before you decide that the suffering of your dying pet is enough for you to rush to the vet and have it killed, the animal must already have started to suffer. And that is in the ideal case; most people ward of the decision because having it put down is rather a difficult decision. “Shall I wait another hour? Perhaps its only temporary”, you think, watching your choking cat die.

      The more hesitation, the more your pet will suffer.

  4. Kim says:

    D. He’s another sentient being, who had a life of his own, desires, frustrations, etc. , so no, I would not eat him, or in any way use his remains. Whether I was close to him (likely, as he was living on the sanctuary I’m hypothetically running) makes no difference (so it’s not B.). I wouldn’t eat my partner or my animal companions or other family members after they die, and I wouldn’t eat other animals (human or otherwise) after they die, either.

    I also wouldn’t feed the remains to someone else. While it would make no difference to the bull – he’s dead and nothing matters to him anymore – it makes a difference to me. I guess it’s a question of decency or something. Not entirely rational, but useful: it’s good to want to treat your dead “respectfully”, I think, despite the fact that it obviously makes no difference to them how we treat them. Would you toss your parents’ remains to the dogs for them to eat?

    It’s not really a question of whether it’s right or wrong. I think that maybe it comes down to custom. Some cultures used to eat their dead loved ones, or perhaps all their dead. If that was custom here I might do it, too, so long as I did not find it distasteful or was against it for moral reasons (which I’m not, so long as no one’s life was cut short on purpose, etc.). As the bull has died of natural causes and presumably everything was done to keep him alive and healthy, this isn’t a case of exploitation (and therefore my reason for not eating him, etc. is not that he’s been exploited, as he has not been).

    If we were encouraged to view the resourceful using of all our dead’s remains as a good thing, if that was what constituted a “proper” attitude towards the dead by our customs, then that would be fine, but as things are, we don’t typically view it that way. Most of us recoil at the idea of eating fellow humans and companion animals, and if we respect other animals, we should feel the same way about them as well (that’s called consistency).

    • Royce says:

      “Would you toss your parents’ remains to the dogs for them to eat?”

      I’ve always thought sky burials were one of the most beautiful, and compassionate, treatments of the dead in the world.

      I just think there are many ways to show respect–and sometimes eating a carcass is just as much a sign of respect as whatever other folks do with dead animal bodies. (Do most folks bury them?) Even if I wouldn’t want to eat the body of a dead human loved one, I see nothing morally wrong for those that do. Customs are rarely consistent anyway, but I think we all like to pretend morality and ethics are.

      • Kim says:

        I’m subscribed to this thread, but for some reason got no notification that you had replied to my post. Weird. I got notified for another reply…

        So, you’re in agreement with me, then? Or you think our society is capable of “showing respect” to dead rescued farm animals by eating them?

        Again, while I recognize that in some cultures, this is how it’s done with dead loved ones, in our own culture, if people were eating dead rescued farm animals, I’d worry that they were more motivated to find ways of cheating on their vegan diet. It would make me wonder if perhaps they didn’t do everything they could to keep the animals alive, etc. So, unless we had a radical shift in our relationships to dead ones, and started eating our dead parents, siblings, companion animals, etc., then I’d distrust anyone here who was claiming to be eating their dead farm animals out of “respect”.

      • Royce says:

        I think people are capable of showing respect to dead animals through eating them. Society isn’t really capable of anything.

        Well fortunately no one can eat flesh and claim to be following a vegan diet, so they wouldn’t be cheating on veganism. I just wouldn’t agree that they are being immoral.

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