by PAJAH WILLIAMS
I made the horrid but necessary decision to watch the 2005 documentary, Earthlings, over Christmas break this year. Oh, the regret I have now, for what I have seen cannot be unseen! For those who are unfamiliar, Earthlings (which is available for free on YouTube) depicts the gruesome images of the mass torture and annihilation that human beings inflict on animals for entertainment, food, and apparel.
This film shows the gory affair of a cow getting its throat slit, a buck having a thick rope cinched around his genitals in order to drive him wild so that he can perform a good show at the rodeo, and sweet little chickens getting their beaks sawed off to prevent them from eating one another because they are so morbidly malnourished to the point of depravity and desperation.
It points out why humans are able to be remorselessly complicit in the exploitation and slaughtering of other sentient creatures – even more than is naturally required for our survival. It is because we esteem ourselves too highly. We cherish our lives – human life – more than we do the life of a swine. We rank our species superior to the likes of fish or turkey. For our kind, there is sentiment; there is value. This can be evidenced with two examples. If a pit bull seriously harms a non-provoking person, it is swiftly condemned to death. If a hunter stalks and kills a non-provoking deer, it is called a sport.
It’s repulsive, isn’t it? How self-important we are as a species. And ever since I watched this film, I have felt so convicted, so repulsed by my irresistible cravings for animal flesh. I feel, in some respects, like a psychopath, like I cannot control my impulses. I gleam in the aroma of freshly scrambled chicken ovum. To be in the presence of juicy, grilled cow flesh makes my mouth water. It’s disgusting, really.
Am I an addict or psychopath? For I indulge in something that I know is neither good for my body nor for my soul. How can I be cured? I have tried to be vegan, and I have failed miserably with all the temptations in this world! I am, after all, still a struggling college student; therefore, a 79 cent taco from Taco Bell is far more appealing to me than a five dollar salad from McDonald’s when I’m too rushed to cook an actual meal (and don’t hit me with the value salad option: that junk is merely a fork worth of lettuce and this girl’s gotta eat). So I rationalize. I adhere to ID (for my Freudian mates), that internal force that is driven by pleasure rather than morality.
I. Eat. Meat. And I don’t regret it until it starts breaking down in my system, and then I ponder.
Why doesn’t knowledge of the error of my transgressions deter me? Is it because I have been systemically conditioned to condone eating animal products? Maybe. Or maybe I have yet to find the courage and discipline within myself to divert from societal conventions that support animal cruelty. It is so easy to rationalize and conform when everyone around you is doing it. I by no means intend to condemn anyone who partakes in the previously mentioned activities. If you hunt or fish or enjoy attending rodeos or circuses, these decisions are morally objectionable, but they do not make you a terrible person. As for me, I am going to try – and I’m going to fail – and I am going to try again to gradually ease myself into a healthy vegan lifestyle.