Question, why is 7,000 a number to be ashamed of, one to live in infamy? Answer; because that is the number of animals the average human being consumes in a lifetime. Yes, 7,000 lives of lesser creatures, a lot of them mammals, are killed for us and their flesh eaten by us. Here's the breakdown; 11 cows, 27 pigs, 2,400 chickens, 80 turkeys, 30 sheep and 4,500 fish per human being. To most the aforementioned merely elicits a shrug. After all, we humans are created as omnivores, we love the taste of meat (also knows as dead flesh). However in this article I want to examine the path we traverse to arrive finally at beings that kill and savor the taste of animal flesh.
All babies are born with the ability and the necessary enzymes to digest meat. This is the heritage of our carnivore ancestry. However, we are also born with something else uniquely human --a mind capable of analytical thinking. The latter is essential as it is the cornerstone of all you see around you in the form of human civilization. We are because we think!
When a four-year-old is given their first bites of a juicy burger they enjoy the taste, the warm blood oozing brings moisture to each bite. Throw a slice of cheddar cheese on it and the child feels next to heaven. Yet experiments have shown that when told of the source of the burger, that it came from a living cow, shown a photo of such cow, and told further that the cow was killed and cut up in order to make that delicious burger, the child is reviled by the truth. In many cases they react with hysterics and tears, then go into a tirade about how they will no longer eat animals. Often they turn on the parents for having made them do such a heinous act, sometimes going as far as striking them in fits of anger.
What is happening here? The child one minute is enjoying a delicious burger and the next moment is attacking his/her parents for having made them eat it. This is where that analytical thinking becomes critical. The child enjoys the taste of meat while they are in primal mode. However once enlightened, the processing power of the mind takes over and informs the child that they are the beneficial killers of perfectly innocent animals.
The conundrum is striking. Note the myriad of cartoons where the heroes are animals. From Mickey Mouse to Donald Duck to Wiley Coyote, the animals represent humorous and empathetic figures. This trend has only accelerated with modern feature films such as Babe and Nemo. How does a child reconcile the loving antics of an animal on screen to the cruelty of slashing its throat and eating its flesh? The answer is, they don't. They rebel. The analytical mind is ruthless in its logic and resultant accusation of the child as a killer of creatures they endear.
For parents this represents an unnecessary complexity. Meat is cheap, it contains many nutrients and it's easy to prepare. So how to get the child to enjoy and love meat while also loving cartoon characters and animals in general? Firstly, the parents have a head start. Children were primal creatures before they were four years old, thus they actually enjoy the taste of meat. All a parent has to do is disconnect the images of the playful and kind animals from the juicy burger on the plate. This effort almost all parents engage with vigor. They absolutely do not want to get into a debate about the morality of eating meat. Best leave things alone. Don't tell the child where meat comes from. Don't discuss the issue. Just let them savor the taste. The child on their part aides by suspending disbelief. They know where the meat comes from, but they shield their mind from accessing the logic that would make them co-killers.
All of society joins in the effort to blindfold the children. You will see no photos of cows, sheep or chickens next to the meat aisles in the supermarket. The red meat itself is innocuous, wrapped in cellophane in sterile white trays. The back room where butchers are cutting up the slabs are hidden, inaccessible to shoppers. A child walking past a hundred dead animals is allowed to suspend disbelief and act as though the meat is nothing but a piece of plastic.
Only 5% of Americans identify as vegetarians currently. This is mostly due to the extreme efforts of parents and society to blindfold the children. Studies have shown that once a child determines that they will refuse to harm animals, that way of life often carries on for a lifetime. The great majority of today's vegetarians started the journey at a very young age when somehow they were awakened to the secret knowledge and the analytical mind forced them to choose mental sanctity over the pleasures of the pallet.
We are in the midst of an ecological disaster where study after study indicates a plant based diet, along with using less fossil fuels, is the only path to saving the planet. Yet parents, the people most capable of changing the course of our demise, refuse to educate their children about meat. Just telling the truth will go a long way, but they won't. Again, why? Mostly because the parents, after a lifetime of consuming animals, don't want to feel inferior to their four year old. That a child who is unable to accomplish much else is however able to choose the path of morality when fully informed, is demeaning to the parents self identity. It shocks them and their own dormant analytical mind kicks in making them feel guilty and ignoble. Thus self preservation is triggered.
A macabre dance unfolds between society and the parents, both complicit in keeping the truth a secret. The Internet is full of articles outlining the methodology parents can employ to convince their child to eat meat without inciting the aforementioned reactions. Driven by practicality, economics and self absorption, the parents and society thus conspire actively in misleading the child even when merely telling them the truth would save the planet and possibly that same child's future life.