People make choices every day on caring for children and animals

Re: Going veggie has plenty of benefits, Opinion, Sept. 3; Hungry children have to come before animals, Letters, Sept. 8.

To the Editor,

Re: Going veggie has plenty of benefits, Opinion, Sept. 3; Hungry children have to come before animals, Letters, Sept. 8.

Toby Gorman’s fine editorial claims that meat tastes good.

But, allowing sense-pleasure to overrule sound reasoning is unhealthy as many an addict knows.

Ruth Bard’s letters suggest that human animals are worth more than those of other species. Yet, moving away from using slaughtered animals for food and toward a sustainable approach that relies on grains, legumes, fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds would mean more food for human beings.

People can make choices and do. Statistics Canada suggests Canadian families spent an average of $432 on pet expenses and $330 on child care in 2007.  Perhaps there will soon be picketing at pet stores?  “Feed the Children, not the Chihuahuas!”

And that’s nothing compared with the amount Canadians as a society spend on military adventures and ‘defense’ hardware.  Surely some of this money could be spent to, as Bill Hicks put it, “shoot food at hungry people”.

And why can’t the parents of these hungry children feed them? It seems the political and economic regimes need fixing first, otherwise we’ll just be pouring more aid in later.

And the issue of overpopulation is almost too big to get into. Why are you having more children than you can afford to feed?  Tragedy of the commons?

Pestilence, famine, or war (or all three) will soon bring the figures down to more manageable numbers.  I think ecologists refer to it as the ‘carrying capacity’ of an environment. If we can help, then we should.  But Malthus had the problem laid out way back in 1798: “The power of population is indefinitely greater than the power in the earth to produce subsistence for man.”

As far as the religious argument goes, I think the highest wisdom one letter writer achieves is that we are to be “always mindful that we will be held accountable for the manner in which we have treated that which has been entrusted to us”.

Buddhism and Hinduism have pretty solid doctrines about the need for ahimsa or non-violence. God placed mankind in a garden and gave him every green plant for food. Christianity has a vegetarian tradition.  If it is possible to live a healthy life without requiring that an animal die, surely it is preferable morally, practically and ethically.

The Cove is the 2009 documentary on the dolphin kill in Taiji, Japan. It won the Academy Award in 2010 for best documentary.  Peter Singer’s book Animal Liberation was published in 1975 and updated in 2009. I recommend it for those wishing to build their vegetarianism on a solid theoretical foundation.

We’re never forced to choose between the humane treatment of animals and feeding hungry kids. We can do both. We can be kind to animals by not eating them. And we can love our neighbours by feeding them “a meal of vegetables where there is love” (Proverbs 15:17).

Ian Poole