(I feel that a disclaimer is needed. Today’s topic came out of a conversation I had at work. Someone mentioned cannibalism and I thought, who becomes a cannibal in the first place? Naturally, my mind went to the most ridiculous place and I thought of vegans. Then I thought it would be fun to try to make an impossible argument for such a ridiculous statement. I recognize that the conditions that most chickens and cows are raised in is deplorable, and steps should be made to improve their quality of life. And I don’t have strong feelings about vegans or vegetarians. People can eat what they want. They just can’t eat who they want. )
I want you to imagine a pyramid. Plants are on the bottom. Fish are a little higher. Livestock are even higher. Then you have more intelligent animals like dolphins and dogs and chimps. Then, on the top, you have humans. This is basically how your average human views their standing in the food chain. We are at the top. Sure, we generally don’t eat chimps and dolphins, but we wouldn’t consider it murder if we ate one in order to avoid starvation.
Most of us eat meat without any feeling of guilt. We don’t carry the moral burden of a thousand dead chickens, or a thousand dead cows. Meat tastes good and it is part of the natural order. That being said, we draw the line at eating people. It is acceptable to eat other animals, but it is completely unacceptable to eat one of our own. The reasons for this are many, but the overriding one is the high (even sacred) value we place on human life. Humans are not only more intelligent and resourceful than the other animals, we also carry a unique spark of the divine. The smartest chimp in the world still lacks this eternal and invaluable human characteristic. We are different. We are above. We are separate.
Now I want you to imagine a circle. A circle doesn’t have a top or a bottom. Each point on the circle is equal. At one point in the circle are plants. At another, fish. At another, livestock. At another, chimps. And at another, humans. They are all equal. One is not superior or higher than another. This is closer to how a vegan views the food chain. Humans do not have the right to take the lives of other animals. All life is sacred.
You may be thinking, how could you possibly make an argument showing that vegans are closer to becoming cannibals than meat eaters? Well, this is how.
In order to view all animals as equals, you have to reduce the potential value of human life. In the classic (Judeo-Christian) view, humans are made in the image of God. They are far above the other creatures. They are moral beings. You wouldn’t sue a chicken because a chicken has no moral responsibility.
If the value of a cow’s life is equal to that of a human, surely it is at a great loss to the human. We do not ask the cow to elevate himself to our position. So it is up to us to reduce our superior standing. You don’t see any other animal refusing to eat meat out of a moral objection. The only reason humans can do this is the same reason they are above the animals in the first place.
So if someone views the lesser animals as having the same sacred life as humans, that sacred life becomes less sacred. I know this is probably offensive to a number of people, but how could it not be true? How does a son of God retain his dignity and eternal worth when he is the equal to a chicken? Or a chimp?
Who is more likely to eat other humans? The one who views humans as a unique creation with a value far greater than that of other animals, or the one who views humans and other animals as fundamentally equal? I submit that it would be easier for a vegan to turn to cannibalism since their working philosophy reduces the sacredness of human life.