Man is the only animal that can remain on friendly terms
with the victims he intends to eat until he eats them.
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Last year my cat fathered five kittens. I visited the host of the mother and babies, all healthy, white and cute! After admiring them for hours, I was offered some tea and snacks. To my surprise my plate was full of roasted meat which I refused in expense of being rude. During our tea chat she swang between the issues of how worried she was for the labor pains of Pamuk and how she cut herself while sacrificing the kurban. I realized that in her conceptualization the hierarchy was not only between man and other species but hypocritically also among the species themselves. On the one hand there was her lovely cat which was fed with the luxurious food; on the other hand, kurban was a luxurious food itself to serve her guests.
I am a vegetarian, practicing a diet that excludes animal flesh, including poultry, game, fish, shellfish or crustacea”, and slaughter by-products. It is generally thought that etymological root of the word is vegetable; however it was derived from the word vegetus which meant “lively”. In more poetic terms as David Brenner nicely puts it, “a vegetarian is a person who won’t eat anything that can have children”. There is a variety of vegetarian diets: ovolactovegetarianism that I practice, lactovegetarianism that exclude eggs and veganism that rejects any products that are produced by animal labor.
We can trace the history of vegetarianism back to the 6th century BC in India, Southern Italy and Greece, affiliated with religious and philosophical ideals. In 1847 the first Vegetarian Society was founded in England, and was followed by The International Vegetarian Union in 1908. By the early 20th century vegetarianism gained a world-wide popularity due to religious, nutritional, physiological, psychological, ethical, economic and environmental concerns. Especially with the growing consciousness for global climate change and environmental degradation, environmentalists began to support a vegetarian life due to many reasons, which can be summarized as:
(1)Intensive farming practices are environmentally unsustainable, they consume large amounts of fossil fuel and water resources and cause emissions of harmful gases and chemicals. Animal agriculture as one of the largest sources of GHGs.
(2) Industrial mono culture farms is detrimental to wildlife and threatens biodiversity.
(3) Meat production is less efficient than growing vegetables and fruits, causing a strain on water and energy resources.
(4)Production of extrements in factory farms pollutes water and contaminates the air.
However, rearing and butchering of animals for meat consumption itself is a very serious political issue, working on a Cartesian dichotomy of man vs. nature, (rational human vs. machine as Descartes articulates). I think the anthrocentric view is the root, and all the other harms meat industry is responsible for are secondary. It is the root because it defines the ontological grounds on which all discussion takes place.
Vegetarianism is ethical as well as political. Animals are valuable in themselves and are part of the moral community that we belong to. In the post-Darwin world, it is almost a consensual paradigm that the difference between humans and animals are not matter of rank, but of degree. Therefore, they must share the fundamental rights (to life, freedom from torture etc.). Yet, humans turn them into mere objects of their domination for their flesh and products of their labor. Moreover, the psychology of this domination is the same one that men have over women, West over east, Sublime over picturesque.
 Colin Spencer: The Heretic’s Feast. A History of Vegetarianism, London: Fourth Estate 1993, p 33-67, 261-262.