"Speciesism" is defined by Merriam-Webster as "prejudice or discrimination based on species." It is often used by animal activists to question why we, as human beings, believe we deserve greater rights than the rest of the animal kingdom. So why do we think it is okay to eat certain species and not others?
I recently spent time in Thailand, living in an Akha village outside the city of Chiang Rai. Here, the Akha people have no problem eating dog, and invited me over one night to share. I told my friend this over lunch the other day, and she frowned, asking me, "how can they eat dogs? Dogs are too cute to eat!" taking a big, guiltless bite out of her 100% beef hamburger as she said so. I noted the irony.
Cuisine is a huge part of culture, and varies greatly from place to place. In the Andes of South America, guinea pig is popular, but travel a couple more hours to the Amazon, and one finds beetle larvae sold grilled on skewers. In China, it is not uncommon to find animal genitalia on fancy restaurant menus, and Russians dine happily on caviar. As Americans, accustomed to our bacon breakfasts and beef barbecues, we turn up our noses at the '"weird foods" found in other countries. We discriminate.
A while back, it was discovered that some supermarkets in the UK sold burgers that contained up to 30% horse meat. The public was appalled. But in France, they have no problem eating horse. The distinction we make between animals we eat and those we don't is largely artificial. Granted, there are species that are either unsafe or unhealthy to consume, but for the most part, we create boundaries based on customs.
Dogs are our pets, our friends -- how could we eat them? But cows, pigs, and chickens all show signs of similar levels of emotional attachment. The animals we do eat feel the same things as those we do not. In fact, in many studies, pigs have higher measures of intelligence than our canine pals. Ben Martin, a campaigner for Animal Aid, reiterates, "Pigs, horses, cats, chickens and dogs all feel love, fear and pain -- the reasons for not eating one kind of animal applies to all of them."
This is not an argument against eating animals. It is not an argument for eating animals. This is an argument to make you think: why do you eat what you eat? It is an injustice to condemn some animals to murder, while arguing for the salvation of others. It is hypocritical. Instead of discriminating, have an open mind. Think about it.