Wednesday, March 9

It has been about a month since I have finished the landmark book of animal rights- Animal Liberation, by Peter Singer. All of the chapters in Animal Liberation deal with hard facts, up until the very last chapter that Singer emotionally appeals to readers while stressing that just an emotional appeal is not enough

The most important thing I got from the book was the term "speciesism", which was first used by Dr. Richard Ryder, but popularized by Singer. So what is "speciesism"? You're correct, it's placing rights to a group on the basis of their species.

In the words of Dr. Ryder, "I use the word 'speciesism' describe the widespread discrimination that is practised by man against other species ... Speciesism is discrimination, and like all discrimination it overlooks or underestimates the similarities between the discriminator and those discriminated against."

In an everyday example that everyone has run across, people would get offended if they were said to be "equal" with animals; they even went as far as to say that "animals are inferior, there is no doubt about it." Right, because that is the same rationality people used to crusade laws suppressing civil rights for African Americans, and currently, the gay rights movement. If you have found yourself agreeing with that statement, I implore you to re-think your stance.

People have all had prejudices against each other, through race, age, sex, sexual orientation, cultural groups, and religious affiliation. Speciesism refers to not human-to-human prejudices, but human to non-human prejudices. Many times these prejudices are made unconsciously due to factors all around us. Why do marketers say "pork" and not "pig", "beef" and not "cow"? How about my favorite, "veal" instead of "muscular-atrophied baby cows"?


  1. I like this entry, though I have not read Peter Singer's book. I should read more into his thoughts on animal rights. I have a question for you: would you be ok with eating meat from animals that were raised organically and not harmed during their life?

  2. Sorry about the late response! I just posted that before leaving on vacation and just got back :)

    I checked my friend's iphone and saw your comment; not going to lie, your question made me think all throughout break because it is a difficult and complicated answer.

    Here's my answer for you:

    1) I will eat meat with reservation (when the situation calls for it, explained below)
    2) Limit meat intake (once a week)
    3) When purchasing meat, try to purchase meat from local/sustainable/organic farmers
    4) When conversation begins, inform others with facts on the nature of the American meat/fish industry and to make good, hearty, and healthy changes in diet(I refuse to blindly use emotional appeal- that shit don't work!!! Plus, even if people don't give up meat, at least I can help them make healthier food choices...we don't need charts from CDC to know what role obesity has on America...=___=;;)

    I will try to follow these to the best of my abilities, but a few points keep me from fully following it right now!

    First, as a college student right now, I don't have the liberty of time to always ensure what I eat follows my ideals. Convenience and time are big factors for me. I don't have a car either, so I don't have much of an opportunity to get what I want.

    Because I don't hold a job other than student, I don't feel comfortable buying expensive products with my parent's money (and they definitely won't understand why I would want to go vegetarian, much less spend 3-4x the price for what seems to be the "same" hunk of meat).

    Culturally, I feel inhibited because majority of Chinese people possess a culture that revolves around meals, in particular meals with hefty amounts of meat.

    If I refuse to eat meat (usually makes up majority of the dishes at the meal, or at least the dish the host is most proud of), it would be considered extremely rude and could really alienate the host or strain relations with my family.

    The Chinese as a whole don't care much for their people (at least the government doesn't), so obviously animals are cared for even less.

    The most famous and often exclusively so examples of cruelty are from the Cantonese (where Hong Kong is)region, where all sorts of exotics and delicacies emerged; very barbaric practices emerged, stemming from a combination of local action (meaning one butcher started, and everyone else followed), a lack of care for animals, and Chinese superstitions and myths.

    For example, one practice is placing a live monkey in the middle of the table. The restaurant drills around the head and takes off the cap of the skull (the monkey is screaming at this point), so businessmen can eat the brain of the monkey. The life of the monkey present freshness- no one wants to eat dead monkey (that could be bad luck, literally eating "Death").

    Canto region also eats lots of cats and dogs; to "tenderize" the meat, these animals are subjected to torture and beating so intense and humiliating that they eventually wind up too weak to fight. That is when the animal is deemed "ready" for consumption.

    Hong Kong, being the first city that Americans and westerners in general entered, is what started the conceptions that all Chinese ate dogs, and in turn, are dogs themselves; the truth is, all the other Chinese people make fun of the Cantonese with a saying, "Cantonese people eat anything that flies, swims, or crawls."

    Sorry if that was a little long! :)

  3. You know another point which I think you touched upon but didn't elaborate is how much eating meat affects the use of energy, obesity risks, etc. The lifestyle is also way more expensive than a vegetarian diet. I agree its so hard to give up entirely mainly because of all these external forces but I'm impressed that you have been able to cut back so much!