You can often hear these words: “When our ancestors began to eat red meat, the human brain began to grow. Hunting taught us to think. Red meat is part of the diet of the most advanced species on the planet. Meat-eating is an instinct. We must eat meat.”
They tell us all this, it seems, from elementary school. We are told that eating meat is an important step in our evolution as a species, that eating meat means living up to our place in the food chain.
But the meat we eat today is the meat of animals raised on farms and slaughtered in slaughterhouses. And this meat is served directly to our hands, sliced and seasoned with parsley, lies in neat packages on the shelves in supermarkets, put in buns at fast food outlets.
Today’s meat has little in common with the meat that our ancestors obtained by hunting, and the modern processes of turning a living animal into a piece of meat are completely different from how it used to be.
However, in public discourse, connotations of hunting, evolution, and mastery over nature are still inextricably linked to meat consumption.
All of this meat-eating talk is tied to the concept of “human exclusivity,” in which humans are superior to all other living beings.
People are sure that eating animals is right, but animals eating us is not. However, for a long period in human history, humans were mid-range predators. Until recently, we were creatures that were both predators and prey – if we were, they also ate us.
Our culture suppresses this fact in every possible way, and you can see it in different things.
The sharp reaction to cases when predatory animals dare to treat a person like meat is one example of this suppression – we are amazed at the very fact that a human life can be ended in this way.
Another example is how we separate ourselves from the reality of our food’s origins: animal meat is often offered to us in altered forms such as minced meat, sausages, and clean, white, bled chicken breast.
Farm animals – both their lives and their inevitable deaths – are removed from our view. The increased invisibility of the animals we use for food is due to cruel industrial farming practices.
И, наконец, еще один пример – это то, как мы поступаем с человеческими трупами. Даже человеческая смерть скрыта от всего мира в больницах, и мы не можем стать пищей для червей, если умрем «естественным образом». Вместо этого трупы сжигаются, забальзамируются или, по крайней мере, хоронятся в земле, которая нисколько не связана с производством продуктов питания. Таким образом, люди не могут стать источниками удобрений, и наши связи с пищевой цепью разрываются.
Возможно, именно поэтому современный человек борется за поиски смысла и против смерти. В книге постгуманистического философа Донны Харрауэй «Когда встречаются виды» делается попытка принять и поставить на передний план нашу связь с другими живыми существами, и это идет вразрез с тенденцией людей думать о собственной жизни как о единственно важной и значимой.
Remembering that we are part of nature, we must also remember that someday we will die. However, we must also remember that from death, new life is inevitably born. And even if it is not human, without it there would be no us.