how you treat animals

             Mahatma Gandhi said "The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated."  He has a point.

            More of us need to know how the majority of animals raised for human consumption is treated - it's dreadful, and maybe this term isn't even strong enough (read Jonathan Safran Foer's Eating Animals if you really want to know more).  It also says something about us that pharmaceuticals are tested on animals kept in captivity and subjected to potentially harmful side effects.  And that kill shelters exist is a horror.  Betta fish are routinely kept in solitary confinement in minuscule bubble tanks.  Thank goodness big game hunting is on its way out, the ivory trade also (they kill the whole huge elephant just for the tusks and don't even bother eating the meat), almost, and shark fin soup popularity is down (see an earlier post on that).  But people still wear fur coats and the Chinese still illegally trade animal parts they believe have healing properties.  Nevertheless, zoos treat animals much better nowadays than say a hundred years ago, providing them with habitats that resemble the places they came from, diets as close to their natural diets as possible, and distraction and exercise in enclosures that are much smaller than their natural territory.

            I believe that we are unable to harm an animal once we look it deeply in the eyes - because then we connect with its soul.  When animals are kept in pens under anonymous conditions we don't connect with each one individually.    That's why people have no qualms about eating supermarket meat.  If we all had to look our steak in the eyes, work in a kill shelter, spend a week in a slaughterhouse or a pharmaceutical animal testing lab things would change very very quickly.