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Part 1. Animals and Us: Reflections on Our Challenging, Frustrating, Confusing, and Deep Interrelationships with Other Animals

Marc Bekoff New World Library ePub

Reflections on Our Challenging, Frustrating, Confusing, and Deep Interrelationships with Other Animals

FROM TIME TO TIME, people ask me and the editors at Psychology Today why I write for them. I was astounded when these queries first came in, but I came to realize that it’s often not clear how the lives and emotions of animals relate to human psychology. In fact, our interactions with animals tell us a good deal about how we perceive ourselves, we who are also animals. Our interactions with animals run deep, and in very direct and pragmatic ways, these interactions affect both ourselves and the animals involved. Simply put, when we harm other animals, we hurt ourselves, and when we protect and nurture other animals, we heal ourselves. Whether we deny or recognize animal emotions and intelligence, this has real-world consequences for everyone. This is why I prefer using the word “interrelationships” rather than “relationships,” and why I prefer phrases like “other animals” and “nonhuman animals” rather than “animals,” as if humans were somehow separate from or not animals. In these ways I try to emphasize that all animal species share a continuum of being, which includes the way we feel and what we think.

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4: Trade in Meat

Phillips, C.J.C. CABI PDF

Trade in Meat

4

4.1  Introduction

Humans are not anatomically or physiologically designed to eat raw meat. The absence of elongated canine teeth makes tearing through raw meat difficult and the relatively high pH in our stomachs renders us susceptible to food poisoning if the flesh is at all contaminated. For our ancestors the infrequency of successful hunts would have made contamination of stored meat likely. However, their ability to master fire provided a method of processing meat to make it more easily consumed and less likely to be contaminated. Hence for as long as prehistoric records are available, meat consumption has been a part of the human diet. Our ancestors’ advanced ability to communicate facilitated complex hunting methods, luring animals into traps for example. Cave paintings suggest that there were ritual gatherings before the hunt, perhaps even with music and hallucinogenic drugs, which bonded the males together to improve their performance in the hunt.

Hunting for meat provided an alternative to the long process of gathering nutrients from plant life, which varied with climate and season and often required a nomadic lifestyle to follow the geographic availability of suitable plants. The nutrient demands for hunting, gathering and nomadism were considerable, and meat was able to provide the highly digestible food needed. Nevertheless, the risks involved and uncertainty in finding food meant that life was short, typically 25–40 years. With the coming of agriculture, and the development of improved plants, principally cereals, with higher seed yields, a settled way of life became possible and it was no longer necessary to hunt animals for meat. However, in colder parts of the world, particularly the northern parts of the northern hemisphere, meat consumption remained necessary because it could provide the nutrients needed, and in these regions crop growth was limited. Over the last 1000 years people from these regions came to colonize most of the rest of the world and the colonizers took their meat-eating habits with them. For example, the British colonies covered one-third of the world at the beginning of the 20th century,

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2: Trade Policies for Animal Products

Phillips, C.J.C. CABI PDF

Trade Policies for Animal

Products

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2.1  Development of Trade Policy

Trade is a natural activity for a species that is very social, highly communicative and mobile around the planet. Humans evolved as an opportunistic species, seeking out new environments to occupy. When the majority of the habitable areas of the planet had been colonized, several thousand years ago, humans naturally turned to trade to cement relations with people in occupied lands for mutual benefit. Through trade they could obtain goods that they could not produce or obtain at home, and in return they offered goods they were able to produce or could produce more easily, or economically, than those in the lands they visited.

Trade also developed relations between peoples of different cultures, allowing fringe benefits to be had through the cultural exchange that ensued. Inevitably, it required a degree of trust between the traders, concerning delayed payment for example, or the benign intent of visitors. In some cases trade was a smokescreen for an attempt to take over a region, and thus great caution was required on the part of the hosts for a visiting party.

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Part 5. Consciousness, Sentience, and Cognition: A Potpourri of Current Research on Flies, Fish, and Other Animals

Marc Bekoff New World Library ePub

A Potpourri of Current Research on Flies, Fish, and Other Animals

THIS IS AN INCREDIBLY EXCITING TIME to study the behavior of other animals. It seems like every day we’re learning more and more about the fascinating lives of other animals — how smart and clever they are and how they’re able to solve problems we never imagined they could. Here I consider a wide range of research on animals that shows clearly just how well-developed and amazing are their cognitive skills. A very few people continue to ignore what we really know about other animals, but they are in the vast minority. Here you can read about flies, bees, lizards, fish, a back-scratching dog, how climate change is influencing behavior, and why respected scientists are pondering the spiritual lives of animals.

However, before getting into this wonderful research on animal minds and consciousness, I start this part with an essay that tackles one of the main and enduring criticisms of such research and of my work in particular: anthropomorphism, or the attribution of human characteristics to non-human animals, objects, or events (such as when people talk about “nasty thunderstorms.” The charge of anthropomorphism is often used to bash ideas that other animals are emotional beings. Skeptics claim that dogs, for example, are merely acting “as if” they’re happy or sad, but they really aren’t; they might be feeling something we don’t know or feeling nothing at all. Skeptics propose, because we can’t know with absolute certainty the thoughts of another being, we should take the stance that we can’t know anything or even that consciousness in other animals doesn’t exist. For Psychology Today and elsewhere, I have written extensively about the “problem” of “being anthropomorphic.” For instance, see “Anthropomorphic Double-Talk” in my book The Emotional Lives of Animals (see Endnotes, page 335). In my opinion, there’s no way to avoid anthropomorphism. Even those who eschew anthropomorphism must make their arguments using anthropomorphic terms, and they often do so in self-serving ways. If a scientist says an animal is “happy,” no one questions it, but if the animal is described as sad or suffering, then charges of anthropomorphism are leveled. Scientists can accept and treat their own companion animals as if they feel love, affection, gratitude, and pain, and then deny these very emotions in the animals they use, and abuse, while conducting experiments in the lab.

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Part 9. Who We Eat Is a Moral Question

Marc Bekoff New World Library ePub

HUMANS PAY VERY CLOSE ATTENTION to the food they choose to eat. I call this a “moral question” because the animals who wind up in our mouth are sentient beings who quite often suffered enormously on the way to our stomach — either on factory farms and in slaughterhouses where they see, hear, and smell others get slaughtered, or when they’re writhing on the deck of a boat or a dock after they’ve been pulled from their watery homes. Animals aren’t objects. When I give lectures and very gently remind people that they’re eating formerly sentient beings, it often gets very quiet because we’re so accustomed to asking “What’s for dinner?” not “Who’s for dinner?” After these discussions I’ve had people tell me they’ll never eat animals again. I fully realize that our meal plans raise many difficult questions that we wish would just go away, but they won’t, and each of us needs to be responsible for the choices we make. It’s easy to show in a compassionate and gentle way how a vegetarian or vegan diet can work for just about everybody.

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