Animal mistreatment’s link to food-borne disease
With the current swine flu mortality counts climbing now to 195 in Egypt, 82 in Romania, 85 in Israel, 265 in France, and 355 in the United Kingdom, death tolls globally total at least 21,547, although actual cases and fatalities far exceed the ones confirmed. Meanwhile, a critically ill patient in Australia perished after being stricken with the country’s first case of antiviral-resistant swine flu.
As experts worldwide anxiously brace for a third wave of the pandemic, the question has been raised once more about the factors that cause such new contagions to emerge – namely the unimaginable filth and immobilizing, crowded, stressful conditions of modern animal farms. This and other aspects of the animals’ cruel treatment inevitably result in the development of bacterial infections and viral diseases such as the swine flu.
Although some countries attempt to ensure the welfare of farmed animals through inspections, experts such as Dr. Gary Steiner, a philosophy professor in the US whose animal ethics findings were highlighted recently in The New York Times, state that these practices could never justify the killing and consuming of animals in the first place.
Dr. Gary Steiner – Philosophy Professor, Vegan (M): If it's the case that most people don't need to eat or to use animals in order to lead a perfectly healthy lifestyle, let alone to survive, then there's no justification for inflicting the terrible harms like factory farming.
Through extensive historical research, Dr. Steiner found that traditional Western cultures have believed animals to be morally inferior to humans because they seem to lack rational abilities and intelligence.
Dr. Gary Steiner (M): The fact that there are people out there who are smarter than me doesn't mean that they're morally superior to me. And by the same token, the supposed fact that I'm somehow smarter than my cat, Pindar, has nothing to do with whether I have a right to use him or treat him like a toy or own him as property or anything like that. If we could agree that sentience, rather than cognitive ability, is really what's important as a criterion and for moral status, then I don't think there's any way that somebody could say that objectively my life matters more than Pindar’s. His life matters infinitely to him and mine matters infinitely to me.
And there's no getting outside of those two subjective standpoints for deciding how much one's life matters. So from square one, I think the first thing that we have is an obligation not to harm animals, not to exercise violence upon them. And the most straightforward way is to become vegan and to stay vegan.
We thank Dr. Steiner and The New York Times for sharing these views on our moral relationship and responsibility to other species. As we pray for the victims of the animal-borne swine flu pandemic, let us all step toward the lifesaving vegan fare for the restored vitality and peace of all beings.