Responding to a Pig Roast #4
"People have been raising and slaughtering animals for generations. Would early pioneers in Canada have been able to survive
without husbandry?" asks Daniel Pearce rhetorically in a thoughtful editorial ("Sinful Dining,"
Possibly not. And neither would people have survived without eating the flesh of
their dead human companions in several well-known disaster cases.
The point of ethical eating (let's bypass the "v" words) is
to eat as low on the food- and feeling (sentience) chain as one needs to survive and be healthy
- and yes, to enjoy one's diet, as we ex-omnivores typically do. (Ethical eating also includes consideration of the welfare of all
concerned, from the people who farm the land to the land itself.)
This is the moral question that conscientious Canadians, regardless of their
religion or lack thereof, must face - not as cave men, or animal-sacrificing
tribespeople, or early Canadian settlers, but as moral and responsible 21st-century homo sapiens/homo sympaticens living in a
land of plenty where, for most or all of us, there is no longer any reason for animals to suffer and die so
we may survive.
That may seem a daunting prescription. But the least we can do is avoid
factory-farmed animal products and eat as little as we possibly can of our fellow
breathing, feeling creatures. Better yet, we can dare to eat none at all and
see if we still "survive." Some ten million North Americans do, and that includes vegetarian Seventh Day
Adventists whom research shows are healthier and longer-lived than nonvegetarian Adventists who are
healthier than average as it is.
Do we really need duelling biblical verses to sort this out for us?
Article being responded to:
In the past, Norfolk residents have been lambasted for hanging on to old-fashioned rural traditions considered
by the rest of the (supposedly) more advanced world to be outdated. A decade ago in Simcoe, there was the
minstrel show fiasco, admittedly an embarrassment. There's also the lingering question of the Port Dover
Lions stag, which features strippers. And we've been told that maybe growing
tobacco isn't such a good idea.
Now, however, political correctness has taken criticism of
our heritage to a new level. The Bloomsburg Baptist Church recently received a letter from an organization in
Virginia objecting to the church's annual pig roast on Sunday. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals
insists that the "violent and bloody" roasting of a pig is inappropriate for
a church, which "is supposed to be a centre of compassion." There is a case to be made for
vegetarianism. Cutting out or even cutting down on meat will generally make you healthier.
The moral issues are a little more complicated. People have been raising and slaughtering animals for
generations. Would early pioneers in Canada have been able to survive without
The other side of the argument is not to be ignored either.
Philosophers have pointed out that the humane treatment of animals is the first threshold in human rights, and should
be protected. There is a thin line, they insist, between the ill-treatment of animals and humans. For example, it was a
humane society that many years ago advocated in a New York City courtroom on behalf of a neglected child. The girl, the
society argued, was an animal and therefore deserved equal protection under the law. It was legal advocacy for animals
that paved the way for today's children's aid societies.
Both sides of the PETA-Bloomsburg debate, meanwhile, are citing scriptures to defend their position. Bruce Friedrich
of PETA has referred to Genesis I, which says God's ideal is for a world where animals are not exploited and every living
being, person or animal, is a vegetarian. Rev. Allan Burr has countered that Christ and the apostles dined on lamb
during The Last Supper and that in Exodus XII, God orders the people of Egypt to sacrifice a goat or a lamb and to put
the blood on door frames in the formation of a cross - and, by the way, to eat the meat.
Friedrich has responded that no matter which scripture is quoted, a pig roast is plain mean-spirited. Animals are
inhumanely treated at a slaughterhouse, he says. All this
for the "gluttonous palate preference that makes us fat and lethargic, and that's a sin."
So how did this organization latch on to the barbecue in
Bloomsburg anyway? Friedrich says they received a "small army of e-mails" on the matter. What this proves
again is that Norfolk consists of two conflicting cultures - one that embraces our rural past, and another that bristles
righteously at the slightest transgression to its urban way of thinking. Usually, when the two sides spar, the fight is
The Bloomsburg Baptist Church has turned down PETA's offer
of free vegetarian hotdogs and its request to change the menu. On Sunday, the congregation will roast a pig, dig in,
and enjoy. Norfolk is known for bucking modern trends and thumbing its nose to modernity. For better or for worse,
rural tradition is about to win the first round in this latest battle.
- DANIEL PEARCE