Society of Ethical and Religious Vegetarians

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Responding to a Pig Roast #4

Dear Editor: 

"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," Aug. 8).  

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? 

Syd Baumel

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Article being responded to:

Sinful dining

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for hanging on to old-fashioned rural traditions considered by the rest of the (supposedly) more advanced world to be outdated.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 husbandry?

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 ugly.

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


 

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