The other day I saw a man walking down the street carrying a dead chicken. It’s not uncommon to see that here, they do it casually like people carrying grocery bags. When you see it for the first time, you might think “eek!” like I did. But is carrying a grocery bag with packaged chicken in it much better?
I think it’s worse.
We’re so disconnected from our food nowadays that we often don’t even think about where it came from. When people cringe at seeing farm animals get slaughtered, but then continue to eat their nicely packaged meat from the refrigerated section, society needs a wake-up call.
I’ve been thinking about meat a lot lately because it’s in many Senegalese dishes. I had a conversation with my Senegalese co-workers the other day who were telling me about the different Islamic sects and what they can/can’t eat (the majority of people here are Muslim). They mentioned that some can eat horse, while others can’t.
“Horse!?” I thought.
We talked about how some people around the world eat dog, cat, donkey; the list goes on.
It’s so ironic that Westerners often look with disgust at people who eat animals they would consider “pets” while continuing to eat their beef, pork, chicken, etc. I’m guilty of this too! I’m not telling you to stop eating meat, but I think it’s important to think about what exactly went into making that burger, and what difference would it make if it was dog? We have no reason to judge other cultures on what they eat just because we choose to treat certain animals differently.
In many developing countries, they don’t have the cruel factory farms like we do in the US. If someone eats chicken, the chicken was most likely roaming free until it was killed because someone wanted to eat it (in some villages meat is only eaten on special occasions, usually followed by a prayer giving thanks for it). The chicken here is not cooped up in confinement with thousands of others and pumped with antibiotics and growth hormones before being slaughtered on an assembly line.
Whether you choose to eat meat or not, know that there really isn’t much moral difference between eating a pig or eating a dog. Our moral lenses are just fogged up by our cultural norms, so just because we see things a certain way doesn’t mean the whole world has to do the same. And it definitely doesn’t mean we’re not the strange ones.