Animalistic vs. Humane vs. Machinistic: A Conversation with my husband about ethical eating


Fresh Fish @ Pike's Place Market

While conversing over dinner about ethical eating options and all of the  disgusting fascinating things that I am learning about the food system and my own eating habits, I used the word “humane,” in relation to what I am hoping for somehow in the new choices I’m making. And he looked at me and said,

“hmm, that’s an interesting word choice. Humane. We wouldn’t use that in relation to other people, just animals.”

Knowing him long enough now, I realized he wasn’t looking for a fight, just merely observing the word choice I had used. And so, rather than get defensive (like I would have done a few years ago), I went down his rabbit trail, replying:

“Well, in the animal kingdom they go for the jugular. They aim to kill, but don’t seem to create elaborate systems of destruction in order to get their dinner. Humane is like getting back to the compassionate, empathetic heart of who we are as people, with frontal lobes. It’s not just reactionary like animals, but it’s like being an animal with a heart.”

As I was talking it just started spilling out, and I kept talking it then he said:

“It’s interesting that the further away we get from being, oh, say, Neanderthals, the less humane we seem to get.”

And I replied,

“Well, I think that’s because we’re heading away from the animalistic-with-empathy and heading toward the machine. I mean, if you think about it, we’re machinistic now. They even say it’s a factory farm, and everything is mechanized and it is taking the soul away from it. It’s about conveyor belts and technology and more-more-more-more-MORE. We’re becoming machines.”

I hadn’t really thought of it like that before, at least not aloud, but it made a lot of sense to me. But I don’t want to be a machine. I want to be human, treat things humanely.

But I’m not giving up technology. I just don’t want to get eaten by it.

Frosty Day

Thoughts?

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2 Comments

  1. I have really been enjoying your journey with food recently and this post seems especially poignant. I think you have hit the Orwellian nail on the head! As we become more evolved, we do seem to be getting less human. Our culture has made hideous violence entertainment and food production so processed and mechanized that it’s a wonder children can even equate fruit, meat and vegetables with their natural state!
    I really admire you stoicism

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