"As often as Herman had witnessed the slaughter of animals and fish, he always had the same thought: in their behavior toward creatures, all man were Nazis. The smugness with which man could do with other species as he pleased exemplified the most extreme racist theories, the principle that might is right."
In this passage, Nobel laureate Isaac Bashevis Singer gets right to the heart of the connection between violence against animals and violence among people: the principle that might makes right. Even people who are pacifist in every other aspect of life will condone violence against animals with no better justification than "because we want to and we can."
Killing in self-defense is one thing; killing for pleasure is another. As every happy vegan demonstrates, people do not need to eat meat to be healthy. As long as one has access to other sources of protein, then one cannot claim to be killing in self-defense when one eats meat.
In the United States, families consume far more meat than could ever be considered necessary by any reasonable standard. Indeed, many meat items are snack foods rather than meals. In the United States, we also have an epidemic of violence among young people.
When we encourage our children to eat the wings of dead birds as a snack, we are teaching them that that it is okay to kill for pleasure. Is it any wonder that some children put that lesson into action in the classroom?
When we torture and kill animals so that we can have snack foods, we are doing something to the body of a non-consenting creature in order to obtain pleasure for ourselves. The same dynamic is involved in the sexual abuse of children. In both cases, the wishes of the victim are ignored while the desires of the perpetrator are paramount. In both cases, the only "justification" is that might makes right.
A different, more subtle, form of child abuse occurs every time a child's natural empathy for animals is supressed by parents or care givers who demand that the child eat meat. When the crying child who does not want to eat a cow or a pig is forced to swallow those tears along with the dinner, real damage is done. Psychologist Alice Miller has shown that children who have been taught not to feel empathy grow up to be adults who can follow the orders of Nazis. Thus, in forcing children to participate in violence against animals, parents endanger not only their children but the world.
Eating for peace
Karen Davis explains philosophical vegetarianism
Terrorism and Cannibalism
Vandana Shiva makes the connection between agricultural and interpersonal violence
Jim Mason explores the deep roots of human violence against nature and animals
Violence and Agriculture
Albert E. Krebs shows that war is linked to agricultural violence
Statistics prove the link between animal abuse and interpersonal violence
No War for Animals
Pattrice Jones urges animal liberationists to be peace activists
Animal Liberation and Social Revolution
"Vegananarchist" manifesto includes a chapter on violence
Afghanistan: Epicentre of Tragedy
Marinella Correggia deplores war against people, animals, and nature