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Toner 1 Nick Toner Instructor Stefan Britt ENG 111 2014 February 5

Friend or Food? There is a member of my social circle that does not particularly like the fact that the rest of us often go waterfowl hunting together. He always makes snide comments and tries to stand up for those poor defenseless ducks. We all acknowledge his stance, and he usually drops the subject until our next trip of course when the conversation resurfaces and Im left asking him the reoccurring question: what are we as humans? His generally unchanging response is that we are animals. I try to get him to draw the parallel between humans as animals and his English bulldog Dewey whom he would never look down upon for his naturally carnivorous ways. At this point, I feel that hes been sufficiently primed for the big question: do you suppose there are ducks in that defenseless flock that would choose not to hunt for fish? To date, he has never clearly answered the question if he even makes an attempt. This is usually the point when we laugh it off, and continue with our day. I am, however, left with a sense that he doesnt understand the hypocrisy of his own opinion about the subject. There, likely, is no animal that has to rely on other animals for sustenance that then chooses not to hunt or eat them. We are, after all, just animals acting like animals. We obviously have more complex abilities to think, reason, feel emotions, and even have the ability to domesticate other animals for companions but I believe that we carry this most primal nature with us. We are basically just another animal that relies on animals to nourish us and our children for growth and survival. Why do some think of this basic instinct that we share with

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lions, tigers, bears, and even ducks as an abomination, or to paraphrase the professor of philosophy at Bucknell University Mr. Gary Steiner, as mass murder? To say, however, that my friend and Mr. Steiner are cut from the same cloth would be a mistake. Steiner describes in his article Animal, Vegetable, Miserable that he is far more extreme. My aforementioned friend is only against the hunting of animals. Steiner not only shares his beliefs; he is adamant that we are in the wrong to eat, or use animals as any type of resource. He argues, the simple answer is that most people just dont care about the lives or fortunes of animals (Steiner 6). Now to say that my friend and I eat animals because we dont care about them is rather distasteful and offensive and should be to all of those who dont adhere to a strictly vegan existence like he. Not only do our eating habits disturb Steiner. Our existence in his world is a burden for him. He goes on to say you just havent lived until youve tried to function as a strict vegan in a meat-crazed society. What were once the most straightforward activities become a constant ordeal (Steiner 6). Most people, and I use the term as he did previously, would just think that it is his own fault for having to deal with such a difficult time. I wonder whether the idea ever occurred to him that if the act of existing was a never-ending struggle, which perhaps he is fighting against his own nature, which is so engrained our species. I dont know whether this statement was intended to make the reader feel worse about ourselves or sorry for him. In my estimation, it accomplished neither of those goals. I do recognize that the human race is not a particularly kind race, and Steiner claims that we as humans today only use non-human animals as resources. I think this is where I come the closest to finding some agreement with his point of view. I can see that it is a tendency of human society to use many things only as a type of resource. We use our fellow humans to fulfill

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our basic need for belonging and love. We use the resources of the earth to provide us with shelter and warmth. Humans are a species that by our very nature are unable to survive without using something or someone else for survival. I dont consider this to be selfish or uncaring; again, it is about doing what needs to be done to maintain our existence. I find that his most hypocritical argument comes when he describes the many ways aside from strictly food that we use animals. He lists that they are not only for food, but as beast of burden, as raw materials and as sources of captive entertainment (Steiner 7). I find it laughable that the author then goes on to describe his relationship with his cat. He attempts to justify it by saying the fact that my cat cant appreciate Schuberts late symphonies and cant preform syllogistic logic does not mean I am entitled to use him as an organic toy (Steiner 7). The cat is likely not choosing to be in his possession. I highly doubt that he leaves the door to his home open at all times just in case his pet decides to buck the domesticated life and head out on his own. I am sure the cat, like many other pet cats in the world, has no real choice over its menu, where it sleeps, or where or whether it travels. The cat is there as a form of personal entertainment, or maybe just as a companion. He may not treat it like other people treat their cats. He could certainly be the best cat owner on the planet. The question still remains whether he chooses the cat to be a companion, or whether the cat chooses him? I would imagine that it is not the latter. Steiner admits to knowing only five other strict vegans. With our greater power to reason, shouldnt most of us be vegan? How can his chosen way of living be the best or most natural if hes only ever encountered five other people in this world who share his extremism? I think that something needs to be said for a worldwide collective of intelligence that

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has not caught on to his lifestyle. If claims are going to be made about the rightness and wrongness of an entire species, shouldnt the sample group include more than five members? His most offensive and selfish stance held in the article is as follows, let me be candid: by and large, meat eaters are a self-righteous bunch (Steiner 7). According to the MerriamWebster dictionary, the definition of self-righteous is having or showing a strong belief that your own actions, opinions, etc., are right and other peoples are wrong. Im not sure it would be possible for an article to embody the definition of that word he so liberally applies to the majority of society than Animal, Vegetable, Miserable. I encourage others to have different opinions than I do like my anti-hunting friend. We have a debate, state our points, agree to disagree and move on. Do I think he is a terrible person and essentially a scourge of society because he chooses not to hunt? Certainly not. I think what we have here with Steiner is a case of the sanctimonious pot calling the kettle black. People who keep animals for entertainment are terrible, except for him. People who use other things to satisfy their basic needs are disgusting, except for him. People who believe theirs is the one true way and expect everyone else to fall in line are self-righteous, except for him. Thats pretty miserable.

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Works Cited "Self-righteous." Merriam-Webster.com. Merriam-Webster, 2011.Web. 1 February 2014.

Steiner, Gary. "Animal, Vegetable, Miserable." Exploring Relationships: Globalization and Learning in the 21st Century. Boston: Pearson Learning Solutions, 2013. 5-7. Print.