Kenya: Vegetarian Mankind a Threat to Wildlife
- [opinion from AllAfrica.com]
Chicago forbade Foie de gras to be served in the city's restaurants.
This highly priced delicacy consists of sick goose liver resulting
from force feeding: stuffing the geese. The procedure is regarded as
The European Union has decided to phase out the pig slaughter
practices in the traditional eastern countries: the sticking with a
knife of the struggling animal, because of its gruesomeness.
Most countries regulate the manner of killing of animals and have laws
on the treatment of domestic species. Animals must be treated and
Bioethicists and animal rightists have sprung up to defend the animal
kingdom from man's merciless depredations. In law, animals cannot have
"rights" because animals are not persons. This does not mean that
mankind can treat them without consideration. Animals, mammals in
particular, are our nearest relatives and we are bound to treat them
with consideration and compassion. It is obvious that animals do
experience pain and discomfort and it is cruel and inhuman to ignore
Yet without coercing animals, putting them to work, breeding them
according to selected characteristics, humans would not have attained
the level of development they have - neither would they have without
the control of species that are detrimental to agriculture, storage
and civil engineering.
Radical animal rightists and bioethicists would like meat to be phased
out of human nutrition altogether and turn the population into
vegetarians. Such a policy would be disastrous at least in four
- It would make the fuel crisis and deforestation much worse, as
cooking vegetable matter, particularly fibrous plants, requires much
more energy than does the preparation of meat;
- It would divert time away from production, for cooking and eating
vegetables is more time consuming than the preparation of meat dishes
- It would lead to the disappearance of entire domestic breeds and
- It would create a nutritional crisis in many parts of the world,
leading to starvation, stunting and interference with brain
People, deprived of meat, will eat more carbohydrates and fats and
obesity, diabetes and their consequences will assume catastrophic
To try to change mankind into vegetarians simply because of compassion
with animals would be foolish. On the other hand, animals must be
treated better, husbanded with care. Their continuing supply must be
secured (this is most notably so with regard to fish and other edible
marine species which are depleted because of the "tragedy of the
commons": they do not belong to anyone).
To treat animals well is an obligation. To kill them with
circumspection is dictated by our own dignity. To eat them is not a
sin: for most of the world's population it is a necessity.
The writer is a retired surgeon and a former chairman of the East
African Wildlife Society
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