Who Did You Have For Breakfast?

Speciesism is the assignment of different values to other living things and lies at the heart of racial prejudice, where one person or group thinks it is superior to another. In order for speciesim to be successful, it must reduce another to a “thing” or a “them.”When we label others as something different, they have less value to us, and as such, are easier to abuse or neglect.

Sometimes speciesim is intentional. The military uses this tactic all the time to make the enemy appear of lesser value than a fellow soldier, the idea being you will have less apprehension about killing or wounding “them” because they are inferior to you. In the Gulf War, the enemy were referred to as “rag heads” because of the turbans Middle Easterners wore. Gooks was a term used to describe enemies of Asian descent. And of course there is the “N” word that is unfortunately still all too prevalent today.

Factory farm operations, intentional or otherwise, similarly reduce the status of animals by simply referring to them as cows, pigs and chickens, “them.” Back when there were traditional farmers, animals usually had names, or at least the owners could recognize one chicken from another. For the most part, those days are long gone. Nameless, defenseless, mere numbers and “things” is what the modern farming industry now uses to identify its product. And they hope you will adopt this language too..

What did you have for breakfast? You may call it bacon, but it came from a pig, something most of us know, but don’t really think about, or maybe think about but don’t want to. That pig had a personality. It had a mother. It belonged to a social group. Far from being a “thing,” it was a beautiful creature that lived a horrible life to become your breakfast. Did you even give thanks?

We need to stop thinking about others, including animals, as “things,” and instead recognize them for the unique, individual beings they are. Who did you have for breakfast? Please think about it.

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