This is quick and dirty... I wanted to direct you to a couple of links while I'm thinking of it. The post may be haphazard, but I think this is one of the most important issues we as a species will be dealing with in the next several years.
Let me make a crude connection here, and leave it for you to investigate if you wish.
First, here's One of Us, a very good article on what's being done in the area of animal consciousness research.
Next, I want to direct you back once again to Food and Consciousness: An Interview with Erin Wilson, wherein our good friend shares with us her insights on food and eating.
Finally, here is a fascinating interview between Andrew Cohen and Dr. Melanie Joy, author of Why We Love Dogs, Eat Pigs, and Wear Cows. Dr. Joy has done "pioneering research into the deeper cultural and psychological dimensions of our food choices. In her groundbreaking book, Dr. Joy explores the invisible system that shapes our perception of the meat we eat, so that we love some animals and eat others without knowing why. She calls this system “carnism,” which she defines as the belief system, or ideology, that allows us to eat some animals while having deep and loving relationships with others."
This to me is particularly interesting given the recent uproar over the horse/beef issues in Europe. It's OK to eat a cow, but not a horse. Why? Is it just that we thought it was beef and found out it wasn't, so the deception is the issue? I don't think that's it.
In my pre-ramble to Erin's interview I had this to say (and now you know where I came up with this line):
I'm coming to think that we're all connected. Not just all people, but all Creation. I'm also starting to think that just about everything has some level of consciousness. Something that connects us all to the Source. If that is the case, then why do we eat some animals, clothe ourselves in the skin of others, and let yet others kiss us on the lips and live in our houses? That strikes me as blatantly inconsistent, to say the least.
Here, in a nutshell, is my theory:
Animals have consciousness. If this is true, I need to rethink my attitudes toward them, and my eating habits. I believe we as human beings had to get to a certain point in our own evolution of consciousness to recognize that other creatures are conscious too. And most interesting to me, we are arriving at that point now, when we have so many other nutritional options, and also when our "need for meat" is contributing to climate change and other potentially catastrophic problems on the planet.
One last thought: This question of "How then shall we live?" just keeps coming up...
Carry on, and let me know what you think of all this.