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Cognitive Dissonance at its Greatest: A Country of Pet Lovers and Meat Eaters

First thing, the most kind and intelligent people in my life purchase/consume animal products that have foreboding origins. And bottom line, a person’s choice of food, in my opinion, does not determine whether that person is a loving and compassion soul... it does, however, bring up a psychological and ethical paradox.[*][*][*]


American’s love their pets.
Last year alone, we spent over 14 billion dollars on pet services (not including vet care). There has been no time in history that has seen such a wide and growing variety of products and services for pets and pet parents.[*] 
American’s also love their meat (and cheese)….no other county in the world consumes more meat then America.[*]
With these statistics, I have to admit I am a bit confused by the logic of consuming/purchasing animal products (ex. meat, dairy, clothing) but still professing our beliefs against animal cruelty.
Is it that people are still truly in the dark when it comes to the origin and process of how their food got to their plate?
True, some Americans do choose to stop eating meat and/or dairy (or choose more humane origins such as local farmers) when they learn the extent that animals suffer for its production. However, an overwhelming majority do not. Recent research has illustrated that people keep eating meat by simply dampening their moral consideration of animals when sitting at the dinner table.[*]
Research explains that when there is a conflict between people's preferred way of thinking and their preferred way of acting, it is their thoughts and moral standards that people abandon first -- rather than changing their behavior.[*]
People may even employ the following when faced with their role as a consumer in the reality of the horrific conditions of industrialized meat/dairy:  

Denial - "Animals are treated fine.” “Animals don’t suffer.” “Human’s are superior.”

Minimization - "That's only the non-freerange animals."

Passive aggression- A general negative feeling towards people who don’t eat meat or eat locally farm raised meat.

Isolation - "The animals are nowhere near me and have nothing to do with me." “There is nothing I can do about it.”

Repression - Any guilt arising from having an active role in animal cruelty is avoided..

Humor - Making a joke out of the issue to avoid their own feelings about it.

This may be surprising to some, but animals raised for food in the US, in large part, are excluded from legal protection against cruelty.[*]
Specifically, 28 states have enacted laws that create a legal realm whereby certain acts, no matter how cruel, are deem ‘accepted’,‘common’, ‘customary’, and ‘normal’ farming practices. Of those states that do have anticruelty statues, they exclude poultry which represents approximate 95% of the 7 billion farm animals slaughtered annually.[*]

(I’m not going to drone on and on regarding what happens to these animals. I’ve seen it and I don’t care to rehash it. If you are truly curious then I suggest watching Earthlings or, the rated PG version, Peaceable Kingdom: The Journey Home)

So how do we go from abandoning our underlying principles of animal cruelty to changing our behavior? Could the answer be in an encompassing grasp on how much power the consumer has over this dilemma?  
With each meal, with each dollar – we truly cast our vote each and every day on whether we support animal cruelty or if we have enough balls and wherewithal to stand up against it.

“We patronize animals for their incompleteness, for their tragic fate of having taken form so far beneath ourselves. And therein we err, and greatly err. For the animal shall not be measured by man.

In a world older and more complex than ours they move finished and complete, gifted with extensions of the senses we have lost or never attained, living by voices we shall never hear. They are not brethren, they are not underlings; they are other nations, caught with ourselves in the net of life and time, fellow prisoners of the splendor and travail of the earth."

-Harry Beston 1888~1968

For those of you who are too afraid to witness how these animals come into this world, live, reproduce and die...just remember that they have to live through this violence each and every day, every minute and every second – and each of us has an active role in its progression (or cessation).  
Even more disturbing, in my opinion, is this cruelty is caused not because Americans are starving, naked, or without other means of enriching their lives, but rather - we simple enjoy a cheap double bacon cheeseburger or we like the feel of leather. Suffering caused for nothing more than fulfillment of sensual desire.
I understand, no one wants to see, experience or confront this violence…  watching an educational documentary on how animals are treated today in agriculture (such as "Earthlings") is hard to watch, but would be even harder to live.
To be honest, I never thought that I'd be the victim of such an impact. To the point that it would have such an immense influence on my health and spirituality.
For me, I SEVERELY underestimated how devastating the knowledge a movie like this imparts. I felt so mentally and emotionally exhausted after but also I felt an incredible sense of empowerment.
It lends an energy and purpose that tends to light a fire and push a person to be an integral part of ending the suffering.
On behalf of the billions and billions of animals who are suffering today, right this second...may your voice and actions be lent to them.

"Man's fate is like that of the animals; the same fate awaits them both: As one dies, so dies the other. All have the same breath; man has no advantage over the animal."

Ecclesiastes 3:19-20
… how is it that humanity has become so inhumane?
There is no NEED for this type of cruelty in today's society.
Everyone wants a better world, but few actually place the effort into modifying their behavior to BE the change to make that type of world. Be that change.

"You have just dined, and however scrupulously the slaughterhouse is concealed in the graceful distance of miles, there is complicity."

Ralph Waldo Emerson

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