Why is it so hard to think straight about animals?
When I became first a vegetarian, then, 20 years later, a vegan, I remember one friend telling me that if my cat and I were trapped in a lifeboat, marooned without food or water, that I would certainly eat her. She couldn’t believe that I wouldn’t. I’m not evangelical about my veganism (you lose a lot of friends if you carp about the meat sizzling on the grill at barbeques) but the thought of eating my cat Bianca fills me with an atavistic horror. The very idea is beyond revolting.
Why are we, as a culture, so willing to eat some animals, while we’d never dream of eating others? Would we really chow down on our cats, make a kitten casserole? Of course not. We love our cats. Cats are “good” animals. As for the others, they’re either bad, like say, rattlesnakes, or edible, like cows. I posed this issue in my first novel, “Stolen: A Kieran Yeats Mystery”. One of my secondary characters is Helen Mikita, a lecturer in anthrozoology (as is Professor Herzog), who poses the kitten casserole question to her students and it makes for a lively debate. As it should.