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Vegetarianism And Meat Eating In Food Culture

2010 words - 8 pages

Christopher McCandless, a young American who was found dead in summer of 1992 in wild land in Alaska, wrote in his diary about his moral struggle regarding killing a moose for survival. According to Jon Krakauer’s Into the Wild, Chris had to abandon most of the meat since he lacked the knowledge of how to dismantle and preserve it (166-168). Not only did he have a moral dilemma to kill a moose, but also had a deep regret that a life he had taken was wasted because of his own fault. He then started recognizing what he ate as a precious gift from the nature and called it “Holy Food” (Krakauer 168). Exploring relationships between human beings and other animals arouses many difficult questions: Which animals are humans allowed to eat and which ones are not? To which extent can humans govern other animals? For what purposes and on which principles can we kill other animals? Above all, what does it mean for humans to eat other animals? The answer may lie in its context. Since meat-eating has been included and remained in almost every food culture in the world throughout history and is more likely to increase in the future due to the mass production of meat, there is a very small chance for vegetarianism to become a mainstream food choice and it will remain that way.
There are some people who call themselves a vegetarian, but no one is born to be a vegetarian. They become a vegetarian afterwards with a notion of it. Wild carnivores such as lions and cheetahs hunt and eat other animals only when they are hungry or have to feed the meat to their children. In other words, they know exactly what to eat by instinct. On the other hand, human can eat not only meat but also non-meat. According to Katharine Milton, an anthropologist at the University of California, Berkeley, this is what made the human race evolve into socialized animals. She says that the vegetarian primates such as orangutans and gorillas are less social than the more omnivorous human-like chimpanzees probably because they had to solve their dietary problems from a variety of food options. For human, to master agriculture and trade about 10,000 years ago widely expanded their food options that enable modern human to become a vegetarian (Corliss). A vegetarian does not eat meat not only because it tastes bad, but also it means something to him or her. The more one has faith in vegetarianism, the more one restricts one’s food choice in reality. Henry David Thoreau, who is known as one of the first environmental writers of the 20th century in the U.S. and had lived in woods alone, writes in his essay Walden that hunting and eating animals had bothered him because it seemed as it degraded himself to a beast. For him, eating animals is “not agreeable to [his] imagination” (Thoreau 169) as Thoreau strongly believed that “to leave off eating animals” is “a part of the destiny of the human race” (Thoreau 170). While his belief and the reality he faced had conflicted each other, he tried his best to...

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