Friday food for thought quote: our varying attitudes towards animals, from James Serpell

With the hot discussion this week about the wholesale dog breeding facility approved for Gorham, NY (or as it’s otherwise known, a puppy mill), I thought this quote might provide someting to ponder on this weekend regarding the different way we view animals we eat and animals we live with, and how that differs around the world. It’s from the preface to James Serpell’s very thought-provoking book, In the Company of Animals: A Study of Human-Animal Relationships:

“Human attitudes to animals often appear extraordinarily variable and artibrary. Consider just two examples. In India the cow is sacred, and its slaughter and consumption are taboo. As a result, cows wander around and proliferate unmolested in a society where humans regularly die from lack of food. Conversely, in Europe and North America, where people enjoy exceptionally high living standards, cows are treated for the most part like walking milk bars or hamburgers on legs. The domestic dog, meanwhile, has become the Western equivalent of the sacred cow. Dogs are cherished and nurtured as man’s best friend, and the idea of killing and eating one is virtually unthinkable. Yes, throughout much of the Near East dogs are reviled as symbols of all that is filthy and degraded, while in China, Korea and the Philippines they are cooked and devoured with enthusiasm.”

- James Serpell, In The Company of Animals


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