For Feathered Friends
Like many people, I enjoy and appreciate the beauty and antics of birds. I watch the Cal Falcons nest cam each spring, marveling in the rapid growth of peregrine falcon chicks from hatching to fledging. I put peanuts out on our San Francisco balcony to attract wild crows. I watch videos of kookaburras in Australia and albatrosses in New Zealand.
So I was dismayed to read this morning a story about Faye, a beloved swan from the village of Manilus, New York. Last week, Faye and her four cygnets were allegedly abducted by three teenagers, who killed and ate the mother swan. (Her children survived.) Community members were horrified, and the suspects were arrested and charged with grand larceny and criminal mischief.
As a compassionate human being I find the alleged actions of these teens cruel and unnecessary. But as a vegan, I can’t help but think about the billions of other birds who are killed and eaten every year. The deaths of these chickens, turkeys, ducks, and other fowl don’t make national headlines, because eating their flesh and eggs is considered perfectly normal.
Why is this so? Why is it morally acceptable to deem some bird species worthy of protection and admiration while dooming others to the dinner table? Is it intelligence? Beauty? Or just long-established habit?
Regardless of intelligence or appearance, all birds, like other animals, experience pain, pleasure, fear, and joy. Like other animals, they do not and cannot consent to being raised and killed for human consumption. They suffer whether they are raised in “factory farms”, so-called “free-range” or “humane” farms, or in backyards. And they are killed whether they are raised for their flesh or their eggs.
My wish to minimize my part in this suffering and death is why I do not eat the flesh, eggs, or milk of any animal. Animals’ bodies belong to them and them alone.