Animal Rights

Why Love One Animal and Eat The Other?

| by StephenVantassel

While in Denver, Colorado, in mid-October, I saw a billboard that said, “Why love one and eat the other?” You can see the sign at Mercy for Animals. It shows a picture of a dog and a pig.  It is an ingenious marketing ploy. But as usual, it is yet another example of how animal rights protest industry advocates miss the point.

I surmise that animal rights activists want to argue that a dog is morally equivalent to a pig. If it is wrong to eat a dog, then it should be wrong to eat a pig. In one sense they are correct. A pig is of no lesser moral value than a dog. Both are created by God and both have been given to humanity to manage, protect, and use in the service of Christ.

In light of that fact, the only reason why Americans don’t put dogs on the menu is because of a cultural bias. All cultures have foods that are unique to them (those that are prized and loved) and foods that they think are disgusting (taboo). For example, certain tribes will relish various insects that Americans would gag at the mere thought of eating. It's not that Americans are more civilized or moral, it is just that our culture has not valued certain insects. The same can be said for dog. We don't eat dog because our culture values dogs as pets rather than as food. It is a completely arbitrary decision. I like chocolate, you like vanilla.

This is why I contend that the point Christians should take away from the animal rights billboard is to understand that eating a dog is morally equivalent to eating a pig. God says we are free to eat both. If you condemn eating dogs, then perhaps the reason for your opinion stems from a cultural bigotry that you haven’t repented of. [I am amazed at why people have not criticized animal rights groups for exploiting cultural bigotry in their sign but I digress]. I understand that Koreans eat dogs. I say, so what? What is wrong with eating dogs? But more importantly, God says, so what. Of course, I am not referring to eating a dog that is owned by someone else. That would be theft. But there is no moral problem (as far as God is concerned) to raise a dog and then eat him any more than there is for a farmer to raise a pig, or a chicken and eat that. If you think there is a problem with that, then you should take up your problem with Jesus who had declared all foods clean (Mk 7:19; Rom 14). Remember, what we eat is determined by culture. Christ wants us to avoid cultural bigotry when it comes to diet.

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So I guess I must thank the animal rights activists for helping to expose the dietary bigotry in our culture. I just come to a conclusion diametrically opposed to theirs. Where they want to condemn eating animals, I think we should reduce our bias and be more accepting of the foods in other cultures.