60,000 Perish In Blaze

I try to be a compassionate person. Some things push my buttons, but for the most part, I consider myself to be pretty calm and level-headed. As a relatively new vegan (less than a year), I especially try to be compassionate with people who don’t understand the cruelty involved in their choice to eat animal product. How can I throw stones? As little as a year ago, I was eating chicken and fish and eggs and milk.

I firmly believe there is a need for reform in the food industry, and I would like to see a shift in the way people think about animals, and how they are treated. We don’t need to eat meat to survive, after all. I’ve been very hopeful that this is beginning to happen. There seem to be more and more stories about veganism, and the negative-environmental impacts of eating meat… “It’s just a matter of time,” I thought. “We’re well on our way…” And then I read this:

60,000 pounds of lobster lost in Boston fire.

That’s the title of a CNN story written last night. I understand that this fire is a big deal. The company has been in business since 1925 and the fire caused and estimated $5 million in damages. There were concerns that the pier might have been damaged or might collapse, and that other structures may have been damaged as well. It’s a big story for the Boston area.

My objection is to the title. “60,000 pounds of lobster.” As I skimmed through the other news sites, most of their titles focused on the loss of the business. CNN, a journalistic source I (mostly) respect, focused on the loss of the food. As if the tragedy here was the loss of the ~ 30,000 lobster dinners. And maybe there was no tragedy. No one was injured. It could have been horrific. Instead it’s just sad for the owners. Insurance will probably cover their losses, and since they’re an old established business, they can expect to keep most of their customer base. In the end, they’ll probably wind up with a better building and very little loss.

But what about the lobsters? If this were a pet store that went up in flames, there would have been discussion of the pain and suffering the dogs and cats endured before they finally expired. If humans had perished in the blaze, I would understand the fact that the author of this article ignored the plight of the lobsters; that would be a true tragedy. But none of that was the case. I don’t want to be overly melodramatic here. The only loss of life here was suffered by the lobsters — but 60,000 pounds of lobsters actually represent a significant number of living beings. Lobsters feel pain too!

We humans claim to be more evolved than the other animals on the planet, perhaps it is time that we start considering the pain and suffering they endure too. It might be time to consider the animals we eat as more than simply food, before its been processed and packaged and pressed into appetizing shapes and pieces. Or, better stated, it might be time to consider the pre-packaged chicken, turkey, beef, etc. we’re buying as an animal and not simply an ingredient in the next meal we are preparing.

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