What kills an animal named
Are we allowed to use and kill animals?
A dispute between the philosopher and animal rights activist Hilal Sezgin and the president of the Westphalian-Lippe rural women’s association, Regina Selhorst.
Farm animals have been with people for many thousands of years. They provide meat, milk, wool, eggs, are used as draft animals, pack animals and mounts or as guard dogs and guard dogs. And people eat meat even longer. Why is that suddenly problematic?
Sezgin: For a long time people couldn't exist any other way. Today we no longer need animals as workhorses or as a source of food. This raises new questions: Are we allowed to use other sentient beings, lock them up, take their children away from them, amputate parts of their bodies and finally kill them violently? I mean no. In the end, farm animals are always slaughtered - including laying hens and dairy cows. It makes no difference whether we only use milk and eggs or whether we also use the meat.
Ms. Selhorst, can you understand the argument?
Selhorst: In no way. My understanding of animal husbandry is completely different. The farm animals are born to serve people, to provide them with healthy and safe food. I also believe that laying hens and dairy cows are slaughtered at the end of the day as a matter of care. If we did not do this, the animals would suffer until they may perish in agony from old age.
Sezgin: If that's true, you would do people a favor by not letting them grow old.
Selhorst: I make a very big difference between animals and people! People help each other, animals let themselves down. They have no awareness of helping the other animal.
Sezgin: We do not have the right to divide living beings into categories of use. And animals are not objects. You feel sadness, pain, or boredom. That is why they cannot be harmed without a reason.
Selhorst: That goes without saying for me. Of course we mustn't cause pain to animals. We are even obliged to help them, e.g. B. when they are sick.
Sezgin: But the animals suffer when they are slaughtered or when they are taken away from their mother as piglets or calves. This is great stress for the animals.
Selhorst: I see it completely differently. The farmers and butchers treat the animals as gently as possible because they know that the stress affects the health of the animals and the quality of the meat.
The real question is: Do animals have their own rights?
Sezgin: Only people who understand rights can grant and observe them. But even a pain-sensitive living being has a right not to be inflicted with pain. It has a right to be able to live out its life unhindered. We humans have to pay attention to that. Out in nature between wolf and deer, this concept doesn't make sense because the wolf doesn't understand any rights.
Selhorst: I make a very clear distinction between animal and human rights. Animals have the right to be treated appropriately. We are not allowed to humanize animals. Animals have a right to food and an environment in which they feel comfortable. But they don't have the right to be treated as human.
Sezgin: But you have the right to behave appropriately. Domestic pigs behave like wild boars if you let them. Then they would spend 75% of their waking hours digging. You would wallow and much more. They cannot do that in our stables and therefore they have no animal and species-appropriate life.
This is where Ms. Sezgin's criticism comes through that your pigs may not be doing well in the barn. When are your pigs happy?
Selhorst: I know that very well. When they look at me with keen eyes, when their fur is smooth and their ears stand up, when they nibble curiously on my boots, when they snuggle up close and stretch out comfortably.
Is that so different from your sheep, Ms. Sezgin?
Sezgin: I think so. My sheep can move around freely, they can attend to all their needs on their 2 hectare pasture with trees and bushes. At Frau Selhorst's, the pigs only have their toys. This is a compensatory measure because the slatted floor does not allow anything else. I am sure that my sheep, with their social relationships that have grown over the years, will have a better life than Mrs. Selhorst's pigs.
Selhorst: Objection! How do you know? Just because our pigs are not out in nature does not automatically mean that they are worse off.
Your sheep's habitat also ends at the pasture fence.
Sezgin: Of course. But I'm not allowed to just run into the neighbour's garden either. But my sheep do not have to serve any foreign interests, they are not subjected to any violence or arbitrariness.
Do the animals feel something like happiness and joie de vivre?
Sezgin: Absolutely. You can z. For example, watch when the sheep hunt across the pasture out of pure joy of life. Perhaps they are not necessarily euphoric about ruminating, but at least they are satisfied. In any case, they have sensations. That's why you can't just kill an animal.
Selhorst: I clearly attribute joy of life and happiness to people. As I understand it, an animal can be content, but not happy. This is a condition that we humans interpret into the behavior of an animal.
Sezgin: But the dog is happy when it sees its owner again.
Selhorst: Because there is an intense social relationship. That has nothing to do with joy of life and happiness. It is a natural behavior.
The major world religions, Christianity, Islam and Judaism, allow animals to be used and meat to be consumed, provided that special rules are observed and the products e.g. B. are halal or kosher. Isn't that an ethical and moral cue that the use and killing of animals is permitted?
Sezgin: You have to see that in the context of the time. At that time, animals were an essential part of food. It is therefore not surprising that religion does not forbid the use and killing of animals. At the same time, there are references in the Koran and in the Bible that demand that animals be treated with respect.
Selhorst: I see it similarly. I interpret the Bible in such a way that we can use animals - but with great respect and gratitude.
Sezgin: At the beginning of Genesis, humans are not yet allowed to eat animals. God created both animals and humans on the sixth day. At first he only gives humans the plants for food. They were only allowed to eat animals after the flood, when Noah made a covenant with God. In paradise there was only vegetable food.
Selhorst: I am not a theologian, but I find it difficult to justify the right to eat or renounce meat with the story of creation.
Many Catholics used to go without meat every Friday. Fasting should be consciously done on the day of Jesus' death. Older believers in particular still practice this today. Has the consumption of meat become too natural for us?
Selhorst: Meat used to be a luxury good. It's not called a Sunday roast for nothing. Today, people with low incomes can also afford a good piece of meat. Everyone has the freedom to decide how to eat properly and properly according to their needs. We can't tell anyone that. Not even the Christians. I'm a devout Catholic, but I still eat a piece of meat on Fridays. The freedom to be able to decide for myself and my family is very important to me. On the other hand, I don't think it's right that meat is consumed in abundance. We need a good appreciation for our food. This is especially true for meat.
Sezgin: I also think it's important that people know where their food comes from. But many would no longer like to eat meat when they learned how the animals are kept. If the Robert Koch Institute recommends that turkey and chicken should no longer be processed without gloves, because z. B. the dangerous multi-resistant MRSA germs are in it, but something can be wrong. If people knew that, they'd be pretty disgusted.
Selhorst: There is no danger from the meat itself if it is properly treated and heated and if the kitchen is hygienic.
Sezgin: However, the dangerous germs that are hatched in factory farming still exist. They can be found in the air, in the manure and in and on the people who deal with the animals.
Selhorst: But by no means only there. There are other sources as well.
Today I am concerned with the moral and emotional side of animal husbandry. How close is the emotional bond with your sheep, Ms. Sezgin?
Sezgin: We are already very familiar with each other. Some sheep want to be petted, others keep their distance. Some know her name, some don't. I respect that. My animals are not forcibly petted.
Do the same principles apply to hobby and farm animals?
Selhorst: All animals must be treated with respect. This applies equally to farm animals and pets.
Sezgin: We're not doing that right now. In the case of dogs and cats, we consider it cruelty to animals if they do not get enough exercise. This is not so important to us with pigs because they are farm animals. In fact, the suffering for the pig is exactly the same as for the dog or the cat. Two standards are used here.
Selhorst: First of all, our pigs don't suffer. Second, we have to differentiate between domestic animals and farm animals. A pet that is kept as a luxury animal has a different right to care than a farm animal. But we must treat both of them well.
Sezgin: People may see it that way - but the animals definitely don't!
Historically, man is an all-eater. Does this mean that a balanced diet does not include vegetable and animal products?
Sezgin: Eating everything just means that we are very flexible in terms of nutrition. As long as we did not have arable farming and were able to stock up, meat was an inevitable part of the daily menu, especially in winter. That's history. Eating everything does not mean that you have to eat everything. You can also eat a healthy vegan diet - even during pregnancy and breastfeeding.
Can people do it? We have loads of eating disorders.
Selhorst: I have doubts about that. We already have many malnourished people today. Many people no longer want and can no longer eat a balanced diet. A vegan diet makes this even more complicated.
Sezgin: One can malnutrition with and without meat. Then we just have to educate more intensively.
Selhorst: So far, politicians have shown little interest in it. That is why the rural women’s association also calls for the introduction of the school subject “nutrition and consumer education”.
It's not that easy with a vegan diet for everyone. According to the FAO, two thirds of the world's agricultural area is grassland if you include steppes and semi-deserts. These areas can only be used with animals. What will happen to our mountain farmers then?
Sezgin: Who is still doing pure grassland farming today? The dairy cows also get concentrated feed. There are only very few areas in which only roughage is used. This includes the sheep on the dikes. We could continue with dike maintenance without slaughtering the animals. In any case, we would have enough arable land to feed the inhabitants of Germany twice, if we were to do it purely plant-based.
Nevertheless, we have 4.4 million hectares of grassland. What do we do with it?
Selhorst: We need this grassland to feed the people. We can't just think of Germany. The world population is growing and we will need every hectare to adequately feed the growing number of people according to their needs and wishes. We can't just get out of there. We make up just under 1% of the world's population. What right do we have to dictate how the rest of the world should be fed?
Sezgin: We're not doing that at all. If we want to distribute food better in the world, we have to stop animal husbandry immediately. We feed many million tons of grain and soy to our pigs, chickens and cows. This drives up prices worldwide so high that some developing countries can no longer afford the basic food, especially when the harvest turns out badly. Because other industrialized countries and the emerging countries act in the same way, space in South America is slowly becoming scarce. Now you go to Africa and the problems start all over again. No, factory farming does not ensure food for the poor. On the contrary: it threatens them.
Selhorst: That's a completely one-sided view. You don't really believe that intensive animal husbandry increases hunger in the world, do you? Politics, corruption, mismanagement and a lack of know-how play a much larger role and prevent efficient agriculture in the hungry regions.
The EU bans the conversion of grassland to arable land. If we don't use it, it turns into forest. Do we want that?
Sezgin: There is nothing fundamentally to be said against more forest. Of course, some farmers who really only live on grassland would have to change their livelihood. But social change does not go without cuts. That's why I always say: The whole is a task for society as a whole, not just for individuals! Because of course we have to help the losers build a new existence. We can still preserve part of the grassland areas by allowing them to graze, but without slaughtering the animals. We are already taking care of the landscape by using mane. It also costs money.
Isn't it too easy for Ms. Sezgin when she demands that some farmers have to reorient themselves?
Selhorst: Whole regions would be useless. This raises many questions: What do we do with the excess grassland? What do we do with cattle and sheep that we no longer use? What do we do with the farmers who we no longer need? And who should pay for that? What is certain is that the processing of the grassland into milk and meat is much cheaper for us. And I'm sticking to it. We also need them for food and for the preservation of the cultural landscape.
The demand for meat is growing worldwide. May we call out to the Chinese: Don't we do it like we do?
Selhorst: No! Of course, every country has the freedom to organize its agriculture as it sees fit. It has to stay that way.
Sezgin: But maybe others can learn from our mistakes? And we don't have to export our system with all our might. We run image campaigns for meat and milk from Germany, we deliver stable technology and breeding animals all over the world and we also give Hermes guarantees for cage systems that are banned in the EU. That's the wrong way.
Before the general election, we had a heated debate about veggie days. Can the state tell us when and how we eat?
Selhorst: Definitely no.
Sezgin: We're not apart there. I don't want a law that forbids killing animals. That is the wrong question in a democracy. I have to promote my position and win a majority for it.
But you are still a long way from that. The number of vegetarians and vegans is still small. Doesn't it have to be your first goal to improve animal husbandry? Do you believe the farmers that they are trying?
Sezgin: I'm not suggesting that farmers act out of malice or callousness. You are the weakest link in the value chain. Sometimes they have to get by with mini margins of a few cents. You cannot expect animal and species-appropriate animal husbandry for this. If consumers do not want to spend more money on food, we will not be able to get out of this vicious circle in the future either. That is the core problem and society has to understand that. Again, this is not the farmers' fault. Apart from a few black sheep, they have the least amount of room for maneuver.
Is that how you like it?
Selhorst: We farmers feel strongly under attack, even though we keep animals properly. If our animals were not healthy and performed accordingly, we would not be able to survive at all. Of course we want to keep our animals even better. To do this, we work closely with science.
Sezgin: I'm not saying that our livestock farming is not proper. I just think it's bad that it is allowed in this form. Incidentally, the argument is that animals perform well, so they are fine, not right. Many laying hens suffer from inflammation of the ovary after 13 months and over 300 eggs. The slaughter data also show that many pigs have been sick in the course of their lives. These are just two examples.
Selhorst: That is not an argument that the animals were not kept well. These problems also occur in the free range, sometimes to an even greater extent. Of course we have to work on optimizing the attitudes even further. There is no alternative to this. If we don't keep farm animals in Germany, meat will still be eaten.Then where does that come from? Probably from abroad. We have a global market and there are farmers somewhere who produce the meat for the Germans. We then have no influence on the quality or the attitude. That is why we have to cautiously develop our system further. We are doing this with the Animal Welfare Initiative. What matters is that the consumer pays the necessary additional price.
Where will we be in 20 years with our livestock farming?
Sezgin: The pessimist in me thinks that in 20 years we will be keeping even more animals worldwide and will no longer have clean water. The optimist, on the other hand, would like the exploitation and violence against animals to end. It's nice that that's an issue today. It was different 10 years ago.
Selhorst: I would like consumers to appreciate our food more again. Then we also get fair prices. This is the key to economically viable animal husbandry that also takes animal welfare into account as well as possible. We have to keep making that clear. For this it is important that we farmers get into conversation with consumers and that we stay that way.
Thank you for the intense and emotional conversation.
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