UND WRITERS CONFERENCE: Hypocrites and their animals
Humans and the way they think about and live with animals is a history fraught with contradiction and hypocrisy, said Hal Herzog, author of a book called "Some We Love, Some We Hate, Some We Eat," speaking Thursday at the UND Writers Conference i...
Humans and the way they think about and live with animals is a history fraught with contradiction and hypocrisy, said Hal Herzog, author of a book called "Some We Love, Some We Hate, Some We Eat," speaking Thursday at the UND Writers Conference in Grand Forks.
Herzog said he agrees that there are strong arguments against eating meat -- for example, health reasons and benefits to the environment. Still, he is among the 95 percent of Americans who eat meat, he said.
Americans are in fact eating more meat than ever, most of it chicken, said Herzog, who has spent more than two decades studying the science of human-animal relations.
"Animal rights has been a colossal failure -- I shouldn't say that -- but you could actually blame animal activists for us eating more meat," Herzog said during a taping of the "Why?" radio show, hosted by UND professor of philosophy Jack Russell Weinstein.
The chicken we eat today typically has a life span of 48 days that it spends crammed in a cage, living in squalor, bred to have a breast so large that it can barely walk. Fighting game cocks, on the other hand, may die in the ring and be thrown in the garbage, but during their lives they eat the best food and are treated like professional athletes.
To him, Herzog said, there's no question -- even though he abhors cockfighting and likes to eat chicken -- he believes the chicken itself would rather die fighting than end up a Chicken McNugget.
One of history's biggest contradictions was the Nazis, he said, who passed some of the strictest laws ever against animal cruelty, but who killed millions of humans in concentration camps and gas chambers.
Pets can harm
Owning a pet can enhance a person's quality of life and their health, but studies show it just as often can have the opposite effect, Herzog said.
As an example, he talked about the popularity of encouraging senior citizens to bring pets into their homes as companions. As a result, one of the leading causes for the elderly to end up in the emergency room is because they've tripped and fallen over the family pet, he said.
"If you had a drug that caused 85,000 people to trip and fall, it would be taken off the market," he said, to audience laughter.
Herzog answered questions from Weinstein and audience members for a little more than an hour at the UND Memorial Union Ballroom. The show that was recorded will be aired at 5 p.m. April 8 on Prairie Public Radio (93.6 FM in Grand Forks) and also can be heard as a podcast at www.philosophyinpubliclife.com .
The Writers Conference continues today and Saturday at UND. For a listing of events, see the What's Up calendar on Page A3.
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