Roth’s work deals with the concept of “repugnance” as the driving force in the market. Repugnance means that the public rejects the idea as a matter of course–it’s something that is not normalized in society. He reasons that as the horrors of factory farming and health concerns become more widespread, it is quite possible that meat eating will soon become the exception, not the norm.
“We already don’t eat whale. We think whales might be smart. The next question is cows,” Roth says.
Most Americans would recoil from eating whale, and feel justified in criticizing the Japanese over whale and dolphin hunting. Most Americans also eat beef. This is possible not because humans evolved to eat only land mammals, or because whales are closer to us in appearance than cows. Both whales and cows are intelligent, social animals with distinct personalities and a range of emotions. The single biggest difference lies not in whales and cows themselves, but the way our society accepts eating one and rejects the other without rational inquiry. If the tide of social paradigm shifts, eating animals in general might be considered morally outrageous by all.
If Roth’s prediction is correct, vegan pride parades might become a thing of the past, as veganism becomes the norm, not the exception. But until then, we’ll be proud to keep spreading the message and showing that we can all live in a more compassionate and just world for animals.
Photo: urbangarden via Flickr