Abnormal shift in views

Ellie

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Hello there!
This is my first time posting here so I hope this thread is in the right section of the forum.

So, I've been a vegetarian (and an on-and-off vegan) for about an year or two and recently I decided to really go full vegan. It wasn't hard and I don't miss meat or dairy or eggs at all but something really weird starting happening with my way of thinking (it had started when I went vegetarian but now I feel it even stronger).
Instead of me gaining even more compassion for other species the opposite happened - I would start questioning whether it is a stupidity to feel so compassionate since in nature animals can be extremely savage in order to survive...
I've watched nature programmes all my childhood and I wasn't disturbed the slightest when the predators tore up their prey and despite being an omnivore I felt immensely fascinated and attracted by animals. Now that I've watched so much on the subject of veganism I can't help but flinch when I see the harsh side of nature and this makes me feel negative about those particular animals which once again turns me into a speciecist... I can't help but see those actions as cruel and I know it is just their way of survival and I have absolutely no idea why things don't feel the same way again, I nitpick and overthink these subjects and it's like I cannot feel well neither as an omnivore, nor as a vegan (because it makes me think weirdly and creates a nonexisting conflict in my head and not because I miss animal products) . As I said I was expecting to feel even more compassionate by shifting to veganism and yet I turned into a weirdo who judges other animals because of their predatory nature (which is something people opposing veganism point out!).
So I wanted to ask if some of you has ever had such controversial and conflicting thoughts and how to cope with them. I certainly don't want to start eating animal products again but being vegan for some reason puts a strain on my state of mind..
I'm sorry for the long venting post
 

Clareh13

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I don't think you're a weirdo!

Animals eating other animals is a completely different thing to humans eating other animals though. For lots of reasons!

  • Animals do it to survive, we can easily survive without eating meat or animal products, especially in the wealthy western world

  • Animals behave based on their instinct and hard wired drives. Humans are capable of thinking in depth about their actions and making a decision based on more than gut instinct and immediate need or desire, animals aren't capable of this.

  • Predators and prey in the wild are part of an intricate ecosystem that has evolved over many tens of thousands of years to sustain itself. If the predators weren't there to keep the numbers of prey animals balanced then they would be overpopulated and eventually deplete their own food supplies, causing all sorts of problems. Humans have basically taken over control of a lot of ecosystems, we don't live the way we evolved to anymore, we aren't part of any natural processes like this, we control our environment and our food supplies artificially.

  • Prey animals in the wild get to live their natural lives up until the point they are caught/eaten. They get to stay with their mothers as long as nature intended, they get to play, fight, mate, raise their own young and eat their own natural diet. The animals we eat as food live a miserable existence from the day they are born to the day we slaughter them usually only a few months later. Even ones that are rescued or that manage to escape the system have a level of suffering all their lives because of the way we have selectively bred them with no regard to their welfare just to produce more food for us. Domesticated hens look almost nothing like the red junglefowl they are descended from, for example.

You probably know all of this already and what you're having is an emotional response to images of dead animals being eaten, totally understandable! Maybe avoid the nature programmes until the feeling subsides a little.
 

poivron

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There are squirrels and foxes in my neighborhood, as well as other wild animals. One morning, I saw a fox with a squirrel in its mouth. I was devastated. I felt horribly guilty because the squirrel was almost certainly there to look for the nuts I left outside my door every morning. I had a very hard time empathizing with the fox. I still do.

I've thought a lot about the kinds of considerations Clareh outlined above. If it hadn't been caught by the fox, the squirrel might have died of disease, hunger, or old age. The fact that the squirrel got caught suggests that it was probably ill or old. If the fox hadn't caught the squirrel, its kits might have starved to death.

This doesn't have anything to do with veganism, however. As humans, we cannot base our behavior on the behavior of animals. If we did, we would have to live in the wild and abolish all our laws against theft, assault, murder, rape, torture, and cannibalism. Moreover, what we do to animals in factory farms goes beyond anything any animal does; no other animal is that cruel or greedy or destructive to its environment. (When a fox hunts a squirrel, the squirrel gets away in most cases. We humans don't give animals that opportunity. Our guns are too powerful and precise, and our factory farms take advantage of the peaceful and accepting nature of pigs, cows, and chickens to trick them into dying for us.)

Also, remember that not all animals eat other animals. Squirrels, rabbits, and deer, for example, are peaceful animals. I would much rather be a squirrel and live peacefully in a tree than be a fox who has to terrorize and kill smaller animals to stay alive.

As Clareh suggested, you might want to stop watching nature shows about predators and their prey. I think they might over-emphasize the viciousness of carnivores because the people who made the documentary are themselves meat-eaters who want to justify their own behavior. Instead, observe animals directly in nature. Go on nature walks. Look at birds and squirrels. You will find that the vast majority of them are peaceful creatures.
 

Forest Nymph

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I really love animals and study environmental science so I've never had this problem. I don't have a problem with what other animals d0 to each other because of my knowledge of ecosystems, key stone species, decomposers, blah blah ....to me it's all a symphony, it all makes sense, and what has messed it up are people, not lions or bears. In fact I have a deep love of mountain lions (the American lion or cougar).

I know people have motives that animals don't. People kill for pleasure not necessity. Animals act in accordance to their instincts, and only kill for hunger - they don't just wantonly torture their prey or indulge in gluttony. There have even been cases of competing animals in the wild raising another's young - like "no hard feelings, we've all got to eat."

Perhaps you'll call me a misanthrope, or perhaps you'll attribute it to a religious view of humanity, but it is my understanding of science that completely and utterly absolves animals from any human motives. People are destroying the earth and causing climate change, polar bears aren't.

I have heard of this before, though. I know of vegans who will only keep herbivores as companion animals (such as rabbits) or who feel hostility towards large predatory animals. I don't know what to say about it, I don't relate, but you're not the only person who has experienced this, that I know for certain.
 
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Ellie

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I am so grateful to read all of your replies, thank you very much for the discussion!
I think I managed to identify my issue - I've always loved all animals and I've always hated it when people say humans are superior to all the other species so I've subconsciously started wanting to believe animals do have the same minds as humans but that's simply not true - every one has their own distinct nature and some of them have only their instincts as guidelines and cannot be judged on the basis of humans because we've left our place in the ecosystem and when our instincts were no longer really needed we could develop that kind of reasoning and compassion.
Thank you for the suggestions, I did find that programme to be rather off putting, because it compared some animals' behavior to human sins but I think this wasn't meant to be taken as seriously as I took it.

I really love animals and study environmental science so I've never had this problem.

On a side note, I'd love to study environmental sciences, too!
 
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