Meat consumption and the idea of animal resources

Eating animals. From the vast land required for pork farms to the harmful gases emitted by cattle, eating meat contributes to global warming more than any other single cause. The UN recently suggested people must adopt a plant-based diet for the sake of the environment. Despite this, vegetarians and vegans remain in the minority.

Most cultures have traditions that centre around when and why certain animals are eaten, such as the annual Thanksgiving turkey in the USA. Jobs and livelihoods depend upon animals being raised, killed and sold as a variety of products. Particular species (such as chickens, cows and pigs) are looked upon as resources that humans can use for food and clothing. Consequently, habits develop of eating meat that can be difficult to break, even when healthy plant-based options are affordable and plentiful.

Previous academic research, in fields like philosophy and social science, has helpfully approached this dilemma through discussing animal rights and consumer perceptions. Works of literature offer a fresh perspective, because the complex relationships between humans and animals are portrayed on-page with depth and creativity. By looking at texts from 1800-2000, a history of those relationships and how they changed over time can be explored. How attitudes towards animals might alter in the future, leading us towards environmentally friendly diets, can then be imagined.