Indifference about the fate of animals

Indifference is the other side of the coin engraved tolerance. Tolerance in its turn is the little sister of freedom. When indifference is combined with avarice, it can have unpleasant consequences such as factory farming. Fortunately, this greed for money can be restrained by making the unwanted behavior (read management) financially unattractive. This can be done by withdrawing subsidies (both national and European) and by starting to operate entirely according to the principle of "the polluter pays". What will (not) make people change their behavior? Thinking about changing ones behavior starts with becoming aware of the fact that there is something wrong with ones present behavior In the case of animals, this has to do with knowing about and understanding the abuses, as well as with a notion of ethics. When ethics are not rooted in compassion, just action will come to nothing.
How can it be that 76% of people is against laying batteries and yet so few of them buy eco-eggs? In scientific terms: where does this discrepancy between attitude and behavior come from? Fishbein and Ajzen are two psychologists who consider to be the strongest motive for human consumer behavior: a rational weighing up of pros and cons. They acknowledge that there are more factors at play, but they consider this rational choice to be central. What does hold, however, is that what is rational for one person may be irrational for someone else. The most important rational considerations are: price, availability of alternatives, estimated effects on health, taste, and the knowledge required for preparing alternatives.Another influencing factor - according to Fishbein and Ajzen - is social pressure from important others. In the case of factory farming, these can be the government, pressure groups, fellow consumers, and family members. The more value one attaches to their opinion, the greater is their influence. Social pressure also comes from education, the media, commercials, and role models. Furthermore, romantic childhood memories of playing at the farm can play a role, or the social status of activists: open sandals and woolly socks or an appealing alternative lifestyle. A lifestyle in which you show consideration for factory farm animals is difficult to show off with; it is hardly visible. It does help a little if you are able to prepare nice meals without meat. Being implicitly critical of other people's lifestyles will not make you very popular.
When one really wants to change the outcome of the weighing of a illogical, but habitual behavior other factors such as responsibility will also start to count, especially when a number of negative consequences of the present behavior are indirect. One may think here of the consumer asking him- or herself whether it is not actually the producer or the government, instead of the consumer, that is responsible for the well-being of or chickens. Another factor is the estimated effectiveness of the alternative behavior on reducing the problem: "Is my drop a drop in the ocean?" An example of this is for instance the question sometimes asked by people who buy free-range eggs: is a chicken in the free range industry really that much better off than one in a laying battery? One should also have the possibility to choose alternatives. In the absence of easily attainable alternatives there will be no change in behavior "Erst das Fressen und dann die Moral".
Today's hectic life is not conducive to a reconsideration of the pros and cons of eating patterns; people just do not take the time to do so. People do recognize the disadvantages, but do not do anything with that knowledge. Originally neutral values and standards change into their opposites or shoot through. Competition is considered a virtue; moderation is seen as deprivation. If you do not push yourself, and others, to the limit, you are an underachiever. Altruistic behavior is suspicious and despicable. There is a growing pressure from society to succeed. The indifference of the consumer of products from factory farming resembles the indifference of the drug-addict towards the feelings of his victims. Addiction is a kind of lack of freedom that can threaten the freedom of others.Modern man, unaware of his or her own lack of freedom or that of animals, is addicted to meat as a luxury product, works hard, has no time for alternatives, wants to eat fast and cheap and risks his or her health. Factory farming is granted too much latitude (freedom) in such a society, because the consumer fails to test the integrity of products and to draw a line somewhere. Factory farming is a cheap and 'fast' way of working, both financially and morally. So much for the individual considerations. There are also factors at macro level that slow down or keep off improvements in animal welfare.

logoThis page describes one aspect of the influence that man has on the quality of life of an animal. We wish to promote the (in other countries as well) growing of awareness, that freedom is also important for an animal. An animal is not a thing, but a being that has the right to quality of a natural way of life. If you want to do something to help animals, click here for our suggestions.

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