Of cognitive dissonance and the sentience of animals

The article: https://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/leisure/2023/02/25/people-still-find-it-hard-to-grasp-that-animals-are-sentient-beings/


In other words, consumers still find it difficult to grasp the idea that animals are sentient beings like themselves. The psychological phenomenon behind this reluctance is called cognitive dissonance, theorised in the 1950s by American psychologist Leon Festinger.

This often takes the form of a psychological discomfort that arises when beliefs are incompatible with a behaviour, including when it comes to what we eat.

For example, the overwhelming majority of people who consume or have consumed meat do so out of social convention or because they like the taste, without considering the suffering that this choice causes to the animals that end up on their plates.

This phenomenon also explains why people think of dogs as sentient animals much more easily than pigs, as the University of Kent researchers noted.

“Participants were more certain that evidence suggesting dogs had minds was true than they were of evidence suggesting pigs had minds,” they state in the study. This paradox shows how ambiguous humans’ relationship with animals really is.

We share this as it’s Meatless Monday tomorrow.

I remember an encounter with a stranger during a chance meeting many years ago. She was very vocal about her annoyance when people promote vegetarianism by using compassion as a reason. She says she can accept it if it is for health reasons or any other reason except compassion for animals. To me, that seemed so bizarre as my own reason for going vegetarian or at least eating less meat is solely because of compassion for the animals.

But if you notice, Meatless Monday also does not talk much about compassion; they promote going vegetarian once a week to save the planet and for health reasons. I guess they have done the research and they know this cognitive dissonance exists in many humans?

So, this argument isn’t going to go down well with many humans.

According to the article, many will see pets as being “more sentient” than farm animals meant for consumption. In other words, it is not alright to eat a dog (or cat) but it is alright to eat chickens, pigs, etc.

“All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.” A quote from Animal Farm by George Orwell explaining disparities that exist in society.

The bottom line is, as much as this might hurt, humans are selfish beings. That is why we actually have to learn to be unselfish and more giving. We need to be taught.

So let’s do something unselfish tomorrow, let’s go meatless!

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