[Smoked salmon] tastes so good. I return to the refrigerator, open it, pull out more salmon. It says… "Remember the bargain." I eat the food. Close the door. Try not to think about it.This excerpt comes from Derrick Jensen's provocative Endgame, Volume 1: The Problem of Civilization (Seven Stories Press, ISBN: 978-1583227305).
I go back again. I remember the predator-prey bargain: If you consume the flesh of another, you take responsibility for the continuation of its community. I open the refrigerator. Eat more.
This time the salmon says something else to me: "I know you don’t like killing. If you help take out the dams that will help us survive. Then you can kill and eat all the salmon you'd like. We will even jump out of the water and right to where you are waiting. You won’t feel bad about killing us, because you have helped our community. We will gladly do this for you, if you will help us survive." (Emphasis added.)
Of all the species of suicidefoodists, we find the pious, connected-to-Nature types the hardest to stomach. Their artisanal meats! Their eyewitness accounts of slaughter and butchery! The profound connections they imagine with the animals they carve up with reverent knives and forks! They have achieved a near-holy state that the mere vegan—with his perverse willingness to let the animals be—can never hope to understand. Once again enfolded within the embrace of life's fundamental forces, the "conscious eaters" are the true animal lovers.
For all of them, the message of the animals is never a straightforward, rational, commonsense one: "Don't kill me or my kind." No, it's always a message that allows the animal-carers-about to continue as before, making but a few concessions: buy your meat from this or that kind of supplier, support the removal of these or those dams, give thanks before you eat.
Why not tear down the dams, scrub the air clean, replant the forests and then—this gets tricky, so pay attention—not eat the fish, after all? To eat them on the grounds that you are only doing their bidding is pure solipsism. This "bargain" Jensen speaks of: who came up with that?
And this "community" the animals are said to hold in such regard? We say, how can there be a community with no individuals? "Kill me! Kill us all! Just spare our community!" In this conception, animals will sacrifice for a principle, thus showing themselves to be more sophisticated than most of us.
Regrettably, we possess the poisoned mind of the "civilized," but we can more easily imagine the gratitude of animals who have been spared our gory awe and left alone altogether. But for all of their honoring of animals, the neo-traditionals never seem to remember that animals have an interest in finding comfort and security. In using their healthy bodies. In being alive.
Addendum: Is anyone else reminded of those suicidal whales of yore?