A brief thought on feel-good words

Most of us agree that it’s wrong to harm animals and we ALL say that they should be treated ‘humanely’. However most of us would struggle to define what ‘humanely’ actually means, because it is a word that means different things to different people. It sits alongside many other feel-good terms that we are actively encouraged to think of as related; like ‘free range’, ‘organic’, ‘pasture raised’, ‘corn fed’, ‘high welfare’; words that suggest that the package contents had a wonderful life before winding up at a few weeks or months old, drained of blood in shrink wrap in a supermarket mortuary aisle.

Just to be clear here, marketing is a science and it makes a great deal of money for those whose job it is. Those who market substances derived from the lives and the bodies of nonhumans, are taking full advantage of  an almost complete lack of knowledge on the part of shoppers and consumers, and are utterly shameless about making it seem that what they sell was produced in a way that does not conflict with our shared values of caring about animals. As part of this, they often use feel-good labels alongside reassuring endorsements by various industry partnering organisations that mendaciously claim to represent ‘animal interests’ and use words like ‘quality’ and ‘cruelty’.

Taking advantage of what we don’t know

Knowing that most consumers don’t know – and in many cases would prefer not to know –  any of the details, the words are often illustrated in a childlike fashion to suggest that they represent a good thing; cue suggestive images of jolly cartoon hens on green grass in sunshine, smiling or even laughing cartoon cows with jaunty cartoon udders, even (disturbingly) cute and smiling pigs cheerfully slicing their own bodies. The juvenile level of their propaganda would be embarrassing in almost any other field of commerce.

To a greater or lesser degree, the general theme is to seek to make the dismembered parts and secretions as sanitised as possible, bearing no possible reminder of the true victim.  It would never do to remind the consumer of the defenceless, distraught individual whose unique and precious body they comprised not so very long before. It would never do to open a window into the injustice of their lifelong and relentless use as a commercial asset, where every minute aspect of the existence they endure is governed by humans to maximise their own commercial advantage and fulfil the peaks and troughs of consumer-demand-led misery.

If we look into the industry definitions of ‘humane’, ‘welfare‘ or ‘free-range’ or any other of the words we look for on labels, we will find that they are technical terms, used as a result of compliance with a list of (at best) fairly loose conditions – set by the victim industries themselves. THINK about that one. The people making the rules about our victims are those who make money from using their lives and bodies.  Despite our assumption that rules have something to do with victim well-being, the words were long since co-opted by the harm industries and used for a very specific reason.

Keep on telling us we’re ethical

Despite recent and transparently untrue attempts to suggest that only ‘happy’ victims yield eggs, breast milk and body parts, that reason has absolutely nothing to do with respect for our victims, nothing to do with recognition of their individuality, and nothing to do with acknowledgement of their right to live unharmed. Why would it? For the industries that sell body parts and secretions by the kilo, litre or carton, victims are not regarded as sentient individuals; If they were being regarded as the sentient individuals they are, they would not be victims in the first place. They are resources; business assets used for profit and nothing more. The reason that the feel-good words are promoted is that it’s good business.

Every time we see any of the feel-good words on a package using or containing breast milk, eggs or body parts, or indeed on any animal-derived substance, it is a clear admission that suppliers know that their consumers love to be told they’re being ethical. As someone who was not always vegan, I know only too well that not only do consumers like to be reassured this way, but we readily abdicate to the supplier most of the responsibility for ensuring that their products will allow us to continue to feel good about ourselves while pretending we’re not hurting anyone.

Our actions, our responsibility

But we can’t have it all ways. Either we recognise that our victims matter, that they have feelings, that they can be harmed and hurt. Or we don’t. The fact that so many of us act as I once did, looking for the feel-good words in the misplaced hope that my choices minimised harm, is a clear recognition that for most of us, we know that they matter.

The mere fact that the industry could even consider promoting the nonsense that our victims must be ‘happy’ to give up the substances derived from their broken and tormented bodies is an admission that they know that’s what shoppers want to hear. It’s an admission that they know their victims have feelings. What it is NOT – is the truth.

However, as always, we should remind ourselves to follow the money and not let the mob or the marketers dictate our actions by pretending they can absolve us of responsibility for them.

There is only ONE way to stop causing deliberate harm to others. And that way is to become vegan. In fact to stop causing deliberate harm is the definition of veganism. Find out about it today. Be vegan.

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2 Responses to A brief thought on feel-good words

  1. Pingback: Sentience – what does it actually mean? | There's an Elephant in the Room blog

  2. Spunky Bunny says:

    Yes, people want to believe they are ethical and will only listen to anything that confirms they are ethical. If anyone tells them they are being unethical, they feel “attacked” and “shoot the messenger” instead of listening to the truth and doing something about it.

    Animal Liberation Now!
    Be Vegan Now!


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