Last night’s Oscar for best documentary went to Netflix’s trailblazing documentary "My Octopus Teacher." The documentary chronicles a complex relationship between a man and the world’s most bizarre animal – an octopus. It further testifies to our highly conflicted relationship with non-human animals and the natural world.

Most of us treasure our “pets” – dogs, cats, horses. Our allegiance to them transcends that to our own species. If our dog and a Congolese child were competing for scarce funds for life-saving surgery, we know who would live.

Yet, we torment, kill, and consume other animals that are similar in appearance, intelligence, and ability to suffer. Then, we condemn Asians who do the same to animals we consider pets.

We pride ourselves on being intelligent, rational beings. We have gone to the moon, unraveled and modified genetic codes, and found cures for deadly diseases. Yet we still have not figured out our relationship with non-human animals and the natural world.

Some of us have. Vegans profess compassion and respect for all sentient beings. Veganism requires no special courses or certifications. Every one of us can become one on our next trip to our supermarket.

Raymond Nakahara


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(3) comments


When you cut a head off of a cabbage, it does scream. Plants just have a higher pitch - which has been documented. Some people must be on meat-only diets for a variety of health reasons. Not everyone can be a vegan. Don't preach and don't judge.


Rise, my tires squeal at a high pitch on smooth concrete in parking garages; it does not mean that my tires--or the concrete--feels anything like pain. There is no question, however, that the mammals we eat feel pain, suffer fear, and so on: they are sentient beings. Ditto poultry. I'll spot you oysters (but not cephalopods).

Plants are sensitive to gravity, light, temperature, chemical stimuli, and lots more; but there is no evidence of sentience. There is no question that pigs (for example) suffer enormously in industrial "farming" and the sorrow a cow and immature calf feel at separation is crystal-clear to anyone with a bit of empathy; so let's not conflate cabbages and these animals. You've kept chickens; I expect you understand the moral difference between a hen and the grass and insects she devours.


Vegans have a conflicted relationship with plants, particularly vegetable plants. They strip them if their skin, hack them into pieces then plane those pieces into boiling oil or water. German “scientists” claim that trees can communicate. If that’s true (not!) then carrots and celery can also communicate. Vegans are cruel.

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