Animals, more than only meat...
Recently I heard a moving story on the radio. It was about an experiment with mice, and it demonstrated that not only humans have a conscience but even mice have one. The experiment was as follows: there were two boxes and in each one was a mouse. These mice could see each other. One mice could take food and be happy. However, there was only one problem: whenever the mouse took food, in the other box the other mouse received an electrical shock and died. The mouse that took the food could see the effect of its actions and learned quickly that the dead of the other mouse was related with taken food. So, the mouse decided not to eat anymore and thereby stopped killing the mouse in the other box. The person who told the story said the mouse hungered itself to death, illustrating that the mouse had a conscience. I don't know how often this experiment was repeated to see whether all mice have a conscience. However, I hope the scientists also had a conscience and that they didn't watch the mouse starve itself to dead but that they decided to end the experiment when they got the data they wanted.
A few years ago, I witnessed my own story where the main characters were two wood pigeons: one alive, the other death. The pigeon alive was mourning the death one and sitting next to it. Then a man with his dog walked passed the pigeons and during this period, the pigeon moved out of the way but after the man and dog were a little further, the pigeon returned to its dead mate. I have heard that wood pigeons stay together until death part them and I don't know whether the dead pigeon was male or female, but it was touching. It is also known that elephants mourn their relatives and probably many more animals do.
This again shows animals are not that different from humans, and humans are not that different from animals. People often find it strange that animals use tools or think, as if only humans are special. For instance, we say that chimpansees are special animals as they are intelligent enough to use tools as we do. But what about birds? Do they not use tools to build a nest? And they think very carefully about the materials they use: is it not too big or too small, is it from the right tree, becuase they don't want to fly with sticks they can't use, it would be a waist of energy. We also often say that we are the only animals that can smile, ignoring the fact that monkeys can. We can even understand when a monkey is angry or happy, but still we say that only humans have these feelings. Especially regarding the experiment with the mice, it shows that even animals can have a conscience, although I think that is mainly with social-living animals. This of course is a survival strategy as the animals should work together to survive and not kill the other for their own benefit. Animals living on their own are different: a male bear will kill the pups of a female bear as he sees it as competition. On the other hand, the small bizons will be protected by the adults when wolfs are in the neigbourhood.
A final thought: I wonder how human we are: how many people would starve themselves to dead so not to kill a fellow human? Although, I can imagine many people feeling so uncomfortable with the idea of always killing another human for their own benefits that they might starve themselves to death to prevent the other person dying. Nevertheless, we should consider more that other animals (and even plants) all want to live and thus we should respect all live on this planet more. As one of the ten commandments mentions: 'One shall not kill'.