When I was more involved with animal activism and outreach, the issue of lobster tanks in restaurants and grocery stores would periodically come up. Some activists took particular offense to the idea of consumers picking out a lobster while it is alive, and then eating it. I could never understand why this was a greater crime than choosing from a whole slew of dead animal parts that had been slaughtered out of site.
This New York Times article asks this same question, albeit in a much more gruesome way. In this case, a chef slaughtered a chicken on British television. Another chef performed cruel factory farm practices on animals in order to educate viewers about the true cost of cheap meat and eggs.
Some people are outraged about these chefs’ participation in the killing or torturing of animals. But is this really worse than the chefs who participate indirectly by purchasing meat and dressing it up as culinary artwork and shielding their customers from the cold reality of what they are eating?
I believe that the more people who know about and are reminded of where meat comes from, the fewer of them will participate. At the very least, more of them will insist on supporting only those farms that at least give animals a quality natural life before their much-too-early deaths. This alone would decrease meat consumption, because it would be more expensive and less convenient.
Perhaps those who oppose this more open approach to animal slaughter are afraid that people will see this cruelty first-hand and will still not care. For those of us who have shown friends the horror of factory farming only to see them continue to support it, we know this is a real possibility. I have faith that enough people are genuinely compassionate toward all animals that society would shift in the animals’ favor if people could no longer escape the reality of what they are eating.