You Sure You Want to Eat That Sentient Being?

Hosted by

Peter Singer. Photo courtesy of guest

Peter Singer knows it is difficult to make a lonely stand against the mega corporate food processing machine. To make meaningful changes to diet, to care more about where food comes from and to consider the vast laundry list of problems that comes with the international food industry requires a great deal of attention to detail and resourcefulness. Singer, through his persuasive and forgiving prose, makes it easier for folks to get in the know about what a trip to the supermarket really entails. Singer joins host Robert Scheer for this week’s Scheer Intelligence episode to talk about the renewed version of his classic book, Animal Liberation Now.

After nearly 50 years since the original publishing of Animal Liberation, Singer finds that there indeed has been change, although not as much as he would have liked. With a fresh perspective on the research regarding food production's impact on climate change, Singer reintroduces his classic with a modern angle. Scheer and Singer revisit the important points that made the book a hit for all these years. For one, despite improvements in regulations in Europe, the U.S. continues to be one of the worst violators of animal welfare. “There's no federal regulation that says you can't keep a chicken in a cage so small that she can't stretch her wings fully or you can't keep a pig in a crate that she can't even turn around in,” Singer says, adding “that's the influence of the lobbyists… the agri-business that is pouring money into Washington lobbyists and preventing any such legislation at the federal level.”

The nightmarish conditions of overcrowded food factories, where 20,000 animals are confined and deprived of natural light, while being force-fed subpar nutrition, depict the current state of affairs. Even if you have no sympathy for the animals, “they're under stress, their immune systems are weakened. It's a perfect recipe for creating new viruses… There will be humans who have to go into the sheds, who will pick up the viruses and spread them back to the community. So there's a serious pandemic risk with factory farming,” Singer adds.

Sympathy for these animals should be the goal, however, as Singer attempts to convey throughout the book. “Animals are other beings who are on this planet. They were not placed on this planet just for our benefit. They are living their own lives. And I don't believe that we—because we have power over them, because of our advanced technology—are justified in giving them miserable lives in order to produce their flesh, milk or eggs more cheaply,” he declares.



Joshua Scheer