I am a former undercover investigator who worked in factory farms, and am currently Investigations Manager for a national animal protection organization

I'm always glad to hear people say they care about the treatment of animals. It almost seems like a badge of honor to declare yourself unfeeling toward animals bred for food. And I commend you for getting your meat from a more old-school style farm. I wonder if for that decision you ever get questions and responses similar to what vegans get? (Why?, You're a drop in the bucket, or just curiosity into the subject)

But I do want to ask, how do you suppose cows or pigs or chickens lack rational thought? They can't do long division or play with legos, but they were never meant to. Given the chance, they would explore their environment, search for and consume food, avoid predators, mate and produce offspring, care for their offspring, etc. I'm not a biologist, but I'm sure there are even more actions they take to ensure their survival and well-being. What about any of these thought-out actions betrays anything but rationality?

I also just happen to be starting a book called Inside of a Dog by Alexandra Horowitz, and she has repeatedly and convincingly pressed on the fact that it takes a lot of work, scientific and personal--within one's ability to empathize and imagine--to understand whatsoever another species of animals actual experience. I'd bet that part of the conclusion is that even after so much research, ultimately when it comes to other species, it takes one to know one.

What you said about emotions in cows is undoubtedly true, but in the context of the two thoughts prior, it seemed to trivialize what cows clearly can and do feel... most notably for this discussion being pain, suffering, and contentedness.

I apologize if any pent up frustration with people confused about animal agriculture and confused with themselves leaked here. Most of the people I see talking about animals aren't nearly as thoughtful or open-minded as the people I'm seeing comment here.

/r/IAmA Thread Parent