Are we more intelligent than animals, and if so, does that give us the right to eat them?
I don't know how many times I hear the argument that humans are at the top of the food chain because we're the most intelligent, but as far as I'm concerned, it holds absolutely no weight.
As Einstein once said
"If you judge fish by their ability to climb a tree, they spend their whole lives believing they are stupid."
It is true that we have achieved some fantastic things that set us apart from other species. I believe the biggest of these are complex language and our understanding of conceptual thought – although both can be applied to a lesser extent in the animal kingdom. So why do we think we can eat animals with lower intelligence? And what is "lower intelligence" and how far down the animal chain do you go? For insects?
And based on that, we would eat dogs before we eat pigs, because pigs show much higher intelligence than dogs and even a three-year-old human.
Unfortunately, intelligence seems to define which life is worth living and which isn't - and yet, if we can use this reasoning to justify killing pigs, then it should apply to all animals across the spectrum, because we are very arrogantly putting ourselves on top.
Now all animals have cognitive abilities, even insects - the only food source that doesn't is plants because they lack any cognitive abilities.
And if you're wondering what cognitive ability is, let me clarify:
"The ability of an individual to perform the various mental activities most closely associated with learning and problem-solving."
Science now understands that animals (including sea creatures) and insects exhibit problem-solving abilities. Not only that, but many can use the tools to achieve the desired result.
So I'll go back to what Einstein said about the fish climbing the tree. Each animal has the intelligence to learn and solve problems in its specific environment, and others, like pigs, show more advanced intelligence in solving more complex types of puzzles.
I don't know why we see intelligence as a reason for dominating other species, except as an excuse to eat them or use them for our own gain - experiments, entertainment, fashion, and even as work animals.
Here are some thoughts you can put to the next person who tries to make an argument with the excuse of intelligence.
Does intelligence define the value and worth of an individual's life and if so, why don't we eat dogs instead of pigs because pigs have higher intelligence?
Does this mean that someone with a higher IQ is superior to someone with a lower IQ, and therefore we can do whatever we want with that person?
Does someone with a learning disability have less value and therefore their life is worth less than yours?
Now you may also be asking – What if you could live in a world where you did not cause pain and suffering to people of lower intelligence, while improving your health and even longevity? Wouldn't that be the smartest thing to do?
And really? Are we really the most intelligent species? Yes, we've invented some nice things, we've flown to the moon, we have advanced technology, we can perform surgery (although we still lag behind in curing diseases), we can write and we can read.
But here's the kicker. Most of us would never be able to survive in the animal world, simply because we have lost the ability to live with nature.
Look at what we are doing to the planet. We are the only species that actually destroys the only home we have. We have this innate ability to consume without accepting the consequences. The impact our actions have on the resources that keep us alive - the rainforests, oceans, soil, water, etc. kind of tells me that we are indeed the least intelligent species. Maybe we should start acknowledging that.