The Grumpy Vegan thought this conclusion to a review of Temple Grandin’s new book with Catherine Johnson, Making Animals Happy, was, well, a tad sarcastic?
The simplicity of the writing and the clarity of her thinking are echoed in her afterword, in which she confronts the frequent questions about why she works in the meat industry. Her answer is that she can improve animals’ lives. Everything dies, she says logically; best make the deaths orderly and unfrightening. Becoming an individual vegetarian can’t solve cruelty to animals, and misunderstood dogs, left alone all day in the house, have a much worse quality of life than her cattle, she believes.
Her practical reasoning relies on Dr Panksepp’s theory of four core emotions [seeking, rage, fear and panic]. Most of us, however, would feel that emotions and behaviour (what we would call our and others’ selves) are immensely more complicated than that, and some wonder if this might not also be true of animals.
Though Grandin’s admirable and extraordinary work certainly makes life better for animals, her pragmatic approach to improving their conditions never questions the ability of us human animals to judge what is the best life for the non-human sort. And some would say that our assumed right to use all the other creatures for our own benefit by definition precludes us from knowing what is the best life for any creature but ourselves.