nutritional ethics and sardines

I’ve not eaten any mammals for over 15 years now. I don’t like the idea of a sentient creature suffering and dying for me to chew on and digest their flesh, especially when there are alternative sources of nutrition easily to hand.

But I don’t consider myself to be any kind of example of nutritional ethics. I’ve occasionally eaten fish without even scrutinising the source – most notably when under the influence of alcohol and a fish supper is nearby, and when pregnant and breastfeeding. I continue to consume eggs, knowing that male baby chick by-products trundle along a cold conveyor belt by their hundreds of thousands to death by gas and crush. And cheese from unknown cows, with all the associated death and suffering I’m aware exists in the dairy industry.

So I don’t judge anyone else for what they eat. But I wonder how many more generations will continue to knowingly exploit our animal friends on such a large scale. I hope not many.

I view life through my own personal lens of evolutionary theory. When something about human behaviour upsets me, I try to trace it back through time. Humans are what we are because we have eaten other living things. Our brains would be dinky if we’d stuck to plants. The natural cycle of life sees most living things crushing up and digesting another living thing in order to grow. We’re all made up of the same stuff, aren’t we? I should be able to eat road kill.

My body is weak and under-nourished. I don’t eat enough calcium, there’s no vitamin D in my diet (and certainly none from the sun) and my brain is sluggish, to say the least. I’ve decided to sacrifice one of my fellow Earth inhabitants to my gut. I want to eat sardines – they’re not very sentient, little scope for suffering, they’re abundant, and they’re nutritionally rich.

Any suggestions on how to open the can and cross the mental barrier to chew through their flesh?