07 January 2010

Henry S. Salt (1851-1939) on Zoophily

Henry S. Salt (1851-1939) And here we see the inevitable logic of Vegetarianism, if our belief in the Rights of Animals is ever to quit the stage of theory and enter the stage of fact; for just as there can be no human rights where there is slavery, so there can be no animal rights where there is eating of flesh. "To keep a man, slave or servant," says Edward Carpenter, "for your own advantage merely, to keep an animal that you may eat it, is a lie; you cannot look that man or animal in the face." I am not saying that it is not a good thing that quite apart from food-reform, anti-vivisectionists should be denouncing the doings of the Scientific Inquisition, while humanitarians of another school are exposing the horrors of sport, for Cruelty is a many-headed monster, and there must at times be a concentration of energy on a particular spot; but I do say that any reasoned principle of kindness to animals which leaves Vegetarianism outside its scope is, in the very nature of things, foredoomed to failure and decay. Vegetarianism is an essential part of any true Zoophily, and the reason why it is not more generally recognised as such is the same as that which excludes it from the plan of the Progressive—that it is so upsetting to the everyday habits of the average man. Few of us, comparatively, care to murder birds in "sport," and still fewer to cut up living animals in the supposed interests of "science," but we have all been taught to regard flesh-food as a necessity, and it is a matter, at first, of some effort and self-denial to rid ourselves of complicity in butchering. Herein is at once the strength and the weakness of the case for Vegetarianism—the strength as regards its logic, and the weakness as regards its unpopularity—that it makes more direct personal demand on the earnestness of its believers than other forms of Zoophily do; for which reason there is a widespread, though perhaps unconscious, tendency among zoophilists to evade it.

(Henry S. Salt, The Logic of Vegetarianism: Essays and Dialogues [London: The Ideal Publishing Union, 1899], 110 [italics in original])