Thursday, 5 July 2012

Garfield and vegetarianism

Cats aren't naturally vegetarian. I mention this because of two things that happened last week; I watched Garfield 2 on TV, then the next night I cooked a vegetarian lasagne for a dinner party. My vegetarian lasagne is a big affair, an hour and a half on the tomato sauce with another hour to bake it after assembling all the various components. It's my mother's recipe and I have always preferred it to meat-based lasagnes. Apparently outside of my world though, "lasagne" usually does mean "beef lasagne." Which made one scene in Garfield seem rather bizarre.
Garfield has, by virtual of terrible plot devices, become the lord of a large group of sentient animals in the English countryside, all of whom are apparently capable of communicating with one another. His grand command is for them to bake a massive lasagne from scratch, which they then eat with great relish.
One of his chefs is a cow. The ingredients of the lasagne are never shown or specified, but would Garfield, a carnivorous cat, really be so obsessed with vegetarian lasagne? The cow is helping the other animals cook and eat one of it's own kind, essentially practising cannibalism.
But maybe this is a vegetarian lasagne, Garfield being sensitive and sparing the cow the horrors of being forced to cook and eat beef. Even so, he eats a whole turkey in an early scene. In a world where every animal is sentient and sapient, with a distinct personality and capable of communicating, how can Garfield justify this? Does he think it acceptable to have a conversation with an animal one day and eat it the next? If he desires another lasagne, would he have his new friend the cow-chef butchered and eaten?
If the premise of Garfield were true, and all animals were as intelligent and sapient as we are, could we justify eating meat? Or would it be as taboo as cannibalism is today? And if so, then why are we so convinced now that meat-eating is completely justified? If there is even the slightest hint that Garfield's world is possible, surely we should hold off. Isn't it better to go without meat and not kill potentially sapient creatures than to eat meat on the assumption that we are justified?

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