Christine Overall, ed., Pets and People: The Ethics of Our Relationships with Companion Animals
When it comes to our thinking about ethical issues concerning our use of nonhuman animals, the only thing that is clear is that our thinking is terribly confused.
On one hand, many of us live with nonhuman companions whom we love and think of as members of our families. They play a significant role in our lives, and, in some cases, our emotional bonds to them are at least as strong as those we share with other humans. When our animal companions die, we often grieve as or more intensely than we do for those humans we have loved and who have passed.
On the other hand, we eat, wear, and use animals. We kill approximately 70 billion land animals worldwide annually for food alone. The number of fishes and other sea animals killed annually is not known but a conservative estimate is one trillion. Let’s put this in some perspective. Since the beginning of time, there have been—in total—about 110 billion humans who have lived and died. We kill more nonhuman animals than that every single year...