Cute & Cuddly Versus Creepy Crawly This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

February 13, 2010
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I am not a vegetarian, and I would never claim to be one. I love me some meat, yet I can see the vegetarians' viewpoint. Even those of us who enjoy a good burger have an opinion when it comes to what meat is going in our mouths.

For instance, when my friend was telling some friends and me about her dad's business trip to South Korea, she mentioned that he was served dog. A flurry of “Oh my God” and “That's horrible” erupted around the table. One girl was nearly in tears. I sat back and wondered, What's so different about eating dog versus beef?

The difference is that most of us have experienced a special bond with a pet dog, cat, guinea pig, or whatever. We could never imagine having to kill this animal, let alone eat it.

The difference is culture. In the U.S., PETA raises a fuss every time they catch a glimpse of a star chowing down on something that was once even remotely alive. In India, cows are sacred, and eating one would be sacrilegious. In America, we've grown a new quasi-religion centered around our pets. We give them names, feed them the finest food, and even dress them up in cute clothes. We can't live without them, because we want a companion who can't live without us.

So what is so different about eating a dog versus a pig? In most supermarkets you can find a tank filled with live lobsters. And what are those ­lobsters for? They are there to be boiled, pulled apart, and eaten. Substitute a bin of kittens and a sign that reads “Live kittens, delicious when fried,” and you'll have a court case on your hands. So what's the difference between being a chef and being a criminal?

The difference is that kittens are cute and cuddly while lobsters are creepy. Lobsters have too many legs and not enough face. Lobsters won't welcome you home after a rough day, and they won't lick you on the cheek to show they care. But lobsters are still living beings. We are setting a ridiculous double-standard. Anything that we want to hug is put on a pedestal, and anything that makes us recoil in terror is “Mommy! Squish it – it's gross!”

You probably have gazed at a butterfly, flapping lazily in the sun. But wait, what's that? A spider on the wall! Bam, smack, voilà – no more spider. Humans have varying tastes. Tastes that need to be satisfied – even if that requires a little live animal boiling.

So what's the real difference? Society. A society that has idolized the cute. You can find dozens of “Puppy Per Month” calendars, but you won't find an Arachnids Weekly magazine. So, to answer the question I have asked, you're the difference, I'm the difference, we as a community, as a country, as a people, are the difference. And that makes all the difference in the world.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.

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Destinee This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Oct. 28, 2010 at 10:26 pm
Really good point. :) Not that I'm ever going to eat a cat. 
Savor~the~Moment This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Feb. 17, 2010 at 6:04 pm
Emily, it's Alice. That's a good point. I'm still gunna go eat a hamburger. ;)
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