If you hold to be a good person you cannot look a pig in the eyes; nor any other sentient being we prey on.
We kill them in masses to pig ourselves lavishly. Not to speak about the vicious crime, easy to discern, of hunting for mere pleasure, without excuse of hunger or defense.
You can enjoy ignorance for long years but when the thought comes at last to you it is clear; on one hand - if it comes to food - it is us or them, on the other hand the way we treat them is evil.
Renouncing to eat life would be betraying our life, this beastly thing in us, half of our nature, our most precious and sacred possession. We would not listen to the clandestine suicides of humankind tempting us to gradually stop eating. For the time being at least we will sacrifice to eat. But we also close our eyes to mass torture in cold blood. That is debasing humanity.
This is not good.
And why is the sacrifice of other beings done without restraint and so cruelly? First of all, for money, to have them plenty and cheep to sell and buy. The grand monstrosity comes with industrial production and urge for profit. Granting animals a livable life before we devour them would diminish productivity and thus the offer, therefore increasing price and rarity. Humane, the poor nations could not multiply to cover the earth crust to the last shore and the rich ones would have to eat meat twice a week like our ancestors. So, we keep delegating the butchery to the butchers who only follow orders, out of sight and out of our mind. Occasionally we cry in our soup.
Nothing will be done to really improve the animal condition as long as we remain predators in our souls, until we include the Rights of Animals - whatever we deign to concede them to be - as part of the Rights of Man, aware of us being half-animal, brother of all things alive.
No politician will announce such news in a democracy, except at gunpoint. No free voting crowd would plebiscite animal rights, fasting or even restraint. The tyrant – and there will be new ones, no doubt – will consider such meekness to be against their very nature of predators or they will fear to excite the human beast more than they fear the human person.
Growing them humanely, allowing them a life cycle, room to move, to be, to play, their moments of joy, killing them as swiftly as we have the skill, would still be morally schizophrenic but could balance ritually the sacrifice; we must feed the animal in us or die but we would do it with as much pity and respect as possible for the enlightened beast which we want to be.
What to do then?
The one, the only one who can act is us, you and I, in our weakness, with small steps, seemingly insignificant.
The ice age hunters learned to respect their pray and to commune with it aware that their lives were linked. The North American Indians knew deference for the buffaloes. In fact all firsthand hunters living from their neighbour creatures understand the need to spare, respect and protect the pray, not to spit into the fountain from which they drink. Maybe this was not just naive folklore and illiterate superstition; maybe they respected the victim to be able to respect themselves. We know what pain and fear and horror is.
Perhaps, those of us who pause before eating to thank God for the bread, could add a word of thanks to the animal who gave them its life. This could be a good start, seemingly small, but with possibly unexpected consequences. Imagine yourself finding the words to thank to the chicken or the veal who was this piece of meat you are about to eat! "Thank you little creature for dying in order for me to live and feel sate!" Do you have the stomach do it?
We could find a public way back towards the old-time respect for the prey.
As a person, I would do what I can; eat less meat, which is good for my health, anyway; punish the callous animal abuser when I find out and can; treat my pets with love and smile to the animals I meet (if I feel safe); refrain from killing without reason; feed and protect if I can; reject hunting for pleasure; request the State to do its’ duty of policing cruelty and the poisoning our food (and us with it) for profit margins.
I know, I cannot toy with Money, stupidity and hungry people, I cannot arrogantly advise other people what they must eat, but if I eat less I can pay more coins for better, less unhealthy quality (provided I can trust the “bio” labels which I cannot now). Egoism pays.
These are small things, insignificant in the grand scheme of the Universe. Do they count? Yes, they do! It is not the one thousand things you are forced to do which make you who you are but the one thing you can chose and do freely.
Does your tiny compassion for this one count in front of a hecatomb? Yes, it counts for you and it is vital for this one animal our brother.