Talking meat… is it right?

In the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy there is a famous clip where in a restaurant at the end of the universe, they find a pig that wants to be eaten.

Basically they get to the restaurant and order their meal, and then the waiter brings the pig out to the table on a trolley, and then the pig says

“Good evening madame and gentlemen, I am the main dish of the day. May I interest you in parts of my body?”

They all look bemused when he carries on by saying

“Something of my shoulder perhaps, brazed in a little white wine sauce”

Arthur then exclaims

“Your shoulder!!!”

to this the pig replies

“Well naturally mine sir, nobody else’s is mine to offer!”

the scene carries on with the pig suggesting different ways in which it could be eaten. After the pig has finished someone exclaims

“You mean this animal actually wants us to eat it”

and Arthur follows this up by saying

“I don’t want to eat an animal that is lying there inviting me to”

he then goes on to say how he thinks it is horrible, before he is replied to with

“It’s better than eating an animal that doesn’t want to be eaten.”

Arthur demands a green salad. The pig seems sad that he has been given the ability of speech, in order to inform the travellers that he wants to be eaten, and yet this very function makes them not want to consume him.

The pig that wants to be eaten from the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

Arthur Dent from the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy sitting next to a pig that has told him that he wants to be eaten

If a pork joint had just been placed in front of him, no doubt Arthur would have eaten it, so why does he refuse to when the animal it is going to come from speaks to him?

I can draw two explanations

  1. The very fact that the pig can talk makes Arthur feel that this is no longer an animal, but it is closer to a human, as it is able to consciously form and respond to sentences
  2. The idea of eating something that has just asked to be eaten turned Arthur’s stomach, so that he couldn’t bring himself to eat the pig, imagine eating it and remembering it talking to you

If we gave animals the ability to speak and then only ate the ones that didn’t mind, or even wanted to be eaten, would that make it any more morally justifiable/right to do so?

Who’s to say the pig hadn’t been told to say that, maybe genetic engineering pre-programmed it to believe that it wanted to be eaten. Is that right?

What’s your opinion of the whole situation of talking meat, is it right? Does it make eating meat any more moral? Do we only prefer it not to talk as it ‘lightens our conciousness’ whilst eating it?

2 Responses

  • Hi there.

    I am interested in why you stress ‘and respond’ (in ‘it is able to consciously form *and respond* to sentences’) . .

    • Hi Nick, thanks for the comment 🙂

      I stressed the and respond bit of the sentence as being able to respond adds another level to communication. Okay the pig may have been taught to speak and recite things, however by responding it shows a greater level of consciousness and understanding, as the pig can interact with Arthur.

      I hope this helps 🙂

      Christopher

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