Rethinking Tradition




Tradition is prominent in our culture. Whether it’s holidays, heritage, weddings, or whatever it may be, it’s there and more than likely something people tend to follow as a guideline. As a society, it seems like we tend to clench on to things we are familiar with compared to new or unfamiliar things. What most people don’t stop to think about is whether what they are used to doing is what they should be doing. Just because our ancestors from thousands of years ago did this or a new tradition was recently made, does not make it something we must continue to do. A perfect example of this is animal use for food.

Did our ancestors from long ago eat meat? Of course they did but it wasn’t all they ate. When you compare our time period to theirs, it’s so easy to spot the differences. Technology wasn’t nearly as advanced, or even nonexistent depending on what time period, options for food were limited, and diseases were prone. But does this mean that they didn’t evolve as human beings? No, their bodies adapted to these changes along with their brains. In fact, the only reason they evolved meat digesting organs was because of the advancing of hunting tools, increasing hunting of animals. Before this, our ancestors mostly survived off nuts, grains, plants, and fruits. As time went on, meat became more common in their diets and our bodies evolved and adapted for proper digestion and to rid of bacteria. Let’s stop for a second and compare now vs. then, though. Long ago, these people were called hunters and gatherers. What do they call us today? Humans? We basically don’t have a special name for the way we eat except for a chosen lifestyle such as vegetarian or vegan.

Although this is true, there is another name in which we could call ourselves: factory farmers.When we think of hunters and gatherers, we think of a group of people on a hunt for an animal. When we think of factory farmers, we think of a very large group of animals being raised in unsanitary, crammed spaces, in mostly unnatural conditions. Small cages so they can barely move, chains and clippings so they can’t flap their wings or escape, and even missing parts such as tails, which are cut off to prevent chewing from other pigs. As imagined, these conditions are not only hazardous to their health, but down right cruel. Now tell me, which sounds more moral? Killing an animal in the wild or killing in animal in a slaughterhouse? They both are immoral when it comes to the life of another being but fortunately enough, things are different now and neither of these options has to happen. Like advances in weapons for hunting in the past, advances in technology and agriculture make raising these animals for meat seem foolish when there are so many other sources of protein without these horrible conditions. With that being said, is it really necessary to continue to eat meat specifically for the reason that our ancestors once did? Our ancestors once believed in slavery, didn’t they? Does that make it moral in today’s time period? Of course not, and sadly it seems animals were swapped as property for the slaves in today’s culture.


Now surely those reading this would be against slavery, especially after repeatedly seeing how cruel it is to treat other humans in such a way. Just like enslavement of African Americans, Jews, and other races, what makes the enslavement of animals different? Is it because they are a different species and more physically different from us than other races and cultures of humans? Or is it simply because we need to always feel some sort of power over another being to prove to ourselves we are important? (More on speciesism can be found here).Whether it’s slavery, hangings, human sacrifice, or factory farming, in today’s society, just because others are doing it doesn’t mean it’s morally correct. Clearly, a lot of these extreme traditions have been ceased. Over time, changes are gradually made into society and we look back on it and wonder how we let ourselves do such a thing.

Specifically, the fact that factory farming is not only killing 150 billion animals a year alone, this is far more than any other number of humans killed per year. Wouldn’t it be incredible to look back at the past and wonder why we treated animals in such a way and how things have changed?

You can actually be a part of this change and it is actually a lot easier than you would think. Whether it’s getting active, cutting out meat, or any other action for animals, it all helps. Coming out of our comfort zone to relook at previous ideas makes us become better people and challenge ourselves and others. When will it be time to analyze our “tradition” of sacrificing animals for our use when the tables are not turned both ways? Is it really fair to take advantage of a different group of species because we simply can?

There is simply no excuse for these outdated actions with alternatives for meat conveniently located in grocery stores which you can learn more about here. Just because we’ve always done something some way doesn’t mean there isn’t room for improvement, change, and lessons to be learned to help shape our future.

But, as we all know, not all traditions have negatives impacts like spending time with family on holidays. These things are harmless when the aspects on them aren’t aimed towards harming other beings by doing so. It all comes down to awareness and altering what you already do to make smarter decisions not only for others, but for yourself.

“You can make a difference simply by the choices you make every single day. I don’t care what the world does. You’re not the world, you are you. And you can make a change for yourself, the animals, and the world.” 

Here’s a short video on our of our culture’s traditions and why they need to be further looked at.