A Challenge for Mr. Zuckerberg

Posted by Carter Dillard, ALDF's Director of Litigation on June 1, 2011

By now many readers will have heard of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s recent announcement that he will only eat animals that he personally killed. He’s since boiled to death a lobster and cut a goat’s throat. Why? Zuckerberg is known for taking on personal challenges, and he believes people “should take responsibility and be thankful for what they eat rather than trying to ignore where it came from."

Zuckerberg deserves credit for getting at least halfway through a mental lesson most people never bother to start. A new personal challenge could be for him to take this thought process to its logical conclusion, and to then act.

Zuckerberg is right. People don’t want to know the truth about the suffering and death that goes into their meat. They don’t want to know because they foresee themselves – as animals hardwired to understand the feelings of other animals – empathizing with the lobster or goat, seeing that creature mirror back a shared ability to suffer, and valuing its life the way they do. It’s not a pleasant mental experience. But, as Mr. Zuckerberg points out, ignoring all of that seems unfair – like getting something for nothing.

But Mr. Zuckerberg falls a bit short by not taking the thought where it obviously wants to go: Suffering and death are not only so meaningful that we should be compelled to see them, but they are so because qualitatively, and inescapably, they are horrifying things. They are things all living animals, humans, goats, and lobsters alike, do almost everything to avoid. To appreciate their significance as Mr. Zuckerberg has opted to do is admirable. But to do so completely he will have to also share the horror those animals have, as he has, of the experience.

To ignore the qualities of suffering and death is as objectionable as ignoring their significance. Once he has truly empathized with animals, he will have all the reasons not to inflict suffering and death on them that he has to prevent the same from being inflicted on him. He will then only need to act on those reasons.

Yes, we should know the pain and death we cause when we eat meat – but that means truly feeling and absorbing the horror they entail. And, yes, if we have done that, because we would not want to experience these things, we will not inflict them on others. Mr. Zuckerberg’s next personal challenge could be to act on this insight and go vegan. Doing so would show animals not just the attention but also the compassion they, like us, yearn for.


13 thoughts on “A Challenge for Mr. Zuckerberg

  1. eliza says:

    Once again you guys rock. TOUCHE !!!!

  2. Doug says:

    I appreciate this perspective, but I think you give Mr. Zuckerberg too much credit. The fact that he is comfortable killing animals with his own hands signals to me that he is beyond hope.

    I think that most people remain willfully ignorant about where their food comes from and if they we’re forced to kill animals for food, they simply would not do it. The meat industry has done such an amazing job of packaging, branding, and obscuring the origin of their product, that I don’t think the average consumer has the stomach to do it themselves. When faced with the bloody and cruel reality of what it entails, I think that compassion and empathy would kick in for most people.

    I think Mr. Zuckerberg is the exception to the rule, and though his approach may be more honest then most folks, it also shows to me a lack of compassion and character.

  3. Julie Sibbing says:

    If ALDF is going to start going after folks that are trying to raise awareness of such things as humane slaughter, you might as well be PETA. Do you really think all of your donors are vegan?

  4. elizabeth says:

    There is no such thing as humane killing. Where did that come from anyway?

    The thing is, we were never supposed to eat flesh. We were supposed to be a lot smarter but that didn’t happen either.

    These creatures that were put on this earth, first I might say, were given rights the same as we. They had the right to be free from man and his never ending abuse. Where did man ever get the idea that we had the right to eat them, wear them or whatever else someone can come up with. Our species is just down right selfish. The idea that people wouldn’t be able to eat their flesh makes people actually have a period of shock…and the funny thing is, we call ourselves humans, and we call them ‘an animal.’ Strange that we eat them.

    So Mark instead of killing do something humane and eat what is better for you and these innocent creatures. Try eating something that doesn’t come from a living, breathing creature!

    DO THE RIGHT THING!

  5. Robert says:

    Apparently Julie thinks farm animals should somehow be excluded from ALDF’s concerns? If we focus only on companion animals, animals in labs and wildlife and ignore the plight of the 10 billion farm animals that are killed for food every year, would that really be demonstrating a consistent set of values? If reducing animal suffering is ALDF’s goal and if part of that goal is to reduce the suffering to the greatest number of sentient beings, then farm animals should be the dominant focus of their efforts.

  6. Linda says:

    Causing an animal to suffer in order to eat the animal is not going far enough. I suggest that Mr. Zuckerberg hold his hand in the boiling water for 5 seconds before putting the lobster in, every time he gets the urge to eat a lobster. And he might want to try cutting a sensitive part of his body before cutting an animal’s throat, every time he wants to eat an animal. It is also worth keeping in mind that the animal does not volunteer to participate in this pain, and does not reap any benefit from being killed. The decision to face the hard fact of where your meat comes from might ease a carnivore’s conscience a little, but the animal really won’t appreciate your consciousness-raising.

  7. Kasia says:

    If Mark wants to touch his primal voice, why won’t we help him and ship him far far away, abandon him in the middle of a jungle so he can really fight for his survival… and water to cook his lobster…

  8. Gerie says:

    I respectfully disagree with Julie’s comment. I don’t think ALDF is “going after folks [who] are trying to raise awareness of such things as humane slaughter….” First, “humane slaughter” is an oxymoron. And the fact that doing the right thing is inconvenient or unpopular does not make doing the wrong thing any less wrong.

  9. Shaidy says:

    Would you slit the throat of your dog or cat? NO. Then why do it to goats? What’s the difference?! People find all kinds of excuses to justify getting off on torturing animals, just like they did a few hundred years ago torturing slaves and children. JOIN THE REST OF US IN THE 21ST CENTURY ZUCKERBERG!!! You’re not a caveman!

  10. Janet in Cambridge says:

    Answer this question: “Would you do it to your dog/cat/companion animal?” Why should a goat/cow/calf/pig be any different? It’s all cultural and we need to own up to that and deal with why we can justify killing animals.

    Mr. Zuckerberg seems to think that if he kills an animal with his bare hands and says that it’s better because he knows where his meal came from that’s somehow better than eating farmed animals.

  11. Jim says:

    Zuckerberg is an amimal murderer, plain and simple. He is completely bored with his life, suffering from a Napolean Complex, and feels the need to accomplish something even more. Don’t sympathize with him, chastise him!

  12. Murray Creighton says:

    All the money & fame has gone to his head. He has no humility, no shame & lives off the computer generated clicks of others. He has fallen from his/the groups ideals and is on a path of no return.

  13. Lydia Schiro says:

    This sounds like a very sick excuse to kill and take out his rage on helpless animals. I don’t buy his lies for a second. He obviously has suppressed anger and rage and is using this ruse as an excuse to vent on these poor animals. There is something very deep in his personality that is very scary.

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