Why are certain animals expensive?

Cheap meat and love for pets: The Germans' selective love for animals

Animal rights are increasingly being observed in Germany, but love for fellow creatures is very selective. That means: yes to the manicure set for well-groomed paws - but also to cheap meat from the discounter.

Almost everyone today sees themselves as an animal lover

Animal protection can take extreme forms in Germany. In spring there was a vigil in Hanover for the fighting dog Chico, who had bitten his owner and her son to death. He was then put to sleep, also due to a severe jaw injury. Around 80 people laid flowers, candles and stuffed dogs at the vigil. "Chico has been murdered," it said on a poster. Death threats were received against the veterinarians and officials involved.

For the sociologist Julia Gutjahr from the University of Hamburg, some of the incidents can be explained with a new sensitivity to the fate of animals. Almost everyone today sees themselves as an animal lover. “At the same time, empathy with animals remains highly selective and ambivalent,” says Gutjahr.

"Animals are divided into edible and non-edible"

On World Animal Day on October 4, it can be said that animal rights are given more attention - but they themselves only benefit to a limited extent. Certain animals cannot be close enough to humans. Pre-warmed pillows, pinscher with poncho or manicure sets for well-groomed paws - nothing is too fancy or too expensive when it comes to the welfare of dogs and cats. At the same time, a kilo of meat is often available for less money than a kilo of strawberries or a pack of cigarettes.

The contradiction is explained by the fact that domestic and farm animals are classified in completely different categories. “In our society, animals are divided into edible and inedible,” says the psychologist Tamara Pfeiler from the University of Mainz. The distinction between domestic and farm animals emerged in the course of industrialization, when large numbers of people moved to the cities and from then on only lived with very specific animals under one roof.

Personal confrontation with roasts is not desirable

Pets have since become family members. "This is something completely different from a farm animal," explains the nutritional psychologist Christoph Klotter from the Fulda University of Applied Sciences. "We can never compare the cat Bijou with the anonymous pig."

Animals for slaughter do not appear alive in the lives of most Germans. Personal confrontation with the roast is by no means desirable. Last year a farmer offered live geese in Cologne's pedestrian zone as a holiday feast in the run-up to Christmas. Interested customers could choose an animal, which was then stunned, beheaded and plucked by the farmer. Many passers-by were shocked, some burst into tears. It was unequivocally certain that the free-range geese from the farm had led a happy life by then. They were as "organic" as possible. Nevertheless, most people did not want to expose themselves to the transformation from live goods to meat products - nine of the ten animals were ultimately ransomed.

Split relationship with animals

The experiment on the WDR program “Planet Wissen” revealed once again the divided relationship to animals. “Chicken feet are exported from Germany to Africa,” explains Klotter. "Because the Germans would tip over in horror if they saw parts of the chicken that reminded them that it was once an animal."

The same animal lover who carries an insect out of the house and carefully releases it in the garden can also get his schnitzel from the discounter. From television documentaries one has a vague idea of ​​the miserable circumstances under which most farm animals are kept, “but there is no direct link to one's own behavior,” explains animal ethics philosopher Friederike Schmitz. “When I lock up a dog, it yells. In many cases with pets, I immediately see the effects of my actions. But when I buy meat, I don't see the direct effect on the animal in question. "

"Meat reduction and meat avoidance is a big issue"

Nevertheless, it is very clear that animal welfare is gaining in importance, emphasizes sociologist Marcel Sebastian from the University of Hamburg. "Meat reduction and meat avoidance is a big issue." It is difficult to determine the percentage of vegetarians in the population. However, it is undisputed that it is increasing and that the market is reacting accordingly. “Many meat companies now also offer vegetarian products. The media are reporting more and more frequently that non-fiction books on animal welfare topics are becoming bestsellers. It is also gaining increasing political relevance to deal with animal welfare. "

Sebastian therefore believes that the topic will become even more important in the future. “There is a need to renegotiate the relationship with animals, including farm animals. My prognosis is that we are facing a fundamental change. "

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