Yesterday, on the plane to New York, I saw the movie Arbitrage. Richard Gere plays a wealthy financial consultant who seems to lead the perfect life, but deceives friends and family as he digs his own grave. In a conversation with their daughter Brooke, who has found out the truth about her father's schemes, Gere's wife says to her that Brooke needs to do what's right not for her father or for her mother, but for herself. "This is your life," she tells her daughter.
It struck me that those four words, "this is your life", can be some of the most respectful words one can utter to another living being. And I was thinking that they can also apply to our relationship with animals. To them too we can say: "This is your life". This is your life, feel free to live it, I'm not going to kill and eat you.
We're under no moral obligation to say it, we're still allowed to have many animals killed and eat them. But as far as we know we're the only species in the universe that has evolved to the point where we have moral apparatus to be able to say: "This is your life." Isn't that something?