@ Zorba: So you think we just leave things as they are? To hell with health and everything, just let the kids go to McDonalds every day because they don't know any better? To hell with education, it's their own fault they know nothing about where food comes from, how it is produced, etc.? So we simply ignore that many teenagers are too fat? We simply ignore that many young children go to school malnourished and hungry every day? Yeah, just let them do that, it's their upbringing, and their motivations are complex, what do we know about it. So we simply ignore the spiral of poverty and debts many families live in, why should we bother to teach their children that it can work differently? Brilliant idea.
No, it does not necessarily follow that we should stand by and do nothing. However, if we want to create programs to re-educate the fat teenagers - whether through the state or through NGOs - we must understand the motivations for why people go to McDonalds in the first place.
That may be part of it, but it would seem to me you're overemphasising the "understanding" part here (perhaps even overempathising
with the perpetrator, if you will, and rather underempathising with their victims
). Because, in sum, what you contend looks to me to be a mere condensation of that famous French aphorism "tout comprendre, c'est tout pardonner". I mean, it's not like people who advocate the abolishment of factory farming don't understand that many people -like the ones you mentioned- may have other things on their minds than the lot of animals, or think that their implication in it means that they must be nailed to a cross in punishment. It just doesn't really do much for the animals to stop after reciting the relativistic mantra, is all.
You seem hold that, basically, a concern form animal welfare is, in a way, a luxury product, élitist, and rather bound up with a snobbish attitude. In many cases this may be so, but the same goes for all charitative activities (picture the typical well-to-do dainty ladies of class ever so busy to raise funds for the poor children in Africa, or the[often rich] philanthropists wailing over the thriftiness of the West when it comes to contributing to alleviate the general human condition elsewhere).
I would remark two things here:
1. your observation, the validity of which I don't contest, seems to hint more at the suspiciousness of the well-doers
than it does to the misguidedness of the cause (if alleviating hunger in Africa is no moot cause) and
2. the mere comprehensibility
of people's indifference -in this case to how their meat is procured- hardly entails its palatibility. To accept
it in this case, simply because you can see where they're coming from, is to tolerate any act of cruelty (on humans or animals), provided you have sufficient imagination to understand why the perpetrator(s) did it.
And even if you wouldn't understand, why would that make you feel entitled to impose your sentiments on others, if you won't tolerate animal welfare advocates imposing theirs in turn?
Ahh, and just to avoid any misunderstandings here: I'm not actually of the believe that vegetarianism/veganism is going anywhere. In that sense it is
like you said: the typical working class people (and more alarmingly still: even most "educated", wealthy people) are simply unable, from a combination of lack of time and lack of empathy, to feel, well, anything
really for that which, or those who, don't directly and palpably concern them. What a world, what a world!