Strangely, an eloquently written piece on the minds of sheep, entitled Think Sheep Are Stupid? Think Again, is written for a farming website, a farm supplies site to be exact.
The author is not alone in recognising the intellect and socio-emotional capacities of sheep, yet failing utterly to question the human use of them as commodities. It would be difficult for most farmers to live alongside sheep and other farmed animals and fail to recognise that they are unique individuals who have friends and families whose company they enjoy, care for their children with the same precious devotion as humans, play, get tired, love having fun and avoid harm, and recognise each other and the humans who feed and care for them. Most farmers fool themselves into believing that they care about them and would never kill them because they ‘sell them on’. But they all know that every lamb they breed onto the face of this earth ends up in a slaughterhouse, their bodies on someone’s dinner plate and their wool on human backs.
We do not use intelligence as a prerequisite for justice towards other humans. Since when did it become necessary for our respect of other animals?
The author writes about the relative intelligence of sheep supposedly indicating that human intelligence is superior. An important marker of the intelligence of a species is its capacity to adapt to its environment, especially in changing conditions. On that score we are failing miserably; we have controlled, exploited and dominated the natural world and brought it to the brink of disaster. We object vehemently to the changes we need to make to adapt to a changing world with limited resources that is on the precipice of breakdown, even when the very survival of our children and our own species is at stake. Yet, we deem it appropriate to measure the intelligence of other animals through the lens of our own, even though we have forced them into a completely unnatural environment, living short lives in confinement; domesticated and selectively bred so that they can be exploited for their flesh, milk and wool in a human world.
At Go Vegan World we know sheep very intimately because we live with them and care for them on our vegan sanctuary, Eden Farmed Animal Sanctuary. We recognise their intelligence but we know that the only requirement for us not to use and kill them is not because of how smart they are, not because they are fun to be with, but because they can feel as we do. That is why we are vegan.