For almost the entire 28+ years we've known each other, my wife has been a carnivore and I have been a vegetarian. It means that we often don't eat meals together and, when we do, we don't necessarily eat the same things. (One of the reasons we don't eat that many meals together is that there are several meat-based dishes that I simply can't "stomach" being around.)
Della has often remarked that she too would be a vegetarian if she had to kill her own meat. In fact, she's even said that this extends to having to watch someone else slaughter the poor creature intended for her meal!
I think there are many people like her. As long as they don't have to watch and think about the process used to kill the animals they consume, they are quite okay with gorging themselves on a dead carcass. It follows the old adage: Outta Sight, Outta Mind.
David Sirota touched on this theme in his Friday column, Horrors We Hide. While he too addresses the dietary angle, he takes the "outta sight, outta mind" idea much farther.
Today, for example, free trade policies that promote offshoring allow Americans to enjoy consumer goods at ultra-low prices without having to see that those low prices represent companies taking advantage of the developing world’s poverty wages, environmental destruction and human rights abuses. A veritable slave may have assembled the iPad you are reading these words on, but thanks to the supply chain’s geography and Apple’s lack of transparency, you can easily avoid dealing with the ethical implications of that reality.I'm certainly not suggesting that Americans are alone in this avoidance of thinking about unpleasant facts -- it is highly prevalent in most developed countries -- but we Americans have turned it into a high-scale art form. Most of the consumer-based decisions we make are devoid of crucial information AND WE LIKE IT THAT WAY!
Another example: Many Americans drive gas-guzzling SUVs, proudly slapping patriotic declarations on their bumpers. This seems perfectly reasonable, but only because many either don’t live near polluted oil-drilling sites or don’t have to personally experience the ramifications of our petroleum-focused military policies. Ultimately, by separating the consequences of gas consumption from the driver, we’ve created the psychological conditions for fossil fuel consumption to seem like an honorable statement of strength rather than an endorsement of environmental degradation and war.
Hey, if we had to spend the time really thinking about all the stuff we buy day-in and day-out, that would be damn tiring. Do it too often and most of us would pull a brain muscle! Who wants to waste time icing down your brain? Besides, how do you wrap a brain in an ace bandage?
Needless to say, the true reasons we don't want to think too deeply about prospective purchases comes down to two reasons: 1) We might decide the more moral or ethical thing to do is not to buy the crap we desperately want to buy anyway or 2) We will buy it anyway, but feel disgustingly guilty for doing it! So, in order to avoid denying ourselves or feeling guilty because we didn't, it's so much easier to avoid thinking about the ramifications altogether...because intentioned ignorance is bliss!!
For another opinion on this general subject matter, see Knowledge This, Ignorance That from the blog, God Loves Gravity.