Animal stewardship, religion and academia

cow-farmingI’ve been so occupied with the drama of decisions and apps that I’ve barely spent any time on this blog talking about the issue that brought me here: Animals.

There was a fascinating article in the New York Times the other day titled, “Scholars Explore Christian Perspectives on Animal Rights.” I’m not a scholar and I’m not Christian, so I was surprised with how some of the ideas shared in the piece resonated with me.

In “For Love of Animals,” Dr. Camosy … [argues] that the Catholic ethics of respect for life and care for the vulnerable should make us reconsider how we treat animals. The Catholic catechism permits meat eating, he told me, “but with two qualifications: we owe animals kindness, and it’s wrong to cause them to suffer needlessly.”

The clear implication, he said, is that except for the poor who can’t get food other ways, everyone has a duty at least to avoid eating factory-farmed animals.

I totally agree with Camosy’s idea. I’m a fan of the whole slow food movement and eating locally and supporting local farmers and everything. But…my major problem with the entire thing is that to participate in these behaviors, you need money.  I currently don’t spend the extra money on free-range or grass-fed meat products, but I think that I should and that I eventually will…once I reach a certain income level. I’m definitely not poor right now, but Whole Foods isn’t nicknamed Whole Paycheck for nothing. Currently, I think avoiding eating factory-farmed animals and similar behaviors are generally an indulgence for those of higher socioeconomic status. And having money shouldn’t be a requirement in order to behave responsibly. That’s why my favorite part of the quote is the “except for the poor who can’t get food other ways” part.  But, unlike Camosy, I don’t think there is anything specifically wrong with consuming animals. But I do think we need to figure out an environmentally friendly and scaleable way to support the food industry as a whole.

My second favorite part of that quote is when Camosy says that “we owe animals kindness.” Owing kindness is a very gentle and general way to describe the responsibility we have. It kind of reminds me of the phrase “animal stewardship.” I love the word stewardship (Say it with me: The dictionary defines stewardship as “the careful and responsible management of something entrusted to one’s care.”).  I think stewardship also implies a certain level of distance. We do what we can to support these creatures, but hopefully not in an overly invasive way. Of course, there’s lots to debate about that, but it’s an idea I like to keep in mind.

Animals might not be the first thing you think of in conjunction with business school, but I’m realizing that there are a lot more intersections than I once thought. The food industry, of course. Social entrepreneurship. The booming pet industry. International government issues like animal trafficking and smuggling. Nonprofit work. That’s why an MBA is really valuable–you can apply it almost anywhere and in any sector.

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3 thoughts on “Animal stewardship, religion and academia

  1. Hi Sir,
    Appreciate your amazing article.I could connect with it upto quite an extent. But I had a query and would really request you to please help with it. I love animals like hell and a pure veg. I dont even use animals products like leather. My mission is to do something for them. But I aspire to do MBA too. But I am not able to connect the too. Reading your article made me realize that maybe you can show me some overall picture of how being an MBA I can be of help to animals. I will be waiting for your reply. please do reply.

    Thanks
    Garima

    • Hello Garima. I’m new to this whole process, too, so I’m afraid I can’t give you any foolproof advice. The way I see it, an MBA can give you skills that you can apply anywhere–management/leadership skills, for instance, and how to do general quantitative analysis. The degree may not be valued equally in various sectors, but I think there is a general movement among nonprofits toward adopting more hard-line business practices, and an MBA can demonstrate that you have that know how.

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