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New research has found that children are less likely than adults to think of animals as food.
A study carried out by researchers from both the University of Exeter and Oxford University found that the majority of children think farm animals should be treated as well as humans. However, this opinion begins to somewhat lessen by the time they reach their teenage years.
The researchers quizzed 479 people from three different groups in England: kids aged nine to 11, a group of young adults aged 18 to 21, and a group of older adults between the ages of 29 and 59. All participants were shown pictures of various animals, foods and other items and asked to class them as ‘food’, ‘pet’ or ‘object’.
Treat humans and animals the same
The majority of the children believed humans and farm animals should be treated the same, with many dismissing the idea of eating an animal, at least compared to the adults interviewed.
Researchers say the survey tells us more about the development of ‘speciesism’, which is the belief that one species is superior to another.
They say the responses suggest that speciesism is likely to be mostly learned during adolescence (the time between being a child and an adult). However, the children did think that “chimps ought to be treated better than pigs, and pigs better than rats”, so they had already decided that some species were on different levels in some ways.
The report says: “Humans’ relationship with animals is full of ethical [what’s right and wrong] double standards.
"Some animals are beloved household companions, while others are kept in factory farms for economic benefit. Judgments seem to largely depend on the species of the animal in question: dogs are our friends, pigs are food.”
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World Tapir Day
Highlights the impact of human activities such as mining, deforestation, farming and hunting on the four species of tapir. See www.tapirday.org.
Stop Food Waste Day
Global day of action to tackle food waste. Find out more at www.stopfoodwasteday.com website.
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