What kind of image of animals are young children shown and how do they come into contact with animals?

  • Cartoons: animals are presented as people
  • Fairy-tales: animals play an active part, often representing negative human character traits
  • Books to read to children: animals talking like people
  • Toys: often wild animals for playmates; coloring pictures analogous to cartoons
  • Pets: often dogs and/or cats
  • Children's farm: idyllic picture of the farms of old
  • Zoo: "wild" animals as sluggish creatures, seemingly resigned to their tight existence.
  • Circus: amusement for young and old, animals performing tricks imitating people (in costumes), with man in a superior role.
  • Shopping centers: butchers (the pig or chicken is advertising its own meat), animals in shop windows of pet stores.

Nowhere are animals represented in a way even closely resembling reality. The message is: animals are going to be fine, they are often smarter than people (or the opposite), and they don't mind being eaten. In short, animals are the perfect consumer item: they deserve their fate, they don't complain and what's more, they taste good.
The way animals are treated in a speciecist way, colors the image children get of animals in a condescending way (circus; people are above animals).
Of their own accord, many children are inclined to take animals seriously, when they realize it comes from animals they no longer want to eat meat. By twisting the truth about animals, adults are undermining the moral thought processes of children and are making them feel that compassion is inappropriate. The child is slowly prepared for the schizophrenic way in which adults treat animals.

It is important for children to learn empathy: to be sensible to another's feelings. For animals this means gentleness and respect. The animals portrayed in the roles mentioned above do not seem to feel pain. This teaches children the wrong sort of love, confusing love with dependency.