Everyone wants to live with a clear and clean conscience. A clear conscience provides rest and you can be proud of it. A clear conscience has to do with the conviction that you are making the right choices. Everyone once had to make a choice of which he knew it would affect animals, for instance eating meat.
How to deal with the contrasts in making ones choices? The answer comes with learning how to choose and to detach. Sometimes it is wise to make a choice, and sometimes you don't have to choose. But when do you know what is best? We deal with a number of questions that have to do with choices that, in the end, also influence the life of animals. The relationship between mankind and animals is the touchstone of human civilization.
Positive and negative motivation Purity and others

The conscience is both the starting as well as end point of the process of choosing. The conscience puts you before choices and also evaluates your choices. It is good if a clear conscience is based upon positive motives. It can however also be based upon negative motivation. You may f.e. behave ethical out of being afraid to be punished, in the present or later. This does not show high standards and also points towards sheer self-interest. Fear and moral dilemma moreover get in the way of a true compassion with others (man or animal). Finally, a negative motivation brings no rest.

Once studying purity, you will soon find out that the word purity or fineness has a somewhat sterile overtone. And sometimes even draws back. In particular when a "pure" way of life is being forced upon by others or has its consequences for others, for example when a society is being "cleansed" from unwanted elements. In cattle farming: when a farm is being cleared due to Foot&Mouth or BSE. Then freedom and solidarity are at stake.

The one, direct side:
Not eating meat
The other, indirect side:
Health and taste
Whoever eats meat, has an animal die for him or her. If for the sake of your life and health you do not want to sacrifice animals, you have to become a vegetarian or vegan. That is a pure weighing. Thereupon it is necessary though to do a little extra effort in order to stay healthy, because simply skipping meat from your menu and not adding something extra can influence your health in a negative way. He or she who tries to achieve purity by simply giving up, runs the risk that this may lead to shortages. Also there is a fair chance that the food becomes too tame. Choose a healthy and varied menu. If you are serious about it, you will never long for your old food habits no more. Meat consists of ingredients that your body can use to maintain a healthy balance. But meat is being degraded first in your digestive organs.Therefore it is also possible to stay healthy by feeding yourself these essential ingredients directly. Almost all the necessary elements are found in plants (vegetables). All it takes is to practise yourself in tasty preparation of the right combination of these elements. Do a bit of reading and research and you will find out that the number of possibilities to combine vegetables and protein-replacements in an appetizing and pretty manner, is countless. As a consequence, health is automatically guaranteed by the variations of your menu.
To do - to know To leave out - to forget
In order to have a clear conscience with regard to animals it doesn't take doing a lot, but you can however do many things for animals. On this website we show several examples. It is important that you do know what your actions may bring forth for animals. By "actions" we mean your choice of food, of clothing, of keeping pets or not, and the ways of entertainment with animals you might favor. To develop a clear conscience in respect of animals it is mainly a matter of leaving things out: not eating meat and fish, not wearing fur or leather clothes and not keeping pets that did not come from a shelter or asylum.
What does matter is to forget that using animals would be essential for your health or for your or other people's well-being. Those are mainly fallacies and sometimes such untruths or myths are the cause of animal suffering.
Freedom To set limits

People strive for freedom, and are entitled to freedom. No-one is obliged to turn in his freedom for the sake of others, but someone who materializes his freedom by never minding other people's interests, is acting anti-social. Emancipation does not stop with the black fellow man and with women rights, but also concerns animals. Animals too have a right to freedom. The awkward thing is that animals cannot fight for this right. We, humans, will have to liberate society from an injust treatment of animals. It ought to be legally justified and supported that it is a human right to tackle others on injustices they cause to animals.

Freedom is a meaningless concept when no limits can be set. Limits mark a free area. In order to enter someone elses territory, you have to respectfully ask or negotiate his or her permission. Respect means keeping an appropriate distance to the other person. This distance enables the other person to make clear in a reasonable way what he or she is or is not willing to allow.

Animals also make clear when others trespass their borders. But animals that are kept within industrial farming under unnatural conditions, cannot show to the consumer anymore that their limits were ignored and borders exceeded. Man himself should be the judge of that.

The individual interest The general interest of society

The quality of life of an individual is partly depending on his ability to take care of himself and partly on the conditions that are provided by a society. Every individual has to decide in his life to what extent he makes use of the possibilities that society offers and in how far he or she is a supplier of quality to others. What you do for your own Self, you do for a fellow creature, be it human or animal. What you do for an other being, you do for the Self.

Politically spoken it comes down to knowing when you vote liberal and when socialist parties. Some parties intend to exceed these two opposite choices by presenting themselves as liberal-socialists, but that sometimes blurs the true character of political issues. A similar pure reflection, may by the way at a certain moment lead to a liberal vote and at some other moment to a choice for social politics. Therefore the historical context is important.

With regard to animals kept in cattle farming the question is whether the interest of the farming business exceeds the interest of the animal. If a shortage on food would occur in a society (which happened in Europe during and after the Second World War), it is reasonable to give the farmer more freedom in order to produce much food. In our contemporary Western nations however, there is no famine problem; the only hunger that can be pointed at is the urge of the industrial farmer to earn a lot of money. When the farmer is not subjected to rules and regulations, this would cost the quality of life to the animals in his stables.

The quality of life within society depends on the offers that its individuals, who together form a society, are prepared to bring. "Every" working member pays taxes. Yet money is not the only thing a society can run itself by. To stick to social rules, requirements and decency is also of importance, preferably voluntarily. These matters, in a way, are universal. To a certain extent it is also necessary that again and again these requirements are being re-determined. Should that not be the case, then societies become rigid and can only function if rules are ignored or offences are being tolerated.

In politics every time again the balance is settled anew; sometimes liberals win some, sometimes socialists do and sometimes christian-democrats parties. If this balance is settled by means of an election-war where themes are an issue that have to do with the sense of security of people, than fundamental needs are at stake. The interests of the animal are once again forgotten: "morals first, then food".
In times of famine it is the opposite but the result is the same: the animal is forgotten. This matters in as far as people who want to make money at the cost of animals, see their chances to do a good stroke of business at all times. They are also the ones that plead for an international accessibility of trade markets. In that way more turnover can be generated and the law of the jungle is in force. In cases like this, the one with the least clear conscience earns the most money.

Involvement Letting go

Respect and involvement belong together, but hold grounds of tension. Both a lack or an overplus of involvement is bad for your conscience. By becoming too much involved, you can show a lack of respect for the other(s).
The reverse also applies. Neo-liberalism has led to a harsh, competitive mind that over-emphasizes self-handiness and own-responsibility. This has interfered with the welfare of many people to such extent that psychologically speaking one may not expect much involvement with others (animals) no more. As individuals we are responsible for detaching ourselves from the pressure of our surroundings in order to enter into and maintain relationships in a healthy manner.

There are good reasons to choose for the companionship of an animal, f.e. for pets that need a home. However people who seek emotional compensation with animals for what they seem unable to find with other humans, do better not to keep a pet. To animals, the human need for attachment is much less wanted. True love for animals therefore means setting the animal free.

People who say they get back more from animals than they do from people, probably require more from animals than they themselves are able to give to humans as well as animals. Such people are not in full balance and do an injustice to others.

The ambition and the ideal
Happiness
The reality
Well-being
He who chases happiness, will lack the repose to experience such happiness. Feeling happy has something to do with the right balance between effort and being at ease. But happiness also has to do with chance. A blisfull feeling is often something that overcomes you by chance. Many feelings of happiness arise in the natural scenery. Apparently nature provides for the place and circumstances that can evoke feelings of joy or spiritual feelings. Although we cannot look into the heads of animals, to them this will not be very different. When an animal can live in its proper habitat in free nature, it has the best chance of feeling happy now and again.

For most of the living creatures, the best chance on happiness comes with living a natural life. That means living in an optimal balance, aiming for freedom. Freedom is, means and purpose. Love is freedom. Freedom is "pure" to such extent that it only works when simultaneously applied for by its opposite (to set limits). To keep this in mind, brings the best chances of becoming and staying happy.

Our well-being is dependent on the correct amount of effort to fulfil our fundamental needs, but also to grow mentally and spiritually. If we force our efforts in this respect, it leads to stress. Our spiritual development is partly focused on acquiring freedom in order to expand ourselves. As for the remainder, we are focused on others and on "higher purposes".

For animals kept in industrial farming things are no different. Too little distraction caused by an unnatural life in the stables, leads to stress by frustration and underutilizaton (weariness). Subsequently, in turn this indigence of tribulation leads to a non-preparedness for the stress of transport to the abattoir. In fact the well-being of the animal is at stake in all the phases of its life. For our own welfare, we no longer require using the animal. Not as a pet and not as a means of nourishment. For our good and our mental or spiritual growth, we had better free ourselves from our deep-seated inclination to make use of animals. This emancipation is a good step when setting out for a life with a clear conscience.