With many of the animal-based goods we use, there’s a disconnect between a product and its origin. A package of ground beef at the supermarket bears no resemblance to a cow. A can of tuna tastes so dissimilar to the fresh fish that it’s often a wonder how they’re one and the same. The immaculate white leather on a pair of new sneakers conjures no image of cattle in our minds.
And how many of us stop to think of gelatin coming from animals when we eat Jell-O? As Carol Jacobs, author of The Sexual Politics of Meat, once wrote, “There’s a linguistic dance done around butchered flesh. We don’t say a lamb’s leg, we say leg of lamb. We take away the possessive relationship between a lamb and his or her leg. Animals are not mass terms. Water is a mass term. You can add or take away water, but you can’t change what water is. We falsely perpetuate the idea that meat is a mass term, that it never adds up to a living animal.
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