Is there any real moral difference between killing & eating a pig & a dolphin?

Dolphins (the mammal not the fish) and pigs are both relatively intelligent animals. We eat pigs with gusto, and yet tend to be deferential to the dolphin in or moral calculus about what is, and is not, appropriate to eat.

If relative intelligence is the discriminator metric as to what it is morally acceptable to kill and eat, and both are available for killing and eating, why should the dolphin get a pass and the pig get barbecue sauce?

I think it is illogical.

The reasons people behave this way:
a) People are irrational
b) Social inertia: people are “used to” eating pigs

(and I eat pork, so I’m one of the irrational ones)

I’m not sure why Americans don’t eat dolphin, but I’m skeptical that it’s because of a moral decision. I think it’s more likely that it’s because they’re more or less made of blubber which most Americans (Alaskan indian tribes excepted) don’t find to be particularily palatable.

Drop a person into the middle of a crowded pod of dolphins, and (according to popular belief) he will be swum safely to shore. Drop a person into the middle of a crowded pig pen and he will be trampled and eaten before he gets to the gate.

Dolphins: cute. Pigs: sometimes cute, sometimes fat, disgusting, and scary.

Dolphins communicate with chirps and whisltles. Pigs communicate with grunts and snorts.

Dolphins are a symbol of mystical wisdom and intelligence. Pigs are a symbol of, well…pork. And glutony.

Flipper. Arnold.

Pigs are tasty and delicious. Dolphins taste like baby. Just kidding

It’s simply not true to say that dolphins are ‘made of blubber’. A dolphin has a body fat percentage of around 20%. That is directly comparable to the body fat percentage of swine, which is around 18%. Dolphins are on the high end of the fat scale for wild animals, but they aren’t exceptional when compared to domesticated species.

As for the problem with eating dolphins and whales, I can’t see any major objections. The only sensible objection I have heard is that these are wild animals and the harvest method can never be as controlled or humane as the methods for harvesting domestic animals. That’s certainly true. However it needn’t be any less humane than the techniques used to harvest other wild species, including wild pork.

The real objection seems to be a cultural decision. People have an idealised picture of dolphins and whales and they don’t like seing them eaten. Of course cultures like Japan have no objections at all to eating doplhins, seeing them as just another sustainable natural resource that can be utilised. A far more sensible attitude IMO.

But this is about more that just about dolphins.

We recently got a cat, and while holding it in my arms and petting it I thought “how come we chose this animal to take care of, to feed, and to care about its welfare, while we take another animal and kill and eat it?”

It all seems so arbitrary.

Of course it’s arbitrary. That’s the whole point. Never mind cats, in your suburb there are probably some people holding their pet rabbit or pet pig, while simultaneously others are chowing down on rabbit and pig meat. People choose pets for numerous reasons, and they choose food for numerous reasons. Neither one precludes the other.

Doesn’t matter to me, now pass that BBQ and tartar sauce.

Aren’t dolphins endangered?

I’m sure they have their own food taboos, too.

Our culture does not consider whales and dolphins to be food. We come up with various reasons why this is so (thinking it wouldn’t taste good, or that it’s bad to kill them because they’re intelligent).

We do it with plants, too- we pretty much arbitrarily designate some of them as “weeds” and try to get rid of them, but we put a lot of effort into getting other plants to grow.

Sustainable? The Whale, Dolphin, and most fish populations are dropping or have dropped at an alarming rate.

Cetaceans and Apes are the most intelligent creatures on this planet except for the Human. This is a little different from a Pig, a reasonably smart animal but from what I can see less so then Otters and Monkeys.
It is a moral issue. If you are okay with eating dolphins, you might as well be okay with eating humans. Maybe you haven’t noticed that they are actually sapient creatures.
I am not a Vegan or PETA member, but I really do draw the line at the slaughter of endangered sapient creatures. Particularly the friendly ones.


Certain dolphin species are, but common ones like the bottlenose dolphin aren’t.

But if your favorite plant gets destroyed or eaten by someone, you don’t feel bad for the plant. You feel bad for yourself for losing that plant, but you can’t say the plant suffered.

However, if someone comes and kills and eats your pet, not only do you feel bad for yourself for losing your pet, you also feel bad for the pet itself (for having lost its life, for having suffered, etc)

So, there is a critical distinction here.

I just thought I’d mess with your heads by linking to PETA’s press release about their (now defunct) Eat the Whales campaign.


As long as it isn’t an endangered species, I think there is no difference what animals are eaten. I fail to see why the Humane Society is getting worked up about

Ouch - hit the wrong key.

I fail to see why the Humane Society gets worked up about eating horses, and many people about eating cats, dogs, rabbits etc. To me, either you eat animals (and I do), or you don’t.

It took me 10 minutes to pick up the pieces of my head from it exploding. :wink:
This is yet one more reason why I hate PETA. But I understand that it is getting hard to find defenders for PETA.


I wouldn’t eat a dolphin, for all of the reasons outlined above, including societal and cultural mores, the notion they are intelligent, and plus they are darned cute.

It’s just the way it works, see? I have no problem with admitting the reason I find eating cats/dogs disgusting is because of the culture I grew up in, and my SO’s dad, who ate dog in Hong Kong, doesn’t find it so disgusting because of the culture he grew up in.

I guess I don’t see that as hypocritical but living to the standards of your society. Technically, being Indian by birth, I should find eating cows disgusting. Again I don’t because I was raised here.

This is not a question of morality by any stretch of the imagination.

It’s simple, really. Pigs are literally born to be eaten. Today’s swine is a genetically modified organism which started out as a wild boar. Centuries of selective breeding for docility, health, size and meat production have resulted in a distinctly different animal designed to be “the other white meat”.

You cannot say the same for dolphins, which are undomesticated animals. It’s also much cheaper and easier to raise a pig (which will turn just about anything you feed it into pork) on land than to catch dolphins in the wild.

No argument here at all.

That’s absolute nonsens, by the way.