I went vegetarian in early ’94 (vegan in ’02) for its potential health benefits. The animal rights/ethics implication mattered little, as I was mostly unaware. Health reasons still dominate, but the disturbing callousness with which we disregard animals as sentient beings is enough to keep me vegan on the unlikely chance I falter in my dedication. Consider Exhibit A, the E-Z Catch Chicken Harvester:
I don’t expect any mass abandonment of meat as a food item in my lifetime, but who can watch that and consider it the mark of a civilized society?
Following that line of thought, how does this story read in the animal rights context?:
[Dr. Jennifer] Eddy is one of many doctors to recently rediscover honey as medicine. Abandoned with the advent of antibiotics in the 1940s and subsequently disregarded as folk quackery, a growing set of clinical literature and dozens of glowing anecdotes now recommend it.
Most tantalizingly, honey seems capable of combating the growing scourge of drug-resistant wound infections, especially methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA, the infamous flesh-eating strain. These have become alarmingly more common in recent years, with MRSA alone responsible for half of all skin infections treated in U.S. emergency rooms. So-called superbugs cause thousands of deaths and disfigurements every year, and public health officials are alarmed.
Though the practice is uncommon in the United States, honey is successfully used elsewhere on wounds and burns that are unresponsive to other treatments. Some of the most promising results come from Germany’s Bonn University Children’s Hospital, where doctors have used honey to treat wounds in 50 children whose normal healing processes were weakened by chemotherapy.
I’m sure there are vegans who could argue against such a use as animal exploitation; I am not one of them. I don’t think I’m prone to relying on any sort of relativism to justify some things while denouncing others (example), but this is fine with me, if it works. Although there is a price, preventing disability and death is a clear benefit.
For more on honey from a vegan perspective, read this, including its fuzzy (and stringent) indications of how honey might be ethically harvested. For more on MRSA, read this again.
Video link found at Boing Boing