Why do people who love animals eat animals?
I have been vegan for over six years and as a former meat eater raised in a meat eating family, I will answer this question from my own personal experience.
When I was young, I considered myself someone who loved animals. I loved my dog. I bathed him, fed him, and cuddled with him. I cried when he died. While I knew he was an animal, I must have held him in higher esteem than other animals, like the ones I was being given to eat for food.
My mother made us dishes like scrambled eggs, tunafish sandwiches, meatballs, chicken soup, fish, cheeseburgers, lobster on special occasions, and turkey on Thanksgiving. We baked using eggs and milk and got ice cream for dessert. All the while, I loved my dog and never once made any kind of love connection to the animals I was eating for food. Not only that, but I knew the animals were once alive (stating the obvious, I know) and that they had to die to become food. But that still didn't stop me from eating them.
In my world, pigs, chickens, cows, turkeys, fish, and shellfish were animals to be eaten. To love them was theoretical. I loved them in all of their characteristic cuteness but it didn't stop me from eating them. I had created a hierarchy that was based on nothing other than the fact that, in my world, it was normal and necessary to eat them.
But once I dismantled the hierarchy in my mind, my world changed. Now my love for animals extends to all.