I made the mistake of finally watching The Cove today.
I say “mistake” because it’s the kind of movie that leaves you feeling helpless, and full of despair. When you watch a movie like Food, Inc. at least you can change the way you eat and feel like you’re doing a small part. But if you don’t eat dolphin meat or visit dolphinariums, what is the average person supposed to do after watching a film like The Cove? Donate money, I guess. But before I do that, I’ve got to write about it.
It’s easy to romanticize dolphins (or whales, for that matter). They save lives, learn complicated sign-language, and are majestically beautiful. Dolphins, though, are part of a food chain like the rest of us. Most of the time, they’re at the top of that chain. But animals eat other animals and that’s the way it is. Orcas have been known to attack and eat baby blue whales during migration, and it’s hard to watch but it’s part of survival. Dolphins have even been known to kill other dolphins–though not for food.
Of course, none of that means I condone what’s going on in Taiji, Japan. My point is that death is a part of life, and if this was a film about an Inuit tribe killing a whale that sustains it through the winter, well, I wouldn’t be writing this post. But The Cove is about more than just the dolphin slaughter: It’s also about the dire straits our seas are in, the irresponsible management of them, and our misguided food system. You don’t round up thousands of dolphins to slaughter for survival. It’s about greed.
Unfortunately, our food system is about greed. From the guys making a living by catching/producing as much as they possibly can, to the big companies running family-farmers off their land. I’m no vegetarian, but I keep my meat–and even my fish–consumption to a minimum. If people can survive without meat, they can certainly survive on less of it. And if they’re eating less of it, they can afford to support responsible meat producers and fishermen–all while decreasing the strain on our resources and improving our health.
Anyway, next time it’s raining out and you feel fully prepared to be slightly depressed for the rest of the day, watch The Cove (it’s available instantly on Netflix). If cows and chickens deserve the chance to live decent lives while they’re here, and our pets get organic food and expensive healthcare, than dolphins — with their complicated social structures, communication systems, and capacity for self-awareness — deserve better from us.