i read this review in the new yorker over lunch and found it fascinating. the thing that particularly caught my attention was this passage:
The eighteenth century saw the emergence of an argument for vegetarianism from the perspective of animal rights. George Cheyne and other commentators argued that the habit of killing, like that of meat eating itself, hardened the heart and the nerves, both figuratively and literally. The squeamish human response to animal suffering was the authentic one; the callous reaction induced by familiarity was accounted artificial or false. "To see the Convulsions, Agonies and Tortures of a Poor Fellow-Creature . . . dying to gratify Luxury . . . must require a rocky Heart, and a great Degree of Cruelty and Ferocity," Cheyne wrote. In the early eighteenth century, Bernard Mandeville, in "The Fable of the Bees," judged, "There is of all the Multitude not one Man in ten but what will own, (if he was not brought up in a Slaughter-house) that of all Trades he could never have been a Butcher; and I question whether ever any body so much as killed a Chicken without Reluctancy the first time." (emphasis mine.)
something to think about.