killing, Amazonia, food taboos, vegetarianism, animal personhood, morality


Originally written for a conference on meat attended by farmers, anthropologists, people involved in cultural affairs, and other members of the public, and seeking to avoid emphasis on cultural difference, this paper explores common ground between Euro-American and Amerindian ambivalence about meat consumption. Meat-eating raises two shared concerns: an intuitive recognition of the resemblances between humans and animals and an uncomfortable awareness that human life often depends on the death and destruction of other living beings. I suggest that, behind some obvious cultural differences, Amazonian shamanic and ritual procedures aimed at the de-subjectification of meat share points in common with various Euro-American procedures that seek to disguise or render invisible the harsher realities of meat eating.