I just wrote a post on my other blog, "Why a photo of a dead deer makes me feel hunting is wrong." The post includes thoughts about the nature of consciousness, the value of wildness, and such. Give it a read.
Here's an excerpt.
It bothers me when people de-animalize themselves.
Humans are animals. After billions of years of evolution, we are related to every other living entity, including bacteria, insects, fish, and other animals. There isn't any sort of gulf or divide between us and them. Life on earth is a continuum.
I've read a lot of books about neuroscience and the philosophy of consciousness. This can be complicated stuff. A key simple idea, though, is that what it means to be conscious is this: there is something like to be a conscious creature, something it is like for that organism.
This seems undeniable.
I know there is something it is like to be me. You know this also, for you. Every dog or cat lover understands their pets also have conscious lives. Farm animals too. And wild animals. Including deer.
Before being killed by my relative, the buck was going about its life as a conscious being. Just like we do.
Sure, we don't know what it is like to be a deer. Or a bat. Or any other human, for that matter. It is entirely possible, though, to feel empathy and compassion for other conscious organisms even if we can't know what their consciousness is like.
I've been a vegetarian for forty-six years. As I describe in the post, I killed one animal for "fun" when I was a child, then never did this again.
My attitude toward many philosophical, moral, and spiritual issues has changed over time. How I feel about killing animals hasn't.