A six year old boy has a pet guinea pig which he loves. One day, in the act of cuddling it, he drops it and it falls to the floor. It is instantly and utterly dead.
Fantastic says Mum. A source of fresh meat. It would honour little Snuffles to eat him rather than bury him.
You are mortified at this (so is Snufffles but that is a poor joke). You don't eat pets where you come from. Why not?
Recently I have been pondering this in the light of programmes such as Escape to River Cottage, Jamie's Italian Adventure and Gordon Ramsay's F word, in which excellent chefs rear their own meat and treat it lovingly, then see it slaughtered (or in Jamie's case don't rear it but do kill it themselves - respect) and prepare it. If we do not feel there is anything intrinsically wrong with eating meat, what is wrong with eating the freshly road-killed cat? You can eat round the tyre marks.
This is a poser in Julian Baggini's wonderful book of thought experiments I am still working through called, 'The Pig That Wants to be Eaten.'
The power of taboo is very great. Some cultures don't eat pigs, some cows, some meat, some rotten milk - we all have our taboos. But are they more than cultural? Would labrador stew have been a greater mark of respect for the eccentric retriever Alex (RIP) than the pet crem.
Thinking about it.