A couple decades ago, give or take a year or two, I treated myself to a stopover in Honolulu for a few days. I tried to avoid major tourist attractions, so went to lunch one day at a modest restaurant. I decided to try the Mahi on the menu, and asked the waitress what it was. She looked at me a little strangely and said,"Some people like to eat it. It tastes good."
Later I heard (erroneously) that I'd eaten dolphin. I grieved. Dolphins,whales, and primates (including us) have the extra layer of brain at the front called a neocortex, which, when I studied it so long ago, appeared to be the region in which we have awareness of self.
Then mahi mahi came to the local Walmart. We discussed buying some, but as I explained my misgivings about eating beings with self-awareness, Mr. P tried to tell me that this mahi mahi was not like Flipper, the dolphin.
I didn't get it until today. The food I ate in Honolulu, mahi mahi, is a dolphin FISH, that is in no way related to the mammals called porpoises, also called dolphins.
I ate a fish, not Flipper.
I suppose, if I were hungry enough, I might eat dolphin, whale or primate, with appropriate thanksgiving.
All of us with dogs and cats around us know that they understand a large vocabulary of human words and can have their feelings hurt. So, especially since I don't keep up with brain research, I'm not yet ready to say that the housepets don't have awareness of self.
Mr. P says he's known some personable cows, too.
Above is a dolphin fish, not a mammal. Oh, well, the guy with the arm is a mammal.