Perhaps trying to break the mental link between animals and meat has a lot to do with anthropomorphism?
All animals are composed of meat, including the human animal. I don't think anyone doesn't realize that.
I don't anthropomorphize (sp) the animal, I do think a rabbit has a rabbit way of enjoying life, and a deer, cow, cat, 3 toed sloth has their ways of enjoying their lives.
I asked this before in a way, and would be interested in someone's view on this:
As a human enjoying your human way of existance, what do you feel gives you the authority/right/privilege of terminating the life of an animal who is enjoying his way of existance?
Is it the fact (which I'm not too sure of in some species), that animals are not aware of their own mortality? I think some animals are aware of this, for example elephants.