The latest PETA campaign featuring a fake freshly shorn sheep covered in blood is wrong. And that’s coming from a former vegan.
I was a vegan for more than 20 years. I used to think that all human interference with animal life was cruel and contrary to our purpose here on earth. I was convinced I was right about that and my dietary choices demonstrated my higher spiritual evolution. Much of this time I battled with drug, alcohol and nicotine addictions and anorexia and then bulimia, so it wasn’t that my body was a temple, but that every thing on God’s earth deserved the right to live in peace.
My dietary choices were a pain in the proverbial for my family, friends, and stressed waitresses in restaurants in the days before you could chop and change everything on the menu to suit your selfish needs. I didn’t subscribe to any group or read any literature and this was long before Google or information on tap. I made up my own mind based on my beliefs.
And then a naturopath told me my body was starving and I had to eat eggs or sardines. Well there was no way I could eat little fish in cans so I bought chooks, loved them and was grateful for their gorgeous golden eggs every day. A few years later I bought my riverside paradise, met a man (who I converted to vegan), settled down, got married, had a baby. And I wondered, will I know if he needs meat, and if he does, will I cook it for him? I wrestled with that a lot. And then one day, like a bolt from the blue, I looked at my toddler and knew he needed meat. So my journey to source ethically raised and grown meat began. In the end I realised we would have to do it ourselves.
Australian musician Jona Weinhofen in PETA’s controversial anti-wool campaign.
Australian musician Jona Weinhofen in PETA’s controversial anti-wool campaign. Photo: PETA
Nature is cruel. I have rescued and wept over sheep ripped apart by wild dogs. Chooks taken by foxes and wild boars. Ducks stolen by wild dogs, and hunted by sea eagles. Chicks swallowed whole by pythons. Cattle, alpaca, sheep and piglets felled by paralysis ticks. Alpaca attacked by wild dogs, birth deformities and so on.
And yes, some farming practices are cruel – ripping calves straight off their mothers to assuage our endless hunger for dairy products. We have rescued many male “bobby” calves to save them being shot but they often just lie down and die. No will to live. They want their mothers and who can blame them?
None of us are perfect. And there are certainly farming methods that can be improved. But ultimately we, as consumers, can demand that change by choosing sustainable produced fruit, vegetables and meat with a transparent supply chain from paddock to plate. Or not. We can continue to expect the duopoly to make ethical choices us for us, believe the sales hype on the packaging, or we can connect with farmers and make sure that what they say is true.
The latest PETA campaign with Aussie born and raised musician Jona Weinhofen carrying a fake freshly shorn sheep covered in blood is offensive to the public and farmers alike. More shock and awe from the vociferous vegans with farmers left reeling in their tracks.
Sheep need to be shorn every year just like we need our hair cut. Without shearing sheep can die of heat, and would struggle to carry the weight of an unshorn fleece. Shearing is essential regardless of whether the wool is used for insulation, carpets, woollen clothes etc. In fact most Aussie wool goes to the UK where everyday people wear wool everyday.
Australians don’t wear wool, they wear mass produced cotton and synthetics from China. It’s all very convenient to express shock at the poor sheep, but not to question the terrifying pollution in China (think of the birds), the chemical run-off into rivers and streams from bleaching, dyeing processes and so on (think of the fish, the frogs, the water birds, the eels, turtles etc). The chemicals needed to turn petrochemicals into clothes, let alone the pesticides used in the growing of cotton. Give me a nice woollen jumper any day!
Australia grew on the sheep’s back and now we scorn those animals and the shearers who were our lifeblood. Yes, there are some pricks in the industry. Show me an industry that doesn’t have a few cruel, heartless people.
Sometimes sheep do get a few nicks while shearing. So do some men while shaving their faces. It’s nothing to bleat over. And certainly not the bloodbath PETA would have us believe.
If PETA and the rabid vegans of the world want to change the eating and wearing habits of the masses they need to stick to the truth, examine their own hypocrisies, and have an open and honest debate and discussion about animal welfare and where food comes from.
They need to acknowledge there is no perfect way to be human on this planet without harming animals. Everything we eat, everything we buy, everything we use has involved some process which harms the environment and therefore harms animals – all the chemicals and plastics and dioxins and pesticides and fossil fuels that are used every day in order to give us the plastic packaging, smartphones, computers, synthetic fleece and plastic shoes mass produced in sweatshops by small children.
Vegans profess kindness to animals, but my God they can be cruel to their fellow humans if they don’t agree with their lifestyle choices. Humans are animals too!
And there is a conscious way to eat meat, which I have reluctantly realised is good for the human body. I’m older now, hopefully wiser, and more aware and honest about what my body needs to be healthy – that includes some meat. We can all eat meat more consciously – buy direct from the farmer, share a beast with friends – fill the freezer and then eat sparingly and with due reverence for the life that has been given. Wear wool with pride and joy – not only is it better for our bodies to wear natural fibres that can breathe easily, but the planet can breathe better without all those chemical concoctions used for man made fibre.
For the record, bees are happy to have honey harvested when the hives are overflowing. We always leave plenty for them to survive and thrive. Nothing could be more natural than wearing and weaving wool, hemp and flax, eating eggs and honey to supplement the fruit and veg we grow, and occasionally killing a beast and feasting, storing all the rest in the freezer. One steer will feed our family beef for two years. This is how humans have always eaten – with respect and love for nature, with honour for all life, with gratitude for nature’s abundance, using the whole beast, skin and all for leather.
I used to be a vegan. But I’m all right now.