ANIMAL EQUALITY: Why are some more equal than others?
They are very smart, sentient, soul-filled beings like us. They are peaceful, relaxed, generally happy. Pigs, dogs, horses, cows, goats, sheep alike. They are loving, affectionate, communicative, funny.
In fact, most of them seem to be more highly-evolved than we are. They don’t have to labour for money. They are not lashed to the wheels of industry or the never-ending demands of consumerism. They are happy to forage and roam, to spend time together, to scratch each other’s backs and snuggle up together for warmth and love at night.
They know us as individuals. They have a stronger sense of our souls and purpose than we do. They are gentle, kind, patient. They delight in simple pleasures – sunshine after rain, the warming of the world in springtime, their young, food and fresh water.
We have much to learn from them.
And yet we kill and eat them. And, like us, they don’t want to die. They know when they are destined for their final journey. They struggle and weep as we do. They buck and rail against their inevitable deaths as we do.
Many of us never give a thought to how animals have lived or died.
How many thousands of miles they have been trucked across the country standing cramped cheek by jowl in fear for their futures, not knowing what horrors awaiting them? Hoping for greener pastures, struggling as they smell the bloodbath at the abattoir and realising their fate.
When terrorists and extremists engage in the mass slaughter of innocents we are horrified and appalled. But isn’t that what we do to animals? Who gets to judge that they are less than we?
As humans the horrors we perpetuate against animals in the industrial agriculture model are truly awful – chickens in cramped cages for our daily eggs, meat chooks bred for breast and thigh meat who cannot barely walk so out of proportion are their bodies.
Pigs in huge barns on concrete floors unable to root through earth and run as they love to do, and sows in cramped stalls as breeding machines. Male bobby calves shot immediately after birth because there is no value in veal in Australia. Steers on unnatural grain diets for fattening in overcrowded feedlots, causing communicable E-coli in their guts and bodies.
PETA and animal activists are right to draw our attention to these monstrosities and force us to confront the realities of our thirst for flesh. Although they conveniently ignore the very many farmers raising animals compassionately, humanely, ethically and with love, on grass and pasture – free to forage and roam.
Humans have always eaten meat. Have always hunted and killed. Have always supplemented a plant-based diet with the essential protein from flesh. Some humans seem to survive and thrive on plant-based diets, some need meat.
There is no definitive right and wrong.
And, by God, Mother Nature can be cruel and vicious in how she takes lives both human and animal. Let’s face it, we are all going to die one day. Will we have lived a life of service? Will our bodies be useful to others after we are gone? At least the animals we eat can say that.
Regardless of whether we choose to eschew flesh or indulge, there is a fundamental truth. We all need to eat far more fruit and vegetables and a lot less meat.
Because that tray of meat is not just fuel for the barbie, it is a life taken before its time. It is our responsibility to ensure that it was a life well-lived – a life of joy and pleasant pastures, of sun and rain and soil, of freedom and peace.
Every life deserves the same respect. Animals perhaps more, because they serve and feed us. If you choose to eat meat, eggs, cheese and wear fleece and skin, please get to know a farmer, make sure the animals you eat and wear have been treated with respect, love and compassion, that they have lived good lives and died quick deaths.
It’s the least we can do.