Rabbit Advocacy Animal Matters
Good deeds stained with animal blood
Countless worthy causes are based on the grilling and eating of animals
"So while you're home today eating your sweet, sweet holiday turkey, I hope you'll all choke ... just a little bit." -Kent Brockman, Channel 6 News. That charming little quote is from The Simpson's, and while I consider it to be one of the funniest shows on television, I honestly have no desire to see anyone suffer ... not even a little bit.
I would, however, like people to think about the choices they make and why they do the things they do, especially when it comes to the way we treat others in the pursuit of own individual interests.
Christmas easily comes to mind. It's a time of sharing, family gatherings and being thankful for what we have. We spend the days and weeks leading up to Christmas looking for just the right gifts for family and friends, feeling all good inside about how nice and thoughtful we are. Perhaps we even do some volunteer work to ease the suffering of those less fortunate.
Then on Christmas Day, after all the presents are exchanged and the smell of homecooking fills the house, we take our places at the dinner table, say a little prayer, and feast on the slaughtered remains of some defenceless turkey, goose or pig.
In the name of peace, love and goodwill towards others we cause or sanction the unnecessary suffering and violent deaths of other animals, and think nothing of it. Either we don't consider the consequences of our actions or we simply don't care. Maybe it's just that the taste of another animal's flesh is more important to us than the life of that animal.
Consider all the organizations that collect and distribute turkeys around Christmas (and Thanksgiving) to give to those in need. Sure it's great to give food to those who can't afford it, but what's wrong with giving rice, pasta, potatoes or canned vegetables instead? Why does a good deed have to be stained with the blood of an innocent animal?
But that's the way we are, and not just around the holidays. All year long, and for countless worthy causes, we'll cook up, barbecue or grill other animals to help our own kind -- your friendly community rib-fest, wing-fling, fish-fry or beef-on-a-bun.
This type of prejudice is called speciesism, meaning when one species (ours) puts its own interests above the interests of all other species so it can do whatever it wants to those other species.
We defend our discrimination in many ways, like saying animals aren't capable of complex thinking, using language or contemplating death the way we are, as if these reasons justify cruelty and exploitation.
Did you know that turkeys are clever, cunning and extremely friendly creatures? Did you know they blush? They also become extremely stressed just before slaughter, which apparently makes their "meat" tougher because of all the adrenaline that's released into their bodies.
And did you know that a few years ago a pig, someone's pet, saved the life of a woman who was having a heart attack? It's true. LuLu, sensing her owner was in trouble, risked her own life by leaving the house, running into the street and lying down in front of traffic until someone finally stopped, followed LuLu into the house and called 911.
Some eight million pigs and another three million turkeys are slaughtered for food each and every day around the world. Maybe if they were more like Lu- Lu, we'd think twice about eating them. And maybe if we got to know a few cows, chickens and turkeys the way we know cats or dogs, we'd treat them better, too.
It's as if we suffer from some sort of moral multiple personality disorder -- nice to some animals, even creating laws to protect them from abuse, and cruel and indifferent to the rest. We need to start practising what we preach. If it's wrong to make one kind of animal suffer, it's wrong to make any animal suffer.
So in the spirit of Christmas and with a new year just around the corner, may I offer a suggestion: If you feel bad for the animals that are killed to be your food, or a little guilty for causing so much pain and suffering, then do something about it.
Make it your New Year's resolution to stop eating animals. It's not only good for your health; it's good for theirs too. If you truly want peace in the world, take the first step: go vegetarian. Or as Bart might say, don't have a cow, man!
Dan Wilson is a vegan, environmentalist, animal rights activist and public education director for the Niagara Centre for Animal Rights Awareness. He is a member of The Standard's community editorial board.
Comment: Many organizations, like the BC SPCA, serve dead animals at their fundraisers. How paradoxical – an animal welfare agency serving the flesh of one to save the life of another. The public is confused, and have expressed their disapproval by choosing to donate elsewhere. In 2011, the Trail branch of the SPCA came under fire after it was learned the fundraising menu featured lamb, steak, veal, pork, chicken, and fish!