Some people are by default animal lovers. Looking after their pets and treating them well is imperative for them. They find in their animals, a real confidant. The love for animals is perfectly legitimate. Yet, one issue dividing animal lovers, relates to how they are being treated . Nowadays, emphasis is being increasingly laid on animal rights and what measures should be taken to respect them. While some would readily condemn the consumption of animal-derivatives, others would argue that it was what kept us alive for so many years. In every ecosystem, successions are found whereby animals feed on other animals. Should those eating patterns change, biologists would start predicting the doom of the species involved within that food chain. Hence, it might follow the rules of Nature that animals are to be killed for food. Morals, however, need to be revised; our methods should be questioned. Are we really treating animals in the correct way? Veganism is a way of living which aims at excluding all forms of exploitation and cruelty to animals primarily for food, clothing and other motives.
Slaughterhouses have long been under the limelight, and that for the evil side of it, which certainly is animal cruelty. Let us take a moment to reflect, what would it be to spend your life, caged and without any freedom, just waiting and dreading imminent, industrialised death. For us, that would be a horror story, but for the animals in the slaughterhouses, it is a harsh reality. Through rare footages available, the sickening abuse of animals in slaughterhouses can be witnessed. Beefs, week-old calves, goats, sheep, horses, turkeys, chickens, pigs and many other animals are abused and exploited like mere objects. Pigs go through tail docking, ear clipping, castration, teeth cutting without anaesthesia. They are thrashed, electrocuted, beaten, stabbed in the throat, and boiled alive and dismembered. Cows giving us milk are often overexerted with machines and mechanical systems. Beefs are branded and dehorned without anaesthesia and while still alive and conscious, they are hoisted up, undergo throat slitting and bleed to death mercilessly. Chickens are stored in cramped, hot, disease-ridden cages or other confined spaces to produce eggs. They often lose their feathers or develop soreness in the process. Chicks also undergo debeaking to prevent cannibalism or feather pecking. The footages even reveal how workers kick, punch or knee these birds. There are even some who rip off the heads of the live birds ‘for fun’. Animals thrash and scream in desperation as they gasp for air inside the abattoir’s gas chambers while the workers stay there, laughing at their agony. They are killed by being beaten to death under a continuous flow of insults. Animals “thankfully enough” will not understand the vicious language but perpetrators should feel remorse and the weight of their actions. Inside the closed doors of slaughterhouses,many animals succumb to dehydration and even freeze to death, simply because of lack of proper veterinary care. Farm animals live a life of misery; for them to be subjected to terror and pain at the last minute is a shocking indictment of the callous human species.
For years now, people are trying to make themselves believe that there are ‘decent’ ways in which animals can be killed and used as part of the food chain. Under that prospect, the Kosher slaughter was favoured. However, undercover investigations have revealed that Agriprocessors, the world’s largest glatt kosher slaughterhouse, has been discarding both the Jewish commitment to compassion and federal law—and animals endure prolonged suffering and horrific deaths because of it. This is just one case among so many others and often, to have a tranquil conscience people tend to play a game- the blaming one. Whenever such cases are shed light on, people tend to accuse the workers of the slaughterhouses for their cruelty and inhumanity. However, what we fail to see is that they are only part of a huge system- that of demand and supply. Slaughterhouses would not exist, nor would such animal suffering if it wasn’t such a big market. ‘Plant based news’ interviewed an ex worker of a slaughterhouse who described it all as ‘’a vision from hell’’ but it was a system from which he just could not get out. We are basically paying someone to do something that we are unable to do ourselves; there is surely a psychological impact on those whose job is to kill animals daily. Under that light, it is perhaps time for us to stop thinking whom to blame and consider how to act. A question to make one reflect on this matter from Moby, a vegan American musician is, “Could you look an animal in the eyes and say to it, ‘My appetite is more important than your suffering’?”
According to The Vegan Society, the main reason why people go vegan is to prevent animal exploitation in any form but people are also adopting the vegan lifestyle to stay healthy, to protect the environment and for ethical reasons. A study conducted by Oxford Martin School concluded that by switching to diets that are based on vegetables rather than meat, greenhouse gas emission could be reduced by two thirds. Livestock is a big user of water and other natural resources, and its greenhouse gas emissions contribute to climate change. It takes 100 to 200 times more water to raise a pound of beef than it does to raise a pound of plant foods. The more livestock the world replaces with plants, the more water there will be to go around. A lot of the food that’s grown in the world isn’t being eaten by humans. In fact, 70% of the grain grown in the US feeds livestock, and, globally, 83% of farmland is set aside to raise animals. While meat is more calorically dense than plants, more aggregate calories (and more diverse nutrient profiles) could be produced if that land was dedicated to various plants. Plus, all the deforestation, overfishing and pollution caused by meat and fish industries limit the overall capacity of the Earth to produce food. If more farmland was used to grow crops for humans, then more people could be fed at less of an expense to the planet.
Researchers also found that adopting a vegan diet could reduce the number of annual deaths by 8.1 million per year by 2050. We can’t deny that we humans are characterised by egocentrism, where the benefits of something to us outweigh its possible raging repercussions on others; a simple reasoning that accounts for our “love” for meat products. A vegan diet is extremely beneficent to us: Firstly, it’s pretty implicit that a meal comprising mostly fruits, vegetables, nuts and other foods from plant sources, has only a tinge of saturated fats thereby curtailing the risks of developing cardiovascular diseases by maintaining a low level of cholesterol. For instance, there are less built-up of fats and lipids lining the arteries, inhibiting the occurrence of atheroma plaques that could lead heart attacks, strokes or even death. Moreover, it contains a myriad of nutrients and vitamins that rejuvenates the skin and the body, elongating our longevity. Many farm animals are injected with hormones so they can grow fatter faster or to produce more milk in the case of cows. This has led to obesity and an early onset of puberty among young children. Our children are being destroyed in the name of profit by big industry and factory farms who feed their animals steroids, growth hormones and antibiotics.
Each year, more than 100 million animals-including mice, rats, frogs, dogs, cats, rabbits, hamsters, guinea pigs, monkeys, fish, and birds-are killed in U.S. laboratories for biology lessons, medical training, curiosity-driven experimentation, and chemical, drug, food, and cosmetics testing. Although animal experiments have proved to be helpful for man, it is certainly unjust to our animals and Mauritius has its contribution in it. Mauritius is already one of the world’s largest suppliers of monkeys for research. Tens of thousands of monkeys are kept in large breeding farms across the island. The offspring of these wild-caught monkeys are then sent to laboratories around the world. A statement made by the Cabinet Office on 27th January 2017 says the Mauritius Government “has agreed to the Minister of Agro-Industry and Food Security promulgating the Animal Welfare (Experiment on Animals) Regulations under the Animal Welfare Act, to enable experiments to be carried out on animals.” As ethical tourism becomes more important to holidaymakers and the tourism industry, it can be a key concern for travellers when choosing a holiday destination.
Animals used for experiments are exposed to all sorts of chemicals and toxins. Their living conditions are deplorable which lead to diseases. Dogs suffer from haemophilia characterised by excessive bleeding, cats from deafness, mice from epilepsy and rabbits from glaucoma which affects their eyes. Animal testing has always been one of the cruellest experiences for animals. Being vegan will certainly not change the situation overnight, but slowly, veganism will teach man how to fight cruelty in laboratories. These animals suffer in silence and die in loneliness. It should be noted that animal testing are not always reliable. Recently, the FDA estimated that 96% of drugs that pass “pivotal” animal tests fail to proceed to the market. Though human and animals are somehow similar, we are still different species and we have different anatomy and chemical processes. Instead, scientist could use in vitro methods for their experiment; that is making sophisticated tests using animal cells, using human volunteers and also advanced computer-modelling techniques. These non-animal methods have proved to be less time consuming and of lower cost. As quoted by George Bernard Shaw, « Vivisection is a social evil because if it advances human knowledge, it does so at the expense of human character. »
Too many people think that veganism is equal to a lot of sacrifices. Yes it is but with the advancement in technology that we are experiencing in the contemporary world of today, producing and cultivating any kind of food is possible. Many countries, even those which are developing, are taking a step towards importing or locally producing vegan products such as soy milk and vegan make-up. Living a vegan lifestyle is not tough as long as each and every individual has the will to do it and will take the extra mile to have easier access to such kind of food. Genetic Engineering has opened a door for us as scientists can now create food plants that will act as a substitute for the protein in meat. Thus, being Vegan does not mean that we will not have a well-balanced healthy meal.
Even though veganism seems like an almost near utopia for the future, things are still far from being good enough. Mexico makes a lot of money from exporting avocadoes and it has led to illegal deforestation to make way for planting more avocado trees. In Argentina, they set fire to jungles, burn nests with flamethrowers. Many landowners scatter poisoned grains to defend the sown land from the birds that come to feed. For the wild herbivores, the landowners put up electric fences or hunt the animals down with guns. In other words, farmers engage in the persecution of wildlife and kill any animal considered harmful to production. Therefore, in trying to harm less, we are indirectly supporting another destructive sector owned by those controlled by greed. This comes down to the lack of land; simply imagine if the land used for livestock was instead used for the crops from the very beginning. A lot less harm would have been caused to animals.
Humankind can at times be hypocritical. The Holocaust would get anyone edgy. Humans would readily condemn it as immoral. Yet, how are those animals going through the same conditions any different? The animals which provide us with food, wool and leather are often mentally tortured, weakened to the bones until their skins sag, until their knees give in and fail them. No label or trademark will ever narrate to us the plight of these animals and ignorant us continues to support such acts, albeit not knowledgeable, by buying products of such dark origins. What we do not realize more often than not is that, all animals on our planet are sentient and if they could have spoken for themselves, they would not have ended up on our plates every day. As Peter Singer, a moral philosopher said, “We have to speak up on behalf of those who cannot speak for themselves.”
Thanking our lead author, Nidhee Seernaum and her fellow contributors :
Kushmita, Komal, Lavnish, Shanthini, Leah, Nishka, Ishika, Janvi.