Anger at the small, apathy at the vast
Last night, police shot a dog as it ran uncontrolled across the tarmac of Auckland Airport in New Zealand. The police claimed that it was necessary to shoot the dog, though many are rightly outraged and question why tranquilisers couldn’t be used, or why a more humane solution could not be found. Most people say that we shouldn’t kill or harm for no reason, or for enjoyment, and I agree.
However, it is ironic that most people who are outraged by this tragic event probably went on to eat animal products later that day. 70 billion land animals are killed for their flesh or excretions each year. It’s a mass killing of unimaginable scale, and it’s not necessary. There is no evidence that animal products are necessary in a healthy diet, and there is even some evidence that it is more healthful to avoid it. Animal agriculture is also one of the largest causes of climate change, accounting for some 15% of global greenhouse gas emissions. And finally, it is the cause of vast suffering.
People love dogs, and in a western country like New Zealand or Australia, we think it’s wrong to shoot or eat one. But pigs are cleverer than dogs, and are as intelligent as a 3 year old human child. It makes no sense to love dogs but pay for an industry to harm pigs just to eat their flesh. How can we be against harming animals for fun, yet continue to pay for animals to be harmed so we can eat them for fun?
Part of the problem is that people just don’t realise how bad life is for an animal in a factory farm. Chickens are crammed in to either cages or sheds with little room to move. So-called ‘free range’ or ‘cage free’ operations are little better, and one only needs to watch the prize-winning documentary Lucent to see what Australian pigs endure.
If you think killing animals for pleasure is wrong, there is an easy way to do something about it. You could simply choose to not pay people to harm and kill animals for you. Consider adopting a cruelty-free, vegan lifestyle or buying more vegan foods, which in our modern age are plentiful, delicious and healthy. Have this conversation with your friends and family, and have an open discussion about the way we treat our fellow earthlings.
This was submitted as an op-ed to a number of Australian print and online publications with no response, including The Australian, the Sydney Morning Herald, The Advertiser and ABC News.