Posts tagged ‘Gaza Strip’

April 17, 2008

– Of why we destroy X to produce Y –

My sister, who loves animals but eats them on a daily basis, has been wanting to volunteer at a wildlife sanctuary. Without giving it much thought I have agreed to take part on this pilgrimage, mainly because it didn’t occur to me that she would actually follow through with this idea and be prepared to travel 30 hours by plane only to get up at 6am to feed animals. But when my beloved sister started sending me links to different websites, explaining about the everyday duties we will have at the sanctuaries, I realized that this adventure was close at hand and had to really invest some thought into it. While volunteering I would be feeding orphaned predators with cow flesh. Cows that have been raised on what were once lush jungles. It’s a known fact that the amazons are being ‘cleared off’ (another term that is used in our modern day euphemistic language: ” cleared off” instead of “cut off” or simply “destroyed“) to make space so cows can be raised for their meat, or that soy can be grown to feed ‘cattle’.

So let us consider the twisted facts for a moment: First we “clear off” land in order to raise animals for food, and by that, destroying the lives of it’s inhabitants. Then we build sanctuaries so we may protect those who were there first. Then we feed them with the same animals, which we produce, raise and kill in the place where these wild animals used to live and care for themselves. So basically:

We kill X to produce Y so we can kill Y and feed it to X.

It has already been written that many endangered species organizations have caused considerable damage to farm animals. Teaching people to care for wildlife has caused an immense gap between jungle cats and house cats, between wild boars and genetically engineered pigs. Over the last decades, we were taught that some animals, which were hunted for their exotic furs, tusks or skins are to be protected. The WWF, for instance, has educated us that some animal populations are diminishing and should be protected from the modern world, where hunting is done not with a bow or a sphere but with guns. There are many sanctuaries specializing in caring for wild animals and only some (depending on the country, of course) to protect those whom we do not only murder by the billions each year but manufacture them to become our products.

So why do we feel compassion for one and appetite for another?

One theory I managed to conjure up is simply historical: Over the years, since people have gathered berries and roots they also hunted animals. Since then they also “learned” to raise and produce animals so they will supply them of all their needs: milk, eggs, leather, fur, wool and meat. Some wild animals were in real danger of getting extinct (while others went ahead and became extinct), and people realized, eventually, that they simply must protect what is left of these species. And so, wildlife organizations sprouted, and people donated money to them and in return received personalized name and address stickers. Unfortunately, while killing white rhinos (couldn’t say that anymore for the South African elephants!) is not only illegal but considered “bad” by most, killing cows is a worldly routine.

Abandoning the Bolivian sanctuary craze I have decided to contribute my time at a place which is idealistically pure: a vegan farm sanctuary. A place where animals are given a chance to live out their lives in peace. Animals who were found dying on the way to the slaughterhouse, on the side of the road, or simply not “fit for sale” at auctions. The people at the sanctuary do not eat or use these animals in any way. Heaven. I will be volunteering at the British ‘Friend’ during the month of June.

Animal Rights organizations are relentlessly trying to show just how “cute” or “clever” farm animals are, how much they resemble “house pets”. Maybe the reason for this effort is to produce compassion. Meanwhile, wildlife organizations prefer to show us how beautiful wild animals are, how exotic and basically: sexy. With wildlife it’s not really about compassion. It’s more about respect.

Maybe, what farm animals need is respect. Respect for being live creatures who share this amazing planet with us and would rather not be born and raised only to become one’s lunch. Without the need to be “sweet” or “lovable”, but simply because they are creatures who feel pain, fear and love.

Being vegan is not about what one has to “give up”, nor is it about our own pleasures or the compassion we possess. It is about the most basic idea that no one is ours to use in any way.

My sister decided not to join me at the sanctuary, for in her own words: caring for horses and pigs is not so attractive as caring for tigers and monkeys. Many people think in this way. My cousin who journeyed with me a couple of years ago to the Gaza Strip, in order to save dogs and cats who were left by the settlers, enjoys burgers at McDonalds at any given chance. Mostly she likes the ‘Happy Meal’, which is far from being happy. Yes, it is great that she came to help, but it is complete hypocrisy to adore kittens and murder lambs. To send a check out to save lions and go out for a steak dinner. These two things simply contradict one another. If you want to save wildlife, stop taking their space: stop consuming animals who are raised on their land. It’s really that simple.

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