So I know it’s been a while since my last post, so this week I have made it longer than usual. This past week has been a sad one with the heartbreaking news of Linkin Park’s Chester Bennington’s untimely death. I have always been a big LP fan; as a teen and into my 20’s until today. Chester supported animal rights and was a wonderful human being who made a difference to so many lives; it’s just so sad that he couldn’t save his own.
This got me thinking about compassion and how important it is to not only love oneself, but also to make compassion and kindness a way of life. The main reason I became vegetarian was to live a kinder, more sustainable lifestyle. So this post is about changing the way we think about our lifestyle choices in relation to animals. My wish is that we can all be more compassionate and kind to animals, ourselves and each other.
While not everyone is ready to make the transition to plant-based living by going vegetarian or vegan, there are easy ways to start living cruelty-free; I’d like to share a few steps you can take below; see how many you can commit to!
WARNING: Graphic content.
Fur: animals wear it better!
In this day and age I find it incomprehensible and shocking how fur is still seen as a luxury item by some. We can no longer plead ignorance; everyone knows that the fur industry is cruel and barbaric, so wearing it is like displaying a clear label that reads; “I don’t give a crap about the animal(s) that was/were killed to make this coat/jacket/hat/handbag”.
Fur isn’t simply a by-product of the meat industry. In China and other South-East Asian countries animals are not only bred for their fur and kept in cramped, filthy cages, but they are also skinned alive. Animals lead miserable lives on fur farms, and the farmers use cheap and cruel killing methods, including suffocation, electrocution, gas, and poison.
So why wear fur? It belongs to the animals, not us! There are so many faux-fur and cruelty-free fabric options available to us that look great! For more info. and to pledge to make a difference, visit PETA’s page on the fur industry:
Foie-Gras: force-fed cruelty
Foie-Gras (meaning ‘fatty liver’ in French), is a ‘luxury’ food produced by one of the cruelest methods. Ducks and geese are force-fed grain using metal pipes which are shoved down their throats several times a day; this is so that their livers become fatter (up to 10 x their normal size). They are kept in tiny, filthy cages and many don’t survive long. Once they have sufficiently fattened their livers, they are killed. Only the livers of male ducks are used, so the female ducklings are seen as ‘unnecessary’ and ground up alive for cat food or fertilisers. All this suffering and death for a few grams of ‘luxury’ liver pate to satisfy the palate of some humans.
What can you do? Say no to foie-gras and boycott places that serve it. For more, read below:
Down; the hard truth of a soft luxury
Down is seen as another luxury item, although unfortunately for ducks and geese it is now becoming more mainstream. There is nothing sexy about down. Most people probably imagine geese running around a farmyard and someone collecting the loose down that they shed. Unfortunately the reality is much less idyllic; like everything else, down is a huge industry and animal welfare is not a priority. Ducks and geese are kept in filthy cages and the down is plucked from them every few weeks; sometimes this causes bleeding, but the workers don’t care. They are only left alone once they are bald and then left to re-grow the down. Once no longer ‘useful’ they are killed; their short lives ended and for what? Human comfort; luxury bedding and clothing.
WARNING: The video below contains distressing scenes. This is the truth about down.
Reptile-skin; the scary truth
In the exotic skin industry, many crocodiles, snakes, alligators and lizards are killed for their skins. Because reptiles have a very slow metabolism, they often die slow and horrible deaths and can feel pain even after they have been decapitated. Crocodile and snake farms are commonplace in many South-East Asian countries, where animal rights laws are few or none. When I was in Cambodia a few years ago, we visited a small bazaar/cafe on the Ton-Le Sap lake. I was dismayed and saddened to see a small enclosure with crocodiles and a small basket with a python in; they were all destined to be killed for their skins. I have also seen crocodile farms advertised as tourist attractions and dried crocodile meat sold in Supermarkets in Thailand.
Growing up on a plantation in Sri Lanka, we rescued many snakes. I remember a python that had been beaten up by the villagers and was dying; we bathed it in warm water and soothing oil and tried our best to make it’s final hours as comfortable as we could. I was about 9 at the time, and this helped me overcome my fear of reptiles and see what powerful yet beautiful creatures they truly are.
So while some people may find these skins attractive as hand bags or shoes, I see the animals that died for them. The skins belong to them, not to us. So what can we do to help stop this trade?
Never visit reptile farms or pose with pythons; sadly a cool instagram picture for you is just another snapshot of a reptile that is soon destined to be killed, and just shows support for unethical tourism.
Don’t buy reptile skin products; the best way to stop the cruelty is to stop supporting these industries.
As with fur, there are so many great alternatives out there; cruelty-free and often cheaper! Check them out!
Animals aren’t here to entertain us!
There are so many ways in which humans exploit animals for entertainment:
Fox hunting: a cruel, out-dated and unfair ‘sport’ where a terrified fox is chased down by hounds and people on horses and then barbarically torn apart.
Circuses: forcing animals to perform unnatural and painful tricks/acts. They are punished if they don’t comply.
Bull-fighting: in the name of ‘tradition’ – a very cruel ‘sport’ that is rigged so that the bull doesn’t stand a chance of winning; and even if it does, it will be killed at the end anyway. The seal slaughter: clubbing seals to death for their pelts – a gruesome and barbaric act. Aquariums: where orcas and other sea creatures are kept in small tanks for the purpose of entertainment. I can understand the educational aspect of sea-life centres, but having dolphins, sharks and whales captive in enclosures that will never even come close to mimicking the scale of what their natural habitats are, is cruel.
Elephant rides: you may think you are helping to fund their upkeep but in reality most places that offer elephant rides in Asia are cruel to the elephants. The exceptions are designated animal sanctuaries.
It doesn’t matter where you go in the world; you will never be far from humans exploiting animals. So please, make a stand. How?
Don’t support these cruel sports or activities. Say no to down and foie-gras. Don’t wear animal skins. Sign petitions. Donate.
Taking these few small steps is one of the easiest things you can do. You may think you are only one, but you can make a difference. Be compassionate. Be human kind.
If you want to find out more, I urge you to watch the documentary Earthlings.
WARNING: Extremely graphic and distressing scenes. Hard-hitting.