My heart is heavy today after re-watching Vegan: Everyday Stories…Encourage all to watch this real-life documentary shedding light on animal factory farming, and true stories of some people’s choices once they were awakened to the brutality of the industry.
Let me start with my vision, before recounting some examples leading me to my heartfelt hope for animals and humanity… Let’s recall ancient times when most folks thought the world was flat. Those who professed the world might be round at the time were ridiculed, perhaps even scorned. Of course, today we know the world is round, and it is hard to imagine anyone believing otherwise. My hope is one day the practice of eating animals will be so outside the realm of reality people will be stupefied and outraged by anyone who suggests eating even one animal.
On the path toward this uplifting vision would be that animals are ordained the same status as humans. They are living, breathing, feeling, sentient beings – and they have and deserve rights, just as humans. Laws are in place to protect human rights, civil rights, worker’s rights, women’s rights, children’s rights, even prisoner’s rights. How about animals? I live for the day when law schools throughout the world offer legal specialization in Animal Rights, because Lord knows they are being violently abused and obliterated, for humans to eat them. I want to see animal rights attorneys fighting to protect and preserve animal rights everywhere – in factory farming, research, hunting, everywhere! Even more so than children, animals are unable to “speak” for themselves. They need human advocates to ensure their lives and the quality of their lives are protected.
Foie gras should be illegal everywhere – period. Ag-gag laws should be outlawed everywhere – period. It is absolutely inhumane to force-feed young ducks until their liver engorges eight or more times normal size, for humans to be able to eat a fatty duck liver. How do you think you would feel if your liver was engorged that size? Inhumane! The public should be allowed to see the reality of animal agriculture everywhere, at any time – total transparency. Factory animal farms realize the cruelty they practice, and recognize the public would likely stop buying and eating meat and dairy products if they were made aware of the abuse and torture factory farms inflict on animals killed for human consumption. In turn, they have propelled and helped implement ag-gag laws to punish and impede would-be whistle-blowers and undercover animal activists, who simply want to inform the public of real-life animal agriculture practices.
One compelling and horribly disturbing story from Vegan: Everyday Stories sheds light. One doctor visits a slaughterhouse on multiple occasions. She was researching and doing some film footage. She recounts numerous incidents during her brief visitations wherein the stun gun missed the cow’s brain, then it is almost impossible to “get it right” with follow-up stunning attempts. So, the cow is still conscious, yet the slaughter process proceeds – she is then hung upside down still moving, very much alive and conscious, her arms and legs are cut off, jerking surely in agony, then her skin is stripped from her tail down by her ears. She is still alive and moving, then her throat is slit, blood gushes out her throat, and after awhile she finally dies. One word – Inhumane! She says this was very common – wow. I cried last night continuing to visualize this beyond cruel slaughtering process.
The Humane Slaughter Act from 1958 (amended in 1978) mandates animals be stunned into unconsciousness before slaughter, to minimize pain. Government inspectors have found “inconsistent” enforcement of this Act. Chickens, turkeys and other birds are not covered by this law. Deplorable – sad, and we call ourselves “civilized”. How is it that a country, a world, where capital punishment is ensured to be humanely executed, can allow such cruel, painful killing of innocent animals who never hurt anyone? They just want to live. They deserve to live.
Back to the doctor at the slaughterhouse – she begins by sharing a heartfelt connection which developed between her and one white cow over multiple visits. She sensed the cow began to trust her after their interactions. Yet, the “slaughter-day” came for the same cow, and there was nothing she could do about it. The cow came right up to her, and she felt it’s trust – it was calm, unlike the other cows which had to be forced into the slaughter chamber. The two locked eyes and the cow calmly moved along toward its death. She felt so powerless and guilty, like she had failed this cow who trusted her. Why is it that killing another human is deemed a criminal act of violence? Yet, killing animals is not only supported by government, but also fiercely protected and disguised by the animal agriculture industry? There is something wrong with this picture. I dream of a day when reality will be shown and animal life will be honored and valued equally to human life. My hope and prayer is that day will come someday.
In another vegan story a female farmer shares the touching tale of her mother lamb giving birth and nurturing, loving, bonding with her newborn. After witnessing this sweet connection between mother lamb and her young over some time, the woman tells it is the day for slaughtering, and the woman intentionally was absent for this event as she knew this was the plan from the start. She then prepared the lamb for dinner. She says this as she fights back tears. I deduced she became vegan after her bonding with that young lamb, then serving it for dinner. Wow – brutal wake up!
How humans can categorize animals into those we love – dogs, cats etc. and those for eating (cows, pigs, lambs, etc.) is really hard for me to understand. The meat and dairy industry obviously want to keep this disassociation, to prevent people from seeing the real-life emotions and cruelty against farmed animals. Seeing tears in the animals’ eyes and their sheer cries of terror as they await slaughter tells me they want to live, they know what is happening, they feel the pain of abuse and poor conditions, and literally their bodies being harmed and then ultimately their lives taken. Animals have souls just as humans – let’s begin treating them with the same respect.
Really hope and pray that one day governments, consumers, the powers-that-be will unequivocally stop harming animals – period. Not for food, not for research, not for trophy hunting. Someday I envision when human consciousness raises to such a state that such acts are agreed to be barbaric, unearthly, ungodly, incomprehensible – for which they are. Hopefully, like the world being flat is such a far distant and false belief, harming, killing, eating animals will be egregious and unacceptable.
As consumers, we can stop purchasing and eating animal products. Surely there are other ways to take a stand and make a difference, still exploring this myself – thus writing this message. Thank you for reading. Thank you for being inquisitive enough to care. Thank you for opening your mind.
May all beings be happy. May all beings be peaceful. May all beings be liberated. INCLUDING ANIMALS.
~ Breanna Faye Helfert