Following on from yesterdays guest post on World Vegetarian Day, today is World Farm Animal Day. At the end of last year, I was a little bit involved in a documentary created by Animal Liberation Aotearoa called “Who are you having for dinner? The reality of meat production in New Zealand“.
On a trip up north with a friend, we stopped off at the Morewa slaughterhouse to have a look. In a field outside we saw a cow with blood dripping from her teats. We took some photos and video footage, and continued on our trip. All the way there and back I couldn’t stop thinking about this cow, and started thinking through what I could do to help her. The following day I hired a ute with a horse-float trailer and went back up to Morewa with a few others to try and rescue her. Unfortunately she was gone, but we went inside the slaughterhouse and took some footage of the cows that were in the slaughter line, ready to be killed the next day. I didn’t realise it at the time, but I actually shot some footage of “Bessie” as we had named her.
The video below pretty much explains my choice to be vegan.
As for the heated the debate yesterday over the guest poster’s unfortunate choice of words (I don’t know the author): To put it simply, you cannot be a socialist, a greenie or any kind of progressive and eat meat.
It wouldn’t be how I would put it, but I guess we all in our own heads think our belief system is the most right or ethical or superior or whatever. The key thing is that we respect other viewpoints and work together where we do agree. That’s why in political lobbying on animal welfare I’m only trying to achieve gains where the public is already onside. At the same time, I would of course like to convince as many people as possible to personally go vegan!
I remember a few years ago, I participated in a 6 week investigation into a Tegel chicken farm. It was pretty intense, and involved going to the farm over a dozen times documenting the life of a shed of chickens, watching them grow so fast they couldn’t support their weight, watching many of them die of starvation or dehydration as the feeders were moved up each week to ensure only those that grew fast enough would survive, watching others stop being able to walk as leg tumors are a common deformity in chickens bred to grow so fast.
Some time during the investigation I went over to my mothers place for dinner and she served up a roast chicken (obviously not for me). While this is something I am normally fairly well adjusted to (most of the world eat meat), seeing what I was seeing at the time made me want to scream and yell and cry.
I imagine it to be similar to how someone involved in a union campaign might feel if they had to sit down for dinner with the CEO of the company that has illegally locked out its workers, knowing how that CEO’s choices are causing suffering for others. Or how someone who has just visited a sweat shop in a third world country might feel watching someone show off their brand new Nike shoes.
My grandparents were farmers, and even at one stage had a rabbit factory farm for angora fur. I struggled to get past that, and likewise they struggled with my decision to not eat meat. Initially they would attack me for not eating meat every time they saw me. Now we are past that and accept our differences. My grandmother even makes really yummy vegan food for me every time I visit.
You can get past the fact that people have different views, or have a different level of commitment in their personal life to consuming only ethical products. But that respect and tolerance goes both ways. I have been attacked for my choices far more often than I have attacked others for theirs.
One thing I learnt early on is that attacking someone is a good way to ensure you never convince them of your beliefs. I think that’s a lesson many people on all sides of the political spectrum need to learn.