AS A pre-teen, my attempts to get into animal rights activism were always stunted by one thing, the fact that I still ate meat and animal product s. My experience of pets, having had dogs, four cats, experience with small rodents, fish and rabbits, had made me desperate to go into the world of helping animals, ridding the world of animal testing, encouraging humane ways of still enjoying meat or dairy products.
I blame my attempts to become an activist while still eating meat on being young and naïve, because now, being much older than I was then, I know that it is not truly possible to call yourself an animal rights activist while still consuming meat and dairy products. For myself, the realisation came after coming face to face with what the product of my consumption of meat was, which was, quite simply, the slaughter of these animals.
The truth is that in reality, animals suffer so that those who buy the meat can eat what they want, mostly because they have some kind of perceived love of meat. The most common one I seem to hear is “I could never go vegetarian; I love my bacon/steak/breakfast eggs too much”. I’m sure that almost all of us can say that we’ve heard that exact sentence over and over in our lives.
I realised that being an animal rights activist doesn’t just mean trying to stop people from rubbing shampoo on rabbits, or freeing dogs from being tested on. Sure, it’s easy to think this is all there is to animal activism, because we humanise these animals. We make them seem like they belong in our homes, and because we value them as something more than a cut of meat, we need to stop them being used as a test dummy.
The reality is that all animals feel the same things, whether we’ve petted one on the street, had it living in our home, or we’ve seen it on a farm, it is likely that if it's slaughtered, there's a chance it will feel pain. There is no picking and choosing with animal rights. You either stand up for every creature, or what you’re doing isn’t animal rights activism.
By eating meat, you encourage the inhumane and brutal slaughter of creatures all over the world. You encourage the mass production and mass killings of creatures that perhaps you don’t see as sentient beings, because you’ve only ever seen them on your plate on in a field.
It may sound harsh, however, it took me coming face to face with slaughter to realise that this is exactly what it is. People don’t truly consider creatures such as pigs or sheep as the sweet, fluffy animals that they spend money buying beds and toys for, and because of that, they can justify eating meat to themselves.
There is outrage when we hear of 10,000 dogs being killed in China, but in America alone over 200 million turkeys are killed every year for Thanksgiving. There’s no national outrage there, because we haven’t humanised turkeys, we don’t see them as pets, as lovely creatures that we need to protect.
So no, to me, you cannot be an activist for animal rights while still eating meat. Because the act of eating meat means that you are encouraging an industry of animal abuse, slaughter and needless death.
We wouldn’t eat meat if dogs and cats were being mass produced, so why can we justify it when it’s cows and pigs?