Alice Walker author of The Color Purple said, “The animals of the world exist for their own reasons. They were not made for humans any more than black people were made for white, or women created for men.” The Greens have always had great policies involving marginalised groups in society by giving them not only a voice, but also a series of policies for hope to thrive.
Just as we don’t profit from the use of black people working as slaves we should not be profiting from the use of animals as slaves or property anymore. We live in a society where 58 billion land animals and 1-3 trillion water animals are killed for human consumption each year. I hope those numbers are shocking to you. When there are so many alternatives to using and abusing our animal friends, I feel the need to share my thoughts on why animals should not be used for profit.
We don’t need to use animals for many different reasons, but the most important one is that they are not ours to use. Animals are sentient beings with families and the ability to feel pain, hunger, loss and fear as much as you and I. Just because they do not speak as we do and cannot vocalise their dissent does not mean that their lives are of any lesser value than ours.
It’s wrong to use animals because we all know that to consume animal flesh means another has to die to fill our bellies with food not needed. A whole food, plant-based diet is the optimal diet for us all. When we were children, we connected and empathised with our animal friends before those feelings were suppressed in order to keep our parents and society happy because, after all, we supposedly need animals’ flesh and secretions to be healthy. I know of many Greens members who are vegan or vegetarian and who agree with my opinions especially in relation to “Farm” Animals.
The Greens have a lot of welfare provisions in place for animals but, to me, this does not address the real issue at stake: that we don’t need to be creating lives to abuse and destroy in order for us to survive. In the Greens Animal Welfare Policy (revised May 2010) the five principles to be undertaken in regards to animals in our care show an emphasis on Freedom from hunger and thirst; discomfort; pain, injury or disease; fear and distress; and freedom to express normal behaviour.
I’m sure if you’ve seen undercover footage of farm animals you would be aware that not only do these animals not get the correct care or adequate food that they need. Many are in pain and discomfort; suffer injuries and diseases; and in no way are able to express their normal behaviour in an unnatural environment full of fear, abuse and death. The Greens consider it environmentally essential to decrease production of animals for food and other animal products and have policies in place to phase out intensive meat, egg and dairy productions, mentioning feedlots and battery-caged hens in particular. These are great moves from the Greens, but I don’t believe it’s enough to regulate the amount of abuse or the way animals are abused, rather the abuse should be forever abolished. Free-range, barn-raised and other such terms are still just as devastating to the animals held captive in these arenas. The animals all still are abused and killed in the same way, just with a different view.
There are so many studies promoting the benefits of a vegan lifestyle and many books, websites and documentaries you can find on this subject. Some of my favourites include: The China Study book, Forks over Knives the DVD and book, Earthlings documentary, and the amazing Making the Connection short film from the UK Vegan Society. There are many reasons to adopt a vegan lifestyle including the obvious benefits to our animal friends as well as the benefits to our own health. Environmentally speaking, relying on an animal-based diet will not be sustainable for our planet for much longer as farming animals is responsible for more greenhouse gas emissions than all transport put together and is a major source of water and land degradation.
The Greens aim to replace the status of non-human animals as “property” within current legislation to one of “beings” with recognizable legal rights. When animals are seen as more than property, more than commodities and more than food they will get the respect and the protection that they need to live their lives free from not only hunger, thirst, and discomfort but also knowing that they can live happy and fulfilling lives as they should be living: in freedom from birth until death.
See: vegansocietynsw.com & vegetarianvictoria.org.au/cms/articles/eatinguptheworldv3.pdf
Leigh-Chantelle lives mostly in sunny Brisbane, Australia and runs the online vegan community vivalavegan.net, the not-for-profit environmental awareness Green Earth Group as well as coordinates Social Media Marketing. Leigh-Chantelle believes in the rights of all beings, networking, surrounding herself with people on the same life path as her and she is a bit obsessed with quinoa.
This article was originally published (with some editing due to space constraints) in the Spring 2011 edition of GreenMail, the Members-only magazine from the Australian Greens party of New South Wales and was followed with an article from the other side of the fence by Jeremy Bradley who is a carbon farming researcher.
Read the The Greens NSW Animal Welfare Policy and all their policies: http://nsw.greens.org.au/policies/nsw
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