Eid Al-Adha

It’s been a very tough day for me. An emotional rollar coaster day. I have so much going on at work, but it is hard to focus when there is so much pain and suffering. Today was one of those days. I just felt like crying all day and it kept getting worse.

It started off with buckets of tears as I watched the new film released by Animals Australia to coincide with their new campaign to ban factory farming. A fantastic video that tugs at the heart strings. It was comforting to see it shared on so many Facebook pages. I hope it opens hearts and minds and that people make changes.

A long hard day at work came to an end and as I was cycling home. I saw this fella. There was another in his place this time last year. Now, despite living in suburban Indonesia, I live in a gated community and it doesn’t look that much different from one in the US except security is tighter here. An animal like here tied up is certainly a novelty. This guy will be slaughtered on Friday to ‘celebrate’ Eid Al Adha.

I approached him. I tried to pet him, but he wouldn’t let me. He sniffed my hand and I felt his warm breath on my hand. I was welcomed by the guys there who were setting up  what I think must be a tent or a shelter. Possibly for the after slaughter party, I’m not sure. As I looked him in the eye and knew that this was a creature that would be literally fighting for his life in less than 36 hours. That he probably did not want to die. According to Wikipedia, the animal that is slaughtered is just a symbol. A symbol to represent what Abraham’s sacrifice and 100 million animals will be slaughtered over the course of 2 days. I am sure that much of this meat goes to waste. Instead of this senseless violence, can’t we just spend a few minutes thinking deeply about Abraham’s sacrifice instead of having to bring an innocent animal in to it?

In case anyone thinks I am being anti-Islamic here, I swear I am not. I have had several discussions with some behavioral omnivores who feel that this holiday is incredibly barbaric. I agree… But I find any ritual or tradition that needlessly kills an animal for the sake of tradition barbaric. The turkey that is the centre of the dinner table at Christmas and Thanksgiving, hunting for eggs at Easter time, steak on BBQ, it’s all unnecessary. The difference is in Islamic countries you look in to the animals eyes and use the knife. With turkey, someone else has been paid to do that for you. I have observed many rituals and festivals without the use of animals and the feeling that my special meal has come together without intentionally harming any living thing is so wonderful. I celebrate Christmas. Isn’t peace supposed to be a focus of Christmas? Christmas took on new meaning for me when I gave up all animal products.

To the beautiful bull with a gentle face and kind eyes not 50 metres from my house. I wish I could save you. I will just keep raising awareness so that your death was not in vein. I hope your death is swift and as painless as possible. Know that there are some people speaking for you and your kind.


Livestock Transportation in Indonesia

Right outside my work is a busy intersection. I usually head home from work between 4 and 5 pm and as I am inevitably caught at the  traffic lights I often catch up to one of these trucks that are transporting chickens. It breaks my heart because I know where they are headed.

There is often the idea that animals for food in Asia are raised in villages and they have a lovely life, however this is simply not true. Yes, many rural families will keep a few animals for their own consumption, but I don’t see all 15 million inhabitants of Jakarta with their ‘own’ animals in their back yards. There are factory farms in Asia just like there are in the rest of the world. The problem is, that it is so much worse. In our countries we have some laws to protect animals although they are very weak, poorly punished when they are broken and rarely enforced. In Indonesia there is nothing, indeed we KNOW that animals are not treated humanely during life and at the end of it. We know this as it has been documented by Animals Australia.

The other week, I went out for dinner with my colleagues and we had to pull over for the other car to catch up with us. While I was standing there for 5 minutes, 3 of these trucks passed me by. My heart broke a little as I watched and thought how scared those animals must be and for the fate that awaited them, for this is the truth of the animal livestock industry. I have no idea whether these animals were destined for meat or for egg production, regardless though, they will end their lives violently and with terrible fear and anguish. And for no good reason other than we can.

Protest Against Live Export in Australia

I absolutely love this pamphlet produced by the Vegan Society of NSW. The are encouraging people to print and distribute during the big ‘Anti-Live Export’ Rally that is happening on 14th of August. Certainly not all the people in attendance will be vegan, but hopefully leaflets like this will make people realise that all animals are worthy of our compassion. I wish I could be there to show my support.

Download this file

My Response to the Four Corners Report on Live Exports to Indonesia

It was with great trepidation that I sat down to watch the Four Corners investigation. For those outside of Australia, Four Corners is a highly respected investigative journalist show that airs on the ABC. The subject was the the live export of cattle to Indonesia. Animals are raised, sent over to Indonesia, fattened up a bit and then slaughtered for local consumption. I was ready to see some gruesome footage, I mean, I’ve seen Earthlings.

You can watch the show here, but it is gruesome. I saw a few glimpses of the actual violence and had to turn the screen off and just listen to the audio so I could get the gist of the story. The story is terrible. Australia has been exporting cattle to Indonesia since 1982. The export companies have been aware of just how horrific it is.  Although they have attempted to improve things, they have been completely ineffectual and tokenistic. I came away absolutely shocked with the images, (and remember I have seen Earthlings) and I was unable to sleep that night. The awful images of those cows burned into my brain.

A very positive part of this investigation is that it has created a huge dialogue in Australia. People are outraged and some very small steps  have been taken by the government to fix the problem, but there will still be thousands of cattle exported to Indonesia this year who will suffer the same feat. The Australian public and some politicians and organisations are applying political pressure. You can too by signing this petition and sharing it throughout your social media networks. It gets submitted to the Australian government at 3pm, Friday 3rd of June Australian time. It literally takes 5 seconds. If you have 5 minutes, please write The Aust PM a quick letter here.

I want to take a bit of time to discuss some of my thoughts about this issue, a perspective of a person who lives in a developing country (or whatever is the most PC way to call poorer countries these days). As a vegan and someone who has come to abhore the exploitation of animals in any context I think there is a bit of a disconnect by meat eaters when it comes to this issue. The issue of inhumane slaughter and hoe widespread it is.

Of the people I know, many of them are meat eaters. I think many of these people who believe it is their right to be able to eat meat, however, I am sure the exact same number of people would agree that those animals should be slaughtered humanely. I am sure most people believe that animals are slaughtered humanely. Sadly though, I don’t think a meat eater can ever be sure of this.

I have a few responses to some comments that some people might voice about this latest outcry.

1. I don’t live in Indonesia. I abhore what I saw in this documentary, and it should stop. I won’t be eating any Indonesian meat. This doesn’t apply to me.

Yep. Without a doubt this slaughter footage was absolutely grotesque and some of the worst I have ever seen, but this type of slaughter goes on in many poorer countries around the world. The main reason is that there are very few laws regarding the humane slaughter of animals in these countries and where there are laws, they are lax and badly enforced. If you eat animal products from these poorer countries like Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam and China, you can be sure that there are no inspectors at the slaughterhouse, there is corruption galore, expensive equipment to make sure it is humane is not considered essential, animal rights groups have a low profile and there is little information out there. It is highly likely these animals have had a painful death. Can you be sure the meat you eat was humanely slaughtered?

2. I live in the US, Canada, UK, EU, NZ or Australia. We have proper laws to prevent this kind of cruelty. This wouldn’t happen to the animals I eat.

Yep. To a certain extent that is true.These countries do have some laws to protect the animals when it comes to their last few days of their very short life, BUT, much of the meat that is eaten in richer countries is actually produced and slaughter in less developed countries. Thailand for example, is a massive exporter of chicken products to places like the EU.There is also plenty of evidence that inhumane slaughter in richer countries happens on a frequent basis. Can you be sure that the meat you eat was humanely slaughtered?

3. I only eat free-range animal products. This wouldn’t happen to the animals I eat.

The words ‘free-range’ is only really a marketing term. In most richer countries, this term doesn’t actually have much meaning in a majority of cases. The animals still have incredibly short lives and they are slaughtered in exactly the same places as factory farmed animals. Laws prevent most animals being slaughtered on farms for hygiene reasons and in many countries, chickens and rabbits are not even covered by humane slaughter laws so there is no protection from them either. So no guarantees there either. Are you sure your meat is humanely slaughtered?

4. I am vegetarian. 

Fantastic. You have obviously given this issue a lot of thought whether you are doing it for health reasons, the environment or because the animal cruelty issue freaks you out you have made some changes that will help animals. However, animals are still inhumanely slaughtered for milk and cheese. Think about the egg laying hen who is now no longer able to produce eggs. She goes to the exact same slaughterhouses as the other animals. What about the male chicks born in the hatcheries? They are of no use so they are slaughter inhumanely by being ground up in grinder or  suffocated to death in black bin bags or boxes. Dairy… Dairy cows are slaughtered when they can no longer be profitable and the calves born to the cows in order to produce milk suffer a similar fate to their mothers if they are female and the males wind up in the veal industry where thei short miserable lives end in with fear and the possibility of inhumane slaughter. A fish eating vegetarian? Fish are not humanely slaughtered. They are brought to the surface where they slowly suffocate. Something that is very painful and scary. Can you be sure that the products you eat came from animals that were humanely slaughtered?

In my mind, if you want to be sure that the animal has not been inhumanely slaughtered, then the only way you can do that is raise your own animals, or just stop eating them. Just drop me a line if you are interested in doing this. I will be happy to guide you. But let’s also remember that inhumane slaughter is just one of the ways in which we exploit animals. This post doesn’t address things like the cruelty these animals endure in their short lives on factory farms for example, wool production, vivisection, circuses or the use of animals in entertainment amongst others. It is really just the tip of the iceberg. Without a doubt, there is a long way to ensure that animals are not treated cruelly and even further from where I would like them to be; free. Reject the violence and go veg. It is the only way you can be sure that you are not contributing to suffering.

As usual, don’t take my word for all of this stuff. A great place to start is by listening to these podcasts and start from there.