Today, October 2, marks the 36th observance of World Day for Farmed Animals, and my heart is heavy.
It’s heavy because each land animal born to our food system—some seventy billion land animals alone—suffers mightily, the vast majority from birth to the moment of their grisly death.
It’s heavy because I know that these animals desperately want their lives. I know how individual they are; I know their emotional lives are rich and complex. I know that they experience pain, fear, and suffering in the same way we do. In other words, in the ways that matter, we’re all the same–and yet, we humans continue our barbaric and shameful practices.
It’s heavy because while the suffering of land animals is well documented, the suffering of aquatic animals isn’t: they’re under water. We can’t capture the abuse: the 50 mile-long “long lines” baited with hundreds of thousands of hooks; “bottom trawling,” the underwater equivalent of clear-cutting forests which scrapes the ocean floor clean of life; the millions of sea turtles whales, dolphins and others killed as “by-catch.”
It’s heavy because each year trillions of dollars—money that could be spent lifting up people and communities in need and rejuvenating our ailing planet—are spent subsidizing industries that pollute their nearby communities and paying lobbyists to push unethical legislation so these industries can ‘self-regulate.’
It’s heavy because the Amazon, set ablaze by the cattle industry, is still on fire, and it’s heavy because the media’s not paying attention.
It’s heavy because each year’s climate report is “worse than science predicted.” Temperatures are rising more quickly, glaciers and ice sheets are melting faster, seas are warming and rising more quickly than science anticipated, literally threatening life as we know it.
It’s heavy because rather than leading the charge to reverse global warming, America, the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases, is kowtowing to fossil fuel giants and to agribusiness, and lifting or easing a wide variety of industry regulations intended to keep global warming in check.
But the main reason it’s heavy? It’s heavy because despite the fact that millions of meat eaters are aware of the truths laid out above, they will continue to allow habit, convenience, and the like to trump their most cherished values of kindness, compassion, and mercy.
With me on today’s podcast is the incredible Scott David, a former undercover investigator with Compassion Over Killing who worked in three slaughterhouses to bring the truth about these industries to light. We don’t all have to be Scott, but we can certainly channel a bit of his bravery and inspiration to modify our own habits.We can do better— we must do better! We do not have to succumb to inertia in the face of this daunting prospect. We can declare our values and hit these industries where it hurts— in the wallet— for the sake of the animals, for the sake of our own health, and for the sake of the only planet we have got.