Animal Rights:Our Consciousness and Better Policies
In our quest for the most delicious hamburger... admit it, we usually don't give but a passing thought to the fate of the cattles that we're chewing on. The most important thing to us at the time is that the meat sure is tender and the bbq sauce could use a little more kick in it.
However as animal rights are making waves with its progress all over the world, we should at least pause the chewing for a brief minute and seriously think about it : What is more important - Animal rights or animal welfare?
Upon the confusion between the two, animal rights does not mean how the animals are treated but the actions that one is not allowed to do to an animal in a legal context. It is not about giving rights to animals but of taking rights away from men.
While animal welfare would mean the wellbeing, safety and yes even happiness of the animal regardless whether its that labrador lazing out on the patio or cattles and pigs in the pen before they end up on our plates.
Nicholas D Kristof in one his article offered a hunch that in a century or 2, our descendants will look back on our factory farms with uncomprehending revulsion. While I'm fearing a greater nightmare that we would all start looking like pigs or chickens or cows because of all the vitamins, supplements and mutated feeds given to those animals in factory farms. Remember the proverb: you are what you eat...
But why the interest?
The most important election this November that you've never heard of - is a referendum on animal rights in California, the vanguard state for social movements.
Proposition 2 would ban factory farms from raising chickens, calves or hogs in small pens or cages.
This referendum would take California further from whatever livestock rights that has been passed in states like Florida, Oregon or Colorado.
This is also a major leap in animal right movement which happens to be the more broader trend in the past few years. Even for people like us who enjoy a good mid rare steak once in a while (who I once heard are nick-named as "corpse-crunching" people by some of the hardcore vegans) are also beginning to pay interest and change their attitude in the matter of animal welfare.
For instance, average joes alongside the serious activists have actively campaigned to increase the conditions of animal welfare for farmed animals. In other words to treat their chicken and cattles better.
September 2000: Following PETA's 11-month "McCruelty" campaign, McDonald's becomes the first major U.S. corporation to require that its meat and egg suppliers abide by animal welfare standards.
June 2001: Following PETA's six-month "Murder King" campaign, Burger King agrees to adopt standards that are in some areas better than those adopted by McDonald's.
While their welfare is being fought, awareness for animal rights has also been high for the past couple of years for instance Harvard offers a course on animal rights. While Austrian activists would go so far as to campaign for a Chimpanzee to be declared as a person.
Even in Malaysian Borneo, new breath has been injected into the great orangutan project to protect the habitat as well as the safety of the wild orangutan in Borneo's rainforest.
I grew up in the city of Kuala Lumpur but back in my grandfather's house in Masjid Tanah he raised a modest number of chickens, geese, as well as ducks - and although at night they were kept in locked stalls (for fear of straying hungry foxes) but usually during the day they were let out to roam free around the yard.
Therefore, Im agreeing to Nicholas's words that "Yes, I eat meat. But I draw the lines at animals being raised in cruel conditions."
The law punishes teenage boys who tie up and abuse a stray cat. So why allow industrialists to run factory farms that keep pigs almost all their lives in tiny pens that are barely bigger than they are?
Cruelty may be a subjective world but if it is impossible for a cattle or a pig to turn in its own pen, that would deem in any book to be cruel.
Which is a complete paradox to the lavish treatment we give to some of our pets. For instance in Japan, indulging a pet is not just a hobby anymore but an obsession. So I'm not surprise when watching a recent NHK documentary showing some pet owners lavishing their love for their poodles by going to specialty cooking class to learn how to prepare and serve some high class chewy-sushi for their beloved dogs.
The irony of the issue when someone who eats meat and talk on animal rights was aptly described by Nicholas:
Perhaps it seems like soggy sentimentality as well as hypocrisy to stand up for animal rights, particularly when I enjoy dining on these same animals.
But that is not the case at all because respect for the condition and treatment of animals (not only farmed animals) are still important because we are the only creature on earth with acute understanding of responsibility and accountability for our actions. And we are also answerable to our conscience for the wellbeing of all living thing in this world....