In recent days I have read and heard the term ‘treated like animals’ used frequently to describe an experience or circumstance, and it is a term that strikes a raw nerve for me. When we hear this phrase, few of us are in any doubt about what is being described; it paints a concise word picture that we all understand.
When we are told that individuals were ‘treated like animals’, this instantly conveys a situation where they were treated without dignity and without respect. They were treated without consideration for their basic rights. Depending on the context, being ‘treated like animals’ may additionally imply that they were subjected to degradation, to violence or threatening behaviour, or that they were expected to perform demeaning acts.
And there we have yet another example of how truth and awareness of the desperate plight of our victims hides in plain sight in the language that so many of us use. Deep down, we all know what is happening but we have become carefully disconnected from the implications of the very language that we use. Whilst we tell ourselves and others how we ‘love animals’, whilst we pretend that there are humane ways that we can use our consumer power to demand the use of their bodies and lives that make their only, precious lives a living hell, our very words themselves betray a deeper knowledge.
It’s time to stop and think about what we’re doing and what we’re saying. It’s time to start treating every individual – whatever their species – with the respect that is their due. It’s time to be vegan.