Here’s someone with a lovely face. His name was Rannoch. In this photo he was watching the track to the house, waiting to catch sight of me. He would wait there all day, if that’s what it took.
Some might look at him and claim that he was ‘bred for hunting’ or ‘bred as a laboratory test subject’, or even ‘bred for eating’ as their justification for enforcing their will over his and compellling him to serve their interests at the expense of his own.
Would that label have changed anything? Would that label have meant that using, killing or brutalising him would have been morally right? Would it mean that I could have betrayed him without conscience? Of course it wouldn’t. Rannoch never knew violence or torment, was never beaten or coerced into actions against his will or his interests. Every day his joy and enthusiasm made it clear that he enjoyed his life and did not want to die. His life was his. It wasn’t mine; I have my own life and it’s the only life over which I have any rights.
Brandishing any of the made-up labels we hear such as ‘bred for eating’, bred as a test subject’ or ‘bred for fur’ as a declaration of intent to rob him of the life he loved could never have changed his right to live that life that was his and his alone, or the responsibility I had for his well-being. He lived with me as he grew old and ill and in the end, death separated us in 2009. His dying was as free of fear as I could possibly make it, I took away his pain and the price I paid is an ache that has never gone away. He is remembered every day, his name is spoken often and he is still my beloved friend.
Here’s someone else with a lovely face. He had no name but his inventory number was 3985466. With our stated goal the desecrating of his defenceless corpse, 3985466 was ‘bred for eating’ and our impatience for his life to end hid its ravening face behind a made-up reason on an imaginary label.
Every day he made it clear that his life was important to him. He mattered. He was special to himself. He was special to his family and he was special to his friends. In fact he was just like Rannoch in every way but one. Unlike Rannoch, no one knew who he was and frankly no one cared. His daily experiences and the life he valued were simply an inconvenience for our species; a time-consuming prelude to our main event. His living and the life he treasured were a tiresome delay to a species impatient to use their saws and blades to dispense with the inconvenience of the warm and breathing self inhabiting his corpse.
Every moment of his existence was financially optimised to ensure his corpse made as much profit as possible for the least possible outlay. No one ever gave a damn about HIM; his life, his thoughts, his feelings or his well-being as a unique individual. Although we are encouraged to think it does, the industry word ‘welfare’ has nothing to do with any of these things. The word ‘welfare’ refers to a set of industry guidelines to standardise practices, minimise risk to assets and employees, and maximise profit.
Number 3985466 is dead now. Unlike Rannoch, 3985466 didn’t die of infirmity and old age. No tears were shed over his dying and he is not mourned. He was only five months old and he desperately didn’t want to die. He fought for his life with every last ounce of the strength that faded with the blood throbbing from his gashed throat. Yet the sobbing, begging terror of his gory, electric-prodded slaughter was the stuff of nightmares.
That there is absolutely no need for the human animal to consume other animals or their eggs or breast milk is a truth that so many resist, clinging desperately myths learned in childhood and reinforced by vested interests. while staring defiance into the face of scientific fact.
Most of us grew up being told that individuals like 3985466 were ‘bred for eating’. The law regards him – and Rannoch for that matter – as ‘things’, as ‘property’. Did that mean that killing him was morally right? Did that mean we need have no conscience about the miseries that we forced him to endure?
Of course not. Brandishing any made-up label as a declaration of intent in an attempt to justify enforcing our will over another, and compelling them to serve our interests at the expense of their own, does not excuse us, nor does it make our wanton savagery any less brutal. History is littered with atrocities that were perpetrated within the law of the time. What the law allows does not, and cannot, take away our personal responsibility for the horrors that are done in our name.
For 3985466 and for the 1.5 billion of his brethren whose lives are hacked from them in our slaughterhouses in a single year, nothing we do can change their fate. All we can do is act in the present and aim for the future. By being vegan, we can slowly bring the river of their blood to a halt by refusing to keep paying for it.
Why not find out about being vegan today, for Rannoch and for 3985466?
Statistics by FAOSTAT