Do you believe in kindness and compassion towards animals?
A majority of us do, so the statistics show. And in increasing numbers, people are starting to draw a direct line between how they feel about animals and how often they eat them.
And the reason for this might surprise you: YouTube.
Acts of animal cruelty and suffering that until recently were hidden from view under a veil of secrecy are now on full display and free for anyone to see in just a couple of clicks. From the veritable torture of sheep in the live export trade, the bashing of joeys in the commercial kangaroo industry, to the appalling treatment of battery hens and pregnant pigs in intensive factory farming; thanks to social media, we are now all bystanders, witnesses. If we choose to look.
The animal movement is a new social justice movement and with the ability for people to upload and share content via YouTube and social media, animal advocacy organisations are suddenly multiplying, growing larger and stronger and employing teams of undercover investigators. What they find can be hard to watch but important to see. Several videos on YouTube, for example, capturing footage of the grinding alive (maceration) of unwanted baby male chicks in the egg industry have been viewed by over six million people. Hundreds of thousands have watched videos of the unwanted baby calves of the Australian dairy industry, one day old with their umbilical cord still attached, thrown into trucks for slaughter.
What do we do with all these scenes, so traumatic, unjust, violent and yet legal? We feel shock, grief and finally… anger. But, how do we transform our fury to action and stop the cruelty?
Many people are choosing to change their eating habits. Because, of course, once we reduce demand for inhumanly farmed products, we reduce the supply. And reduced supply equals fewer animals suffering for our food.
It seems like a simple equation. We find out there’s a problem, decide to act, and the industries close or adapt, solving the problem.
However, it’s not so easy.
We are humans and we’re complicated, imperfect, with strong emotional attachments. And one of our biggest attachments is food.
Food is not just a simple source of nutrition and nourishment, it is part of our culture, family and social traditions. It’s a connection between us and our loved ones, treasured childhood memories and lifelong habits. Changing what we eat is hard.