opinion

'I am an animal lover and advocate. Don't call me a hypocrite for eating meat.'

I am a proud animal lover and animal welfare advocate.

I also eat meat.

According to some, including a friend of my own, this choice makes me a hypocrite.

To this group of people (and my said friend), my protein staple of ethically sourced chicken (and yes, I’ll be honest the very occasional Bacon and Egg McMuffin- for hangover relief) makes me number one on the PETA most wanted list.

While I respect their opinion and can see why some people might view it this way, I also respectfully disagree.

In reality, by saying you only constitute as a true animal lover if you don’t eat meat simplifies the issue into something far more straightforward than it really is. It groups a whole range of people into the one category; from the abhorrent animal trophy hunters sourcing animal heads for their billiard room back home, to the 80-year-old roast loving Nan whose closest companion is her adoring Poodle, it even includes many dedicated vets who spend much of their life putting our animals first.

Why do we love our dogs so much? Post continues below.

Video by mmc

And this is not fair or accurate.

The truth is people can eat meat and still have strong briefs in animal rights, ethics, and welfare.

And I am one of them.

Here are some basic facts about me (and facts also true of many of the animal lovers out there.)

  • I am passionate about animal welfare for all species of animals, far and wide.
  • For me, animal cruelty is a major issue and needs to end.
  • My charities of choice are always animal or wildlife welfare groups.
  • I am a proud animal mother of rescue animals (three goats and two felines)
  • I am one of those people who say and fully believe in, “adopt don’t shop” when it comes to finding a pet.
  • I physically cringe when I see animal fur being worn or an animal ‘trophy’ on display.
  • I cry in animal movies (even animated ones.)
  • I was traumatised after hearing the truth about the real Milo(s) and Otis(s), the whale in Free Willy and other animal actors who were not treated as they should have been.
  • I cannot watch those horrendous social media videos that are circulated by PETA or other animal advocacy groups – not because I am in denial of what is happening but because I would literally either hysterically cry or vomit if I did view them.
  • My biggest fear is hitting an animal with my car.
  • My social media and photo frames are filled with images of my animals.
  • I have a not so secret celebrity crush on Dr. Chris Brown (and yes, my husband is VERY aware.)
  • Losing my own fur son, Lego my ginger boy, was one of the hardest events of my life and thinking about it still makes my heart sink.
  • I believe that animals are in 99% of cases, far better than humans.

I know my position as an animal lover who also eats meat is not particularly unique, that there are in fact many of us out there. I also know that there are some who have strong views about this. For them, our meat-eating, animal-loving position is problematic, hypocritical even. Or as my friend said it: “If you really, truly, genuinely cared about animals you would just not eat meat. It’s as simple as that.”

ADVERTISEMENT

But the fact is, it is not simple, and it is absolutely not true.

Beliefs and comments like these oversimplify a very complex issue, are incredibly hurtful, insulting and unhelpful for those of us who are legitimate animal lovers and advocates who also enjoy a burger.

While I totally respect and admire the choice of vegans and vegetarians who choose this diet and lifestyle for animal exploitation reasons, I also believe it is not the best choice for everyone and they are not the only ways people can care for and show their love for animals.

The Mamamia Out Loud team chat about Australia’s vegan farm protests. Post continues below.

There are many other choices that can be made to advocate, help and care for them and that can really make a significant difference to a variety of animal-related issues. From specific species, animal groups or individual animals, as well as to increase awareness for them.

Some of these choices that I (and many other animal lovers) actively make, include:

  • Following a diet with less red meat
  • Choosing ethically sourced meat, fish and poultry when we do eat it.
  • By using skincare and beauty products that are not tested on animals and are approved by PETA (see the list here).
  • Having at least one meat-free day per week.
  • By avoiding products that include palm oil.
  • Not attending circuses with animals involved or participating in unethical animal tourism.
  • By donating to animal welfare charities.
  • Sharing shelter animals via social media to help find them homes.
  • Adopting animals rather than purchasing them from pet shops or breeders.

All of these measures can be effective and productive ways to support animals and should not be underestimated in their ability to make a real difference.

So, as I sit here writing this story, listening to the contented purrs of my two rescue cats, the one on my lap and the other on my feet, it is clear to me, that for them it is not what protein I consume but the fact that they now have a family they a part of that matters most. For me, like many animal lovers it’s these sorts of actions which really make you someone who truly cares for animals.

Shona Hendley, ‘Mother of Cats, Goats and Humans’ is a freelance writer from Victoria. An ex secondary school teacher, Shona has a strong interest in education, she is also a passionate animal advocate.You can follow her on Instagram.

00:00 / ???