I've had one of those days today when I am constantly reminded of the magnitude of the problem. Some of it I brought on myself, through my own actions; some of it just washed over me regardless. It started on my drive to work when I listened to a podcast on the Canadian seal hunt, later continuing with another on Germany's boycott of battery-cage eggs and culminating in PETA's podcast entitled 'What We Did to Rodney'. In essence, what I was listening to was an exploration of the myriad ways in which mankind is utterly contemptible.
The Canadian seal slaughter (Animal Voices podcast) is an annual occurence which has been protested since the 1960s. Despite creating no significant contribution to the Canadian economy, the hunt continues and I have to wonder why? According to statistics furnished by IFAW,
"the seal hunt accounts for less than one-half of one percent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the province of Newfoundland and Labrador. Any money earned at the hunt is used to supplement other forms of income."
Hmm...so there goes the 'it's their livelihood, we can't interfere' excuse. So let's look at the market for these products. Again according to IFAW, demand for seal products has decreased significantly within mainland Europe - something to which I personally can attest, having grown up in the UK and witnessed my peers turning away from fur products in the 80s. Indeed, one of the biggest remaining markets is Norway, which - let's face it - is a relatively small country. In fact, it has a total population of just over 4.5 million, with an annual growth rate of 0.57%.
Hmm...not exactly a HUGE market.
Given the level of cruelty involved, and the fact that no humane standards can be applied to this hunt, I began the day utterly distressed that this slaughter continues despite generalised public opposition within Canada and despite a complete lack of economic imperative.
On my way home, I listened to PETA's podcast 'What We Did to Rodney' which catalogued part of the surgical training of one veterinarian, Peter M. Henriksen. He writes of how he and his peers used Rodney, a German Shephard dog sold to a research laboratory, to learn how to perform neutering, broken bone reconstruction and abdominal explorations. The incidents recounted by Henriksen detail the animal's slow and painful decline, from one botched surgery to another, until he had finally outlived his usefulness and was euthanised for his pains.
With the number of humane alternatives to animal models in medical research, you would think that we had stepped beyond the desire to inflict ceaseless pain and suffering upon an individual of a 'lower species'. But it seems we have not.
In between listening to these podcasts, I spent my day - as do most vegans, I suppose - around those who casually, indiscriminately and unthinkingly perpetrate and support inexcusable and unconscionable cruelty to the vast legions of animals commonly referred to as 'dinner'. And try as I might, I could not drown out their chatter about the chickens they barbequed or the hams they baked for Easter.
And I just wanted to scream.
Seeing a sign for a 'Pig Roast' to advertise a local sale of Harley-Davidsons truely capped off my day....
I guess I am tired of knowing. Worn down by the scale of the problem. Sickened by the widespread denial that there is even anything wrong with a world that sees fit to torture and kill billions upon billions of our fellow creatures for no justifiable reason whatsoever. And which looks at me, as a vegan, with curious, amused or condescending eyes.
To live - and to live well - we don't need the animals' flesh, their milk, their eggs, their fur, their feathers, their skins, their bones, their lives.
And yet we take them anyway. Because we can.