week #6 buy products that come from happy animals

sheepSix weeks into small change and I am yet to make any change that involves the welfare of animals. Please don’t tell my grandmother. She spends every weekend cleaning out cat pens at her local animal shelter. She also distributes collection tins throughout the city to raise funds for the incredible work that Animal Outreaches does in townships surrounding Port Elizabeth, South Africa. Then again, maybe I just redeemed myself by giving her charity an online plug.

When I was eight years old I got my picture taken for the local newspaper because I donated R50 of my pocket money to save bears from being used in fights. In high school I was the president of YAP, the ‘Young Animal People’…or was it ‘Youth Animal Protection’? I digress. The point I am trying to make is that I have always cared about animal protection. The first time I cried in a movie about humans was when I was ten years old. The first time I cried in an animal movie I was about three. To this day, say the name Benji and I still well up.

It’s easy to pinpoint cruelty when one hears stories of dog-fighting or people dumping unwanted pets. However, what about the cruelty we support without even realising we are doing so? For instance, battery-hens are kept in cramped and overcrowded conditions, in which they can barely move; they are sometimes “debeaked” in order to prevent fighting and self-harm; they are denied darkness and food in order to encourage constant egg-laying; and are often found to be living among dead birds and faeces. If I don’t buy free-range eggs, I am saying this is okay. And it isn’t.

I tried to watch a video about intensive pig farming in Europe but the indoor pens in which they are kept are so restrictive that I could only stomach a minute and a half of the five minute video. Yet, I am able to stomach pork that comes from pigs raised under such cruel conditions. Well, no more. No creature should have to suffer so that I can enjoy a pork chop or shoulder steak at a reduced price. I would rather pay a little bit more for an RSPCA endorsed piece of meat and enjoy smaller portions.

This leaflet has some really helpful tips on what to look for when buying responsibly farmed meat, dairy and egg products. By refusing to buy goods which compromise animal welfare, I am taking a stand against the mistreatment of animals; cruelty which will continue unless we do something to give a voice to those who are unable to speak for themselves.

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