Yup, I’m the kid who’d protest when my mother sent me out to swat moths on our screened-in veranda at the cottage. Instead I‘d catch them and release them outside into the dark summer night. The kid who, the first time she ever fished and got a tug on her line, recoiled in horror and shook the line till the fish swam off, to much ridicule. That was also the last time I ever fished, realizing at that point I didn’t want to kill living critters for no good reason.
Animals at risk
Which is all just to say that I’ve always felt deeply connected to the animal world. And now, more than ever, that world is under threat. Species are becoming extinct at an alarming rate. There are far too many humans on the planet, and it’s us, the human race, that’s the big problem. And not only are we a menace to wildlife, we’re a menace to domesticated animals. Our unhealthy addiction to meat means not only damage to the environment in a variety of ways but also untold horrors inflicted on innocent creatures.
Carnivore or herbivore
Look, I’m not a total fanatic. If I were God, yes, I’d have designed a planet in which all creatures were vegetarian.And of course we now know that eating more green stuff and less dead flesh is just the healthy thing to do, for us and the planet. But some animals must eat animals (ahem! Cats, I’m talkin’ to you..), and some humans will insist on flesh. So if you’re one of those, then please, think about what you’re eating and the contradictions in our society: your dog is pampered and loved, but the poor chicken or pig on your plate lived an unspeakable, tortured life. Is that not completely messed up?
If a farmer lets his steers graze in a nice pasture and then goes out one sunny day and shoots them between the eyes so they don’t even know what hit them, well, that’s a far cry from a horrific journey on a crowded cattle truck w/o food and water to an abattoir where sick, injured, terrified cattle are beaten and sometimes left to die agonizing deaths while others are herded onto the killing floor in an atmosphere filled with the smell of blood and fear.
So think about what you eat.
Things you can do for the animals (and yourself)
1. Eat no meat, or less meat. And that includes fish and fowl. (It makes me crazy when someone munching a tuna sandwich or a Chicken McNugget says to me, “Oh, I’m a vegetarian too!” But learn to be a healthy vegetarian by educating yourself. A veggie diet doesn’t consist of salad, popcorn and Mars bars.
2. Don’t buy some sprawling new house on half an acre of good farmland or even bushland. All those animals you’re displacing now have nowhere to go.
3. Support wildlife conservation groups, e.g., WWF (but not those that exist purely to save habitat so humans can take big nasty weapons and slaughter the critters that live there).
4. Stop breeding animals that aren’t endangered. I.e., don’t let your cat or dog have a litter. Fix them young so they can’t get pregnant. Yes, kittens are cute — but the world is overrun with homeless kittens. Don’t adopt a purebred while pounds and shelters are overflowing with loving abandoned pets that will be euthanized for lack of homes.
5. And at the risk of pissing some of you off: Stop breeding yourselves. From this point on in human history, no more than two children — I can’t think of any reason except pure selfishness to do that, and the planet just can’t take any more people. If you CAN give me good reasons to have more than two (or even more than one), I’d love to hear them. As I said, I’m not a total fanatic. But meanwhile support Planned Parenthood, especially in the Third World, and vote out politicians that don’t.