“The greatness of a nation can be judged by the way its animals are treated”. These are the words of Mahatma Gandhi. As a saint that was of tremendous influence in the world, this quote should not be taken lightly. And by that I mean it is wise to listen and act according to the words of a saint. One can think about becoming a vegetarian, and a thought it will remain until it is acted upon. Real action must be taken in order for there to be real and profound change in the world, instead of wearing oneself down with high ideals that never materialize. I wish to address the pain that animals undergo in our current society, and what we as individuals can do about it.
The horror of the rhino dehorning in South Africa is but a fraction of the animal cruelty in the world, but nonetheless as significant as any other sadistic practice towards animals. In an article written two days ago it is said that 203 rhinos have been killed this year in South Africa for their horns. These acts of cruelty are a direct result of the demand for rhino horns, as the basic rules of economy teach us. Now I’d like to compare another act of animal cruelty that is happening every day that most people are unaware of. “Dairy farmers routinely mutilate calves in a cruel process called dehorning”, says PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals). The article reports how Ryan Gosling has recently become active in addressing animal welfare and had quite a strong reaction to process of dehorning. He wrote a letter to the National Milk Producers Federation to stress his concern and also recommended breeding polled cows instead (cows born without horns).
There are ways to for the South African public to help reduce the dehorning of rhinos, such as purchasing a rhino horn for your car or buying a bracelet. The profits (we hope) go to the organisations directly involved in eradicating poaching of rhinos from the country. These are actions that we can only hope help to rectify the problem, but guarantee nothing. However, the dehorning of cows is something that can be reduced or stopped just by changing your diet. This is not to say that you must become vegan and avoid milk altogether. A much less stressful action you can take is to simply buy milk from a producer that treats its animals humanely. Of course if you want to have an even bigger impact on society and animals, abstaining from meat (that includes fish!) is one of the best things you can do. I recommend the documentary Earthlings to everyone that needs the push they need to take the dietary leap and become vegetarian.
The purpose of this blog is inspire action from people opposed to just empathy. Empathy is important, but it can be debilitating and leave one feeling helpless and drained. Rhinos are in danger of becoming extinct and thus the publicity they get is well-justified. Yet the dehorning of cows has been going on for years without any major publicity (at least not to my knowledge). This information that has been kept from the public just allows mass-producing animal farms to continue ‘making a killing’ at the expense of the well-being of animals.
There are 600 million vegetarians in the world, so you are not alone if you choose this courageous path. India is known for its high count of vegetarianism, and therefore it is common to be born in a vegetarian household. However, if you live in a country where being vegetarian is uncommon or even frowned upon, the challenge is much greater. Yet the greatness of the challenge is what makes overcoming it all the more rewarding. I became vegetarian four months ago, the day I truly decided to live according to the values I expect from others. Gandhi said this: “We but mirror the world. All the tendencies present in the outer world are to be found in the world of our body. If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him.”