In this week’s spotlight I would like to address an important subject—one very meaningful to me and dear to the heart of my pretty bride: animal rights. We live at a time when many rights are hotly debated. We discuss the rights of minorities, the right to life, the right to bear arms, the right to privacy, the right to protest, and so forth; but in my mind, any truly compassionate person should also be thinking about animal rights.
3 Per Hour Toward Extinction
Did you know that 2.7 million animals that go to shelters are destroyed every year? Further, according to Harvard University, “Approximately 30,000 species per year — about three per hour — are being driven to extinction.”1 Additional facts lead us to learn that: “1. Approximately one in 20 motor vehicle collisions reported in the United States involves an animal. 2. There are more than 1.5 million collisions between vehicles and deer each year in the United States. 3. More than one million seals have been killed in the annual seal hunts in Canada during the last five years. Harp seals are the primary targets of the hunters. Approximately 97 percent of the harp seals killed are pups less than three months old. 4. There are more than 1,000 captive animal hunting operations in the United States. 5. More than 100 million animals are reported killed by hunters in the United States each year. 6. The population of wildlife throughout the world decreased in size by approximately 52 percent between 1970 and 2010. The human population more than doubled in size during the period.2
45 Billion Killed for Food
Are you also aware that “the worldwide number of animals killed for food in 2000 was 45 billion, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization? This included 306 million cattle, buffalo, and calves, 1.2 billion pigs, 795 million sheep and goats, and 42.7 billion chickens, ducks, turkeys and geese.”3 Further, despite efforts to improve slaughtering methods by requiring a two phase process, stun the animal unconscious (usually via electric current) and then kill the animal, this process is not always observed. Several groups have filmed slaughter yards where the animals are deliberately abused while participants mock and laugh at the process.
We see more and more labels today assuring us that farm animals are treated well, but when you look behind the scenes you find this to be false to fact as well. Dr. Temple Grandin makes a point of informing us that labeling is all about marketing—not necessarily the welfare of the animals involved.4
When you view the big picture, it’s no wonder so many people are prioritizing their lives just a bit more around the idea of compassion for beasts large and small. It’s easy to eat that burger when you don’t see the full scene involved in the big picture, but when you do—that burger is not so appetizing. Consequently, more and more people are becoming vegetarians. This is not some fad. Indeed the numbers show that both vegetarianism and veganism are growing rapidly. Add to the animal welfare concerns all the emerging benefits behind the whole food plant based diet, and the momentum for both is accelerating. The fact is, there has been a 600% increase in the number of vegans in the last three years. Further, quoting the Food Revolution Network, “Plant-Strong Athletes Across Many Sports Are Busting Myths and Achieving Unbelievable Results… Professional athletes are proving that a plant-based diet can fuel excellence. Athletes in everything from weightlifting and bodybuilding to ultramarathon running and tennis are being vocal about their love of plant-based eating.”5
Given everything, I submit that reevaluating what you eat and why is an important aspect in taking responsibility for who you are, what you do, and why you do it? As for me, I am about 90% vegan. I still sometimes enjoy a little dairy from time to time but even there I am much more comfortable when the eggs come from my pretty brides chickens for I know how much TLC she gives them.
My thoughts anyway, what are yours?
4. Rafal Gerszak. 2017. The cage-free egg trend: Is it just a shell game? The Globe and Mail. November 12, 2017.
5. Lindsay Oberst. 2018. Why the Global Rise in Vegan and Plant-Based Eating Isn’t A Fad (600% Increase in U.S. Vegans + Other Astounding Stats). Food Revolution Network. January 18, 2018.