The sixth deadly sin committed while living unconciously – supporting the egg industry

Plett and end April 2011 033

Running a Chicken Rescue organisation this is a topic close to my heart. I have rescued many ex battery hens, and I have witnesses first hand over and over again the abhorrent nature of this industry.  An industry that uses and abuses these noble birds in conditions which are wholly inadequate to meet even some of their basic needs, and spits them out to meet a grim end.

The majority of eggs sold in the supermarkets and smaller retail outlets are bought for re sale from factory farming outlets called battery farms. The hens in battery would have been brought up in large overcrowded hatcheries and put into cages with a wire floor space no bigger than an A4 piece of paper for the next year of their lives from laying age (approximately 5 months).  They would have shared this space with 2 to 3 other hens. No grass, no sun, no sky, no dust to dust bath in, no space to exercise or spread their wings. At day 1 they would have had a portion of their beaks seared off with a burning hot blade to eliminate pecking and bullying each other in overcrowded, stressful conditions – no pain meds, after damage care, or anaesthetic.  After a year of egg production under trying conditions, theses hens are sold for pets mince, composite chicken products (chicken nuggets or burgers) or informal slaughter in poorer communities. The final clearing of the battery houses and transportation to their final destination is a callous affair, leaving bruised and broken bodies.

In a medium to small type enterprise, you can have up to 100 000 hens confined. The processing of these numbers leaves little room for compassion or care.

Battery
 

Buying and eating eggs from a battery facility is an absolute ‘no no’. It is an unhealthy practice for both you and the chicken.

So what about free range? The free range egg industry is a minefield to negotiate, as the term ‘free range’ can often refer to barn raised hens. Large warehouse type facilities where the hens can walk around inside, but are still denied natural light, a place to dustbath, grass etc, but also fall victim to massive overcrowding. They still would have had their beaks seared, they will still be cleared out after a year to a year and a half, and they are still disposed of in gruesome ways. Free Range can also mean they have access to an outside area, but again the conditions are crowded, and they are certainly not living in meadow type conditions, Often concrete flooring for easy control of hygiene levels.

I have to stress, the egg industry ONLY makes financial sense in large numbers. There is not a great mark up on eggs, and therefore limiting your financial input  while gleaning as much as you can out of your hens, becomes the target. Once this happens, corners are cut, and your hens become products, not sentient beings with emotional, physiological and psychological needs to fill.

So, is free range better than battery? Yes, it is. Is free range devoid of cruelty? Absolutely not. What is the solution? In my books, its simple – cut eggs out of your diet, then I can ensure I am not buying into this cruelty. If you still feel you need eggs, have two or three of your own rescue laying hens (if you can provide them with what they need), or investigate your local small farm set ups. However, I can tell you, that to date, I have still not found a local producer in South Africa, where all cruelty is eliminated. There are substantially better set ups than others, but nothing I would choose to support.

Rachel day 1 - This is generally what an ex battery hen looks like when we receive them. Abused, a little featherless, damaged feathers, skin tears, often sick, sore feet, long nails, whitish comb, and grey around the eyes, droopy comb - the list continues
Rachel day 1 – This is generally what an ex battery hen looks like when we receive them. Abused, a little featherless, damaged feathers, skin tears, often sick, sore feet, long nails, whitish comb, and grey around the eyes, droopy comb – the list continues
Rachel recovered
Rachel recovered – 6 months later

Read some of our other posts, we have posted a lot on this subject over the years.

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5th Deadly sin committed while living unconsciously – pleasure and leisure activities involving animals

Let me attempt to define what I mean by pleasure activities involving animals. This is any activity that involves an animal, or animals, that humans derive pleasure or gratification from, where the animal/s involved have

  • Either been trained into submission over time to partake in the required activity
  • Forced against their will to partake in whatever is being required of them
  • Removed from a situation that is healthy for that animal to a situation that is far less desirable for that particular animal or animals

In short abuse and domination by human beings are at play.

There has been a solid amount of research done on the link between animal abuse and human abuse. So much so, that in certain States in the USA and New Zealand, the animal shelters and domestic violence units are starting to work in conjunction with each other. Invariably when a case of animal abuse or neglect is reported it is an indicator of abuse going on in the home amongst the people living there, and visa versa.

“a history of animal abuse was found in 25% of aggressive male criminals, 30% of convicted child molesters, 36% of those who assaulted woman and 46% of those convicted of Sexual homicide (Petrovoski 1997)’.

http://www.vawnet.org/Assoc_Files_VAWnet/AnimalCrueltyHumanViolence.pdf

you can also visit the following website for more information on this interesting topic http://www.humanesociety.org/issues/abuse_neglect/qa/cruelty_violence_connection_faq.html

“Too many law enforcement officials still don’t realize that violence is violence,” said   Ponder. “Animal cruelty is wrong in its own right, but it also can lead to eventual violence against people if it is ignored.”

For more information on The HSUS’ First Strike! Campaign, visit The HSUS’ web site, www.hsus.org.

Week after week, I see acquaintances and Facebook friends posting pics of their kids catching fish with captions reading ‘Bert’s first catch’. Then the nauseating comments that follow ‘well done Bert’, ‘like father like son, what a catch’. Really? Let’s re phrase this ‘Bert’s first kill’. If these are the levels of compassion being role modelled for our kids, and the activities sanctioned and encouraged by parents, then its little wonder our world is full of violence, intolerance, hatred and disrespect.

Does this mean young Bert is going to end up a serial killer, child molester or sexual predator? Probably not, however the line between killing that fish, hunting that antelope, and hurting or bullying (verbal or physical) your family pet and then your peer, friends (or partner in later life), becomes a finer line than it was before.

So some of the cruel activities we support in pursuit of pleasure needs to be interrogated if we are to start eliminating the circle of violence in our society. This does not mean if you have at any stage supported the following, you are on a slippery slope downhill, however if you are not prepared to take a look at what sits behind these activities, acknowledge them for what they are, and take a personal stand against supporting them, then that, for me, is a worrying mindset.

These are some of the activities that come to mind – horse racing, rodeo, running with the bulls, bull fighting, dog fighting, cock fighting, sea world, petting zoos, zoos, live animals in education, snake milking, snake charming, hunting, fishing, circuses that use animals, elephant interactions, petting baby lions, religious ceremonies, such as Kapparot involving the use of live chickens and the Gadhimai festival in Nepal, bug collecting boxes, And of course if I really want to open a can of worms, eating animals measures up against the criteria I have outlined above.

http://www.hdwallpapersinn.com/running-bulls-wallpapers.html
http://www.hdwallpapersinn.com/running-bulls-wallpapers.html

Let’s have a look at some of these leisure and pleasure pursuits in more detail.

Hunting and fishing are pleasure activities. Both are activities where the individual involved gleans a measure of excitement and pleasure off killing. There are very few hunters left in the world that hunt purely for survival, and they are certainly not the hunters who may end up reading this post. Hunters throw in the out of date ‘conservation’ argument, the ‘I eat everything I shoot’ argument, the ‘at least I have the guts to kill my own food’, ‘I do it cause I love being close to nature’ blah blah. At the root of it all, is a pleasure based activity which involves suffering and death.

I have yet to see a hunter being dragged out on a weekend hunt with his/her mates crying out ‘oh I really wish I didn’t have to do this, but the lions of South Africa need me to pick off one of their family members for my wall’, ‘oh I really wish I did not have to spend large amounts of money on this expensive rifle – would have much rather given the money to my favourite charity!’.

http://africageographic.com/blog/happy-huntress-the-next-melissa-bachman/
http://africageographic.com/blog/happy-huntress-the-next-melissa-bachman/

Let’s stop pretending that hunting and fishing are anything other than a sport that comes at great cost to animal at the end of the barrel or line. There is no altruism in hunting/ fishing, for the most, it is an entirely selfish pursuit. What greater disrespect to another being on this planet than to take its life for fun.

Whenever and wherever animals are at the core of a large and lucrative business, there invariably becomes an animal rights and animal welfare infringement or multiple infringements. So when gambling, a highly addictive and very lucrative business for those at the top, is thrown in the mix, we start to get ‘animal welfare disaster’ industries popping up, such as horse racing, rodeo, cock fighting, and dog fighting.

http://www.wantchinatimes.com/news-subclass-cnt.aspx?id=20121018000004&cid=1103
http://www.wantchinatimes.com/news-subclass-cnt.aspx?id=20121018000004&cid=1103

Theme parks, petting zoos, circuses, snake milking, snake charming and zoos provide a central gathering place for people to have picnics, meet friends, and entertain themselves and their children off the suffering and incarceration of other species. Again, these are businesses that derive their income from the abuse of animals. Parents, have you ever considered what animals in a petting zoo are exposed to? These animals are handled throughout the day, with little time to eat, rest or groom, fundamental to the health and wellbeing of any creature. They are most often subjected to the inexpert and unsupervised mishandling by your children, leaving them bruised and often injured.

A popular party activity for kids in South Africa in the more affluent homes, is to hire a travelling petting farmyard to come to your home. The truck arrives with a calf, 2 lambs, some cute bunnies and a sheep or two. A temporary pen is set up in the garden to house the animals for the afternoon. The birthday girl or boy is then offered the treat of feeding the calf or one of the lambs with a bottle. These stressed out babies are further stressed through inexpert feeding, over petting, and constant handling. There is little time for rest for a working baby. The owner of one of these business proudly stated he can do up to 4 parties a day.

So 8 ½ years ago I hired a petting farmyard for my daughters second birthday. What a stressful party, mostly for the animals that were brought along, but also for me, as the jaw dropping horror of what these animals were going through dawned on me through the afternoon. I also realised that the young calf brought along was a one week old calf, victim of the horrific dairy industry. Calves are pulled from their mothers within the first 24 hours. They are either hand raised to go back into the dairy industry or raised till 18 weeks for veal. This baby had been pulled from his mother, put to work, and within a few weeks of him growing too big to be a safe and cute party calf, he would be sold for slaughter. The lambs where in a similar predicament. How else does one ensure that the stars of your show remain cute and cuddly indefinitely?

Bug boxes! What a silly idea for the unfortunate bugs that get crammed into a box to be observed and studied. Why can you not just observe the bug with your kids while it goes about its daily business? Most bugs live such short lives, and taking them out of their finely balanced daily routine geared for survival is just unnecessary, and cruel. And again, bug boxes are aimed at the younger consumer, who has limited co-ordination and who’s fine motor skills, not so great – which inevitably leads to the loss of a delicate wing, leg or both. Too often I have seen forgotten bug boxes thrown randomly into a toy box with an equally forgotten dead bug inside.

Using animals in ritual slaughter? Not ok. It is a purely selfish pursuit, and is a pleasure activity. It is not essential to our survival and often makes no sense. The Jewish ceremony Kapparot, is a case in point. Kapparot is an atonement ceremony, a time to cleanse the sins of the family. The ceremony is usually performed by swinging a live rooster or hen above the person who is being cleansed and then slaughtering the chicken who has taken on the sin, thereby removing sin from the sinner (?!). I have written often on the animal welfare transgressions inherent in the Kapparot ceremony. Again, we look at the selfish and self-serving nature of this ceremony, specifically when a cruelty free alternative is offered, which serves more than one person. Take money, put the sins of the family onto the money and give the money to someone in financial need.

posted on FB, Kapparot ceremony - photobomb with chicken. Pleasure activity?
posted on FB, Kapparot ceremony – photobomb with chicken. Pleasure activity?
posted on FB, Kapparot ceremony preparations. I find this pic particularly disturbing, and deeply disrespectful
posted on FB, Kapparot ceremony preparations. I find this pic particularly disturbing, and deeply disrespectful

I am not outlining the cruelty in every one of these industries, there is tons on-line that has been written about this before, and with more expertise than I give to it. There are numerous documented cases of animal cruelty to give us more than enough information to make an informed and cruelty free choice when choosing your next leisure activity (see our first deadly sin committed while living unconsciously on elephant interactions).

The fourth deadly sin committed while living unconsciously – buying down/ feather products

http://www.prettybabycostumes.com/pretty-baby-feather-fans.htm
http://www.prettybabycostumes.com/pretty-baby-feather-fans.htm

So our 4th deadly sin is buying

  • Down duvets
  • Down pillows
  • Down clothing
  • Feather trim
  • Feather boas
  • Feather angel wings
  • Feather accessories
  • Feather dusters

These items are not made from down or feathers collected in the malting season or a byproduct of meat production, as the industry would have you believe. This is a cruel and disgusting industry all on its own. Described below is an excerpt from Peta’s website on the harvesting of down.

‘The coldhearted and cruel down industry often plucks geese alive in order to get their down— the soft layer of feathers closest to a bird’s skin. These feathers are used to produce clothing and comforters, but for geese, the down industry’s methods are anything but comfortable.

Undercover video footage shows employees on goose farms pulling fistfuls of feathers out of live birds, often causing bloody wounds as the animals shriek in terror. The frightened animals are often squeezed upside down between workers’ knees during the painful procedure—in one instance, an investigator photographed a worker who was sitting on a goose’s neck in order to prevent her from escaping.

Live plucking causes birds considerable pain and distress. Once their feathers are ripped out, many of the birds, paralyzed with fear, are left with gaping wounds—some even die as a result of the procedure. Workers often sew the birds’ skin back together without using any anesthetics.

That’s not all—buying down can also support the cruelty of the foie gras and meat industries because many farmers who raise birds for food make an extra profit by selling their feathers as well. At the slaughterhouse, many of these birds are improperly stunned, which means that they are still conscious when their throats are cut and they are dumped into the scalding-hot water of the defeathering tank.’

The descriptor above is quoted from PETA – follow link for video footage http://www.peta.org/features/down-investigation/

http://www.thepetitionsite.com/883/993/634/hungary-stop-plucking-live-birds-for-their-feathers-for-down-products/
http://www.thepetitionsite.com/883/993/634/hungary-stop-plucking-live-birds-for-their-feathers-for-down-products/

This is the one area, you absolutely cannot justify supporting! We have advanced synthetics and cotton available to us that are hypo allergenic, cooler (or warmer if you prefer), and easy to wash, and in most cases, kinder on the wallet. Your genuine feather feather duster has an effective synthetic substitute. As for feathers as a fashion accessory (earrings, feather boa, feather trim, angel wings)? The market is flooded with fashion items at affordable prices. Feathers belong on live happy healthy birds, not on your body!

Don’t perpetuate this cruelty by buying feather and down products.

The third deadly committed while living unconsciously – breeding, and buying from breeders

end aug 2011 017For me, this is a blanket rule across the species (parrots, budgies, love birds, reptiles, tortoises, turtles, cats, bunnies, rodents, chickens, monkeys etc) , but let’s focus on dogs, as this is the area that most people will be able to relate to.

Breeders or puppy mills have become a big, cut throat business. Nobody breeds for any other reason than to make some cash off the selling of their dog’s children. Breeders will tell you it’s expensive to bring up puppies, and that they don’t really make much money. Ok, so they have chosen a crap business, but it is still a business, and in my research and experience, when animals are at the core of any ‘business’, there is bound to be a level of cruelty involved to a greater or lesser extent, (and a large mill does make money that is for sure).

Here is how the ASPCA describes a puppy mill ‘Bulldogs on sale! Yorkie puppies available here! Have you ever wondered where all these cheap puppies for sale in pet stores come from? The answer is that they are produced in factory-like environments known as “puppy mills.” Puppy mills are large-scale dog breeding operations where profit is given priority over the well-being of the dogs. Puppy mills treat dogs like products, not living beings, and usually house them in overcrowded and unsanitary conditions without adequate veterinary care, socialization, or even food and water.

The cute puppies for sale at your local mall were probably bred from dogs who don’t play outside or get groomed. Puppy mill dogs are typically kept in cages with wire flooring that injures their paws and legs—and cages can be stacked up in columns (which means waste falls on the dogs housed below them). Compromised health and conditions like matting, sores, mange, severe dental disease and abscesses are often widespread. Many puppy mill puppies are born with or develop overt physical problems that make them unsalable to pet stores—which means they end up abandoned or just left to die. Many sick puppies do manage to end up at pet stores, though, where the new puppy owner unknowingly purchases the sick dog.

Breeding dogs at the mills sometimes spend their entire lives outdoors, exposed to the elements—or crammed inside filthy structures. Female dogs usually have little to no recovery time between bearing litters. When, after a few years, the females can no longer reproduce or when their breed goes out of “style,” the dogs are often abandoned, shot, or sometimes starved until they eventually die.

– See more at: http://nopetstorepuppies.com/puppy-mills-are-cruel#sthash.pZfnhjul.dpuf

LCA describes the role of a brood bitch ‘Female dogs kept in puppy mills their entire lives are called “brood bitches.” They are typically undernourished and receive little veterinary care, in spite of being kept perpetually pregnant. Their puppies are frequently taken from them before being weaned. As a result, some puppies do not know how to eat and thus die of starvation. At approximately six or seven years of age, when they can no longer breed more puppies, “brood bitches” are killed’

Some of you reading this post will have collected your prize pooch from a home type breeding set up. The dogs may be better cared for, possibly even ‘loved’, but it is still a business, and it is the business of

  • Making money from the reproductive possibilities of a sentient being
  • Endorsing and orchestrating the rape of your bitch
  • Bringing more puppies into an already over loaded animal welfare system
  • Supporting an industry in which puppies (even at 8 or 10 weeks) are too young to leave their mothers, and their mother is still playing out her role. She is a puppy making machine, never really allowed to experience the full joy of motherhood

Allowing your dogs to have a litter of puppies is also a ‘no-no’ in our books. There are too many puppies available for adoption in shelters. Those puppies who don’t get adopted as cute and cuddlies, grow to be adult dogs, and each day that passes their chances of getting a forever home starts diminishing. Spend a day at a busy animal shelter and see the crisis created of managing large quantities of unwanted dogs with any kind of humane set up.

I am astounded when I visit an affluent home, and they either have allowed breeding, or have not neutered or spayed their animals.

So why buy a puppy from a breeder? These are some of the reasons I have heard sited,

  • ‘I just love daschunds, they are my favourite dogs’
  • ‘My kids really want a small puppy like Paris Hilton’
  • ‘You never know what you are getting from an animal shelter’ (I have heard this sentiment expressed about adoption of human babies too!)

And so it goes on ….. So, we have a daschund from an animal shelter, the last time I looked there were some teeny weeny dogs available for adoption, and you have absolutely no idea what you are getting when you buy from a pet shop or breeder. In fact, those pedigree breeds often display more physiological problems further down the line.

So what leaves a bad taste in my mouth on this particular subject?

  • Pets that have not been neutered or spayed
  • Buying from pet shops
  • Buying from breeders
  • Allowing your own dog/ dogs to breed

Visit a reputable animal shelter and let them assist you in finding the right dog for your home and your needs. Drop the aesthetic attachment to one particular breed and find your doggy soulmate. After all, your mum loved you regardless of how you looked and behaved when you came into this world!

The second deadly sin committed while living unconciously – letting off fireworks or supporting firework displays, it’s just not ok!

7bcf8c2f36704b30a08916cb930fb82a[1]Having just gone through New Year and seen the desperate posts of animal rightists and pet carers on social media, living out the New Year’s Eve hell with their pets, this particular ‘no-no’ is top of mind.

9033a782e5ed32b37d9612de1df9e1fa[1]I am fortunate to have 3 dogs that seem immune to loud bangs and noises, but in my parental home I watched my dad year after year – Diwali, New Years and Guy Fawkes – create a ‘cave’ under the dining room table for his Belgian shepherd. My dad and Beluga would hole themselves up for these events for the night/s. My dad cradling his shivering wild eyed dog, while she endured the war zone of bangs through the filter of strong tranquilizers. The tranquilizers left her groggy for days, the lack of sleep left everyone frazzled, and my parents never had the luxury of celebration of these commonplace events.

Each year pet shelters around the globe post gruesome pics of animals that have impaled themselves on gates and fences, burns from fireworks, glass cuts from jumping through windows, torn ears from squeezing through tiny gaps and broken limbs from frantic scrambling. To draw from an analogy used by Russell Brand, animals do not seem to be able to distinguish between the apocalypse and a firework display.

photo 2Those crazy Chinese lanterns seem to now be the sugar coated version for ‘concerned’ citizens – you know the ones that you light and let float up in the sky blazing with your good thoughts attached to them, in the hope that this will be the answer to your resolutions and prayers? Don’t kid yourself that you have taken a noble step against the use of fireworks just because you have eliminated the bangs. I watched a Chinese lantern float up in the sky one night, ignite a tree and disturb a whole flock of sleeping Egyptian geese who narrowly escaped being burned to death as they tumbled out of the tree in the dark, dazed and confused.

So why still support this hideous practice when you know the consequences? Because the lights are pretty? Because it’s got entertainment value and it doesn’t directly affect you? Because it supports your religious practices? Aren’t the guiding principles of religion supposed to support a good, kind, compassionate way to live your life?

Come on, there are so many other ways to entertain yourself that doesn’t involve misery to half our planet, get creative! This is really an area you wouldn’t have to sacrifice much to make the world a better place.

The first deadly sin committed while living unconciously – Elephant interactions

Danyas wedding 101

If you have any lack of clarity on this particular issue, here is your guiding principle – if you, as Joe Public, can interact directly with an elephant without barriers (that would be walk next to, touch, or ride) that elephant has been subdued and trained through hideous cruelty (lets add performing and working elephants to this list, including cute baby elephants massaging you on a beach in Thailand, or drawing pictures for you).

Talk to any elephant back safari operator in Africa, and they will tell you their facility is different

  • They love their elephants
  • They would never hurt their elephants – the training is done through positive re enforcement
  • The elephant handlers have a special bond with their elephants
  • They may even tell you that the elephants they use where born in captivity and therefore used to working with humans, as their mother is.

You are never going to get the truth out of these business owners because this is a lucrative business for them.

I happen to have had more than average exposure to this particular issue through Karen Trendler who has fought the good fight on behalf of trained elephants many times, and worked closely with a lucky few elephants for their release back into the wild.

Karen Trendler ask the question ‘What exactly does it take to make a large, highly intelligent and sensitive creature kneel down so a tourist can climb on its back?’

This excerpt was taken from an article by Karen Trendler, ‘In manuals and guidelines on the ‘art’ of elephant taming, techniques describe it as “dominance-based free contact” training. The only way free contact can be achieved is for the mahout to have total control over the elephant and demand absolute compliance. He does this through physical and psychological domination.

Dominance is achieved by negative reinforcement, punishment, force, pain, discipline and demanding that the elephant submit. Any momentary loss of control or focus by the mahout is potentially lethal.

Ropes and chains are used for prolonged restraint to instil compliance and ‘break’ the elephant. It may also be tied to the side of the boma for prolonged periods until it submits or has ‘learnt’. Chaining and restraining enables the handlers to enforce while the elephant is unable to move, reinforcing physical and psychological domination.

An elephant is taught to lie down on command by ropes tied to its legs, which are pulled, forcing it to lie down. This can be used a punishment and, eventually, as a way for tourists to have their photos taken patting it.

They are frequently forced to remain in a ‘sitting’ or kneeling position for long periods as a form of training, domination and punishment. This can result in serious and potentially fatal injuries to both limbs and internal organs.  Young elephants and calves are especially at risk because, being social animals, their need for social and tactile comfort gets them to bond more easily with the mahout.

The handler carries what is innocuously referred to as an elephant ‘guide’. It is more correctly known as a goad or bull hook, a metre-long spike with a curved hook on the side. The sharp tip is used for jabbing and prodding the elephant in sensitive areas and the hook is inserted under folds of skin for pulling or applying pressure. It can be reversed for beating as punishment. Elephants often have scarring, open wounds and bruises from this instrument. It has been banned in a number of countries.

Another instrument of persuasion is a prodder, which delivers a high voltage electric shock. The more wilful, stronger and more full of character the elephant is, the more it is subjected to domination and punishment. And if it snaps, it’s subjected to further and harsher punishment.

Many people will defend their elephant experiences with statements like: “I’ve ridden on elephants and they were happy elephants”, or  “I talked to the owner; he loves his elephants”. Nobody wants to believe they have paid towards an elephant being abused, beaten, restrained or dominated.

But these facts are not simply an attempt to sensationalise. They are the result of research into elephant-back tourism, testifying in cruelty cases, and fighting against cruelty as well as caring for, nursing and managing the rehabilitation of elephants which had been tamed, trained and broken’

To read the full article, go to http://www.dailymaverick.co.za/article/2014-09-17-op-ed-molewa-takes-aim-at-wild-elephants/#.VKTfKpAaLIU

No human leaves an elephant experience untouched, elephants are quite the most magical species, and the experience factor is very seductive – however, stop, think and put in place some measure of self-control. If you pay for any one of these experiences, you are condemning that elephant, and many more to come, to a life of misery, pain and torment. With this in mind, your desire to interact with elephant becomes an entirely selfish pursuit at great cost to our majestic cousins.

If you are interested in learning more about this cruelty, please watch or read

Nine Little Elephants https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LvRxl0h50jY

Heartbreakingly achingly beautiful video on two rescue elephants https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lF8em4uPdCg

Training a baby elephant for the circus https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eDMyEHY6ELs

The 7 Deadly sins committed while living unconsciously

I don’t always get it right, and, over the years, I have certainly supported practices, institutions and companies that have committed animal rights atrocities with little thought or consciousness on my side. How often I chose to disassociate or ignore what I knew to be true, owing to the inconvenience factor of changing my habits. I am not proud of this history, I wish I knew then, what I know now, and I could erase that from my past, but I cannot. And of course consciousness is ongoing. What will I know in 5 years’ time, that I haven’t realised today?

For many years I toyed and played with a vegetarian lifestyle, I had a strong opinion on the cruelty of zoo’s and hunting (sometimes while in habit of eating meat and/or wearing leather), I always stopped to help lost dogs, I wouldn’t consider wearing fur and I enjoyed the luxury of being exposed to South African wildlife through my sister who ran a Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre (this meant through exposure that I could talk with some knowledge on the inherent problems experienced in the Wildlife Industry in South Africa). I considered myself an ‘animal lover’ and a good person. I felt particularly virtuous when I happened to be going through a vegetarian phase! If I added a recycling program to my vegetarianism I could be nauseating when on the topic of ‘conscious’ living.

So what has changed for me? 7 years ago a friend introduced me to two movies ‘meet your meat’ and ‘earthlings’. I watched them on January 15th 2007. I cried the whole way through, I cried for days afterwards. I could not believe what was going on under our noses on a daily basis, and I could not believe what I had been supporting. I was instant Vegan. I couldn’t understand why if I gave people the gift of this info, as had been given to me, why there would not be an immediate uprising and our local Johannesburg abattoir closed down, with the rest to follow. The injustice was huge! Reality set in and I realised the fight was not as simple as presenting people with the truth. This being said, I am a committed fan of social media for one major reason, it has given an expedient global platform to educate and expose people on the atrocities being committed against animals and humans, and slowly the levels of consciousness are rising.

Soon after this I started our organisation Chickens as Pets not Food – Chicken Rescue and Rehabilitation South Africa, and my journey continued (https://www.facebook.com/pages/Chickens-as-pets-not-food-Chicken-Rescue-and-Rehabilitation/101165646600196) . Going Vegan has been my most important decision to date. Going Vegan felt like coming home. For the first time in my life I had felt as though I was really doing the right thing for me, for the world around me. It has, and continues to be, superbly challenging – no, finding food to eat is easy and my protein levels are perfect, that’s not the challenging part, it’s the ethical decisions I find myself faced with on a weekly basis. Once you go Vegan, you are rejecting a violent and oppressive ideology, and that forces a constant internal dialogue on every decision one makes. So please excuse my (and other vegans) indifference to unsophisticated arguments for eating meat that have little thought behind them. As a meat eater you don’t think about your choice, you are generally socialised into that choice. I have been there. I have lived both sides. Vegans live and breathe our choice not to cause harm, we have thought about this a lot! My eyes have been prized open and held there with matchsticks. There is no longer a lack of consciousness or a disassociation to hide behind, I have stripped away my ability to close my eyes. All at once the world becomes an excruciatingly painful place to live.

So why carry on? Why not exit this hell hole the human race has created? For me, as painful as it is to live here and bumble along in my human way, the heightened levels of consciousness have opened me up to a rich tapestry of emotion and experience. I feel so much more acutely, and that opens up the possibility of feeling both the pain and the joy, the opportunity of connecting with both humans and animals with delightful intensity. I never want to go back to living with that level of unconsciousness.

So, what are some base non negotiables? Some practices and institutions you could stop supporting today, right now and potentially increase the quality of life of thousands of animals around the globe, as well as put your stake in the sand on some controversial issues. This article is is titled ‘the 7 deadly sins of living unconsciously’.

For the next 7 days each post will highlight one of our chosen 7 deadly sins, an opportunity to live more consciously, if you are not already doing that, or if you want to move your journey forward. I am open to anyone adding to these, provided it is line with eliminating animal cruelty. I don’t want to hear from some smart ass how Vegans and animal rightist should be eliminated, how we have canines for a reason, that lions eat animals, how plants have feelings too, how you once knew a Vegan that died of cancer, or how this is being shoved down your throat ……….. I have had these conversations ad nauseum and I am not going back.

Re visit us tomorrow to read about our first deadly sin committed while living unconsciously.

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