Around 15 years ago I was walking past a popular eatery in my hometown of Derby (UK) when I came across a group of animal rights activists dressed as kangaroos, covered in fake blood and protesting loudly outside the entrance. I quickly cottoned on to the fact that the group of people must have been upset about the new kangaroo burger on the menu.
I remember my friend’s surprise that I didn’t want to join in the protest, outspoken as I was about animal rights.
To me it was obvious why I didn’t want to join in, but it took a little explaining to help my friend view it the same way.
You see, to the people of the UK the kangaroo is a beautiful, exotic, iconic creature. The National Animal of Australia! But to many Australians kangaroos are as common as seagulls in New Zealand and regarded in much the same way. In fact, kangaroos in Australia are culled and commonly used for pet food. But that’s beside the point.
The point is, that despite how appealing we find a particular species, most of us know deep down that all species have the same ability to suffer, so why not the same right to life? Why not protest the beef burger? Why was the life of a humble, bog standard cow less important to those people than the life of a kangaroo?
Another example would be dolphins. Who doesn’t love dolphins? Of course, harming millions of other forms of sea life is OK. But harm those gorgeous, smiling, intelligent dolphins? No way will we stand for that! (Apologies for my sarcasm)
What if Cecil the lion had been Cecil the cow?
Placing more importance on one species than another, to me, is no different to racism or sexism. Thinking a race, gender or species is superior is wrong. I don’t believe that the life of a kangaroo is worth more than the life of a cow, just as I don’t believe the life of a dog is worth more than the life of a pig, cow or chicken. I also don’t believe that men are superior to women (or vice versa) and so on….
It is no wonder we have grown into such hypocritical adults when you think of the conflicting messages our society sends to children.
“First we teach kids about how amazing animals are. Then we teach them to ignore all that and eat Nemo and Babe”
That Vegan Aussie Bloke
When we call ourselves ‘animal lovers’ do we mean some animals, or all animals? Is it a real love or a selfish, conditional kind of love?
Can we really call ourselves animal lovers while knowingly supporting cruelty towards some species?
Maybe it’s time for a new way of thinking. If you agree, try our 30-Day Go Veg Challenge!
Laura Gentle, National Volunteer Coordinator