For the past few days, I’ve been immersed in an ocean of sadness, and have no idea how I’m going to emerge from this darkness. While it’s festive season all around here (in India), I’m engulfed in heartache.
Because I’ve seen. And, now I know. And, feel. It’s a shame I didn’t know until now. I didn’t know all my life what those innocent animals have gone through to have provided for my food, my desserts, my ice-creams, milk shakes. Or, for that leather bag I once owned (I have preferred cloth bags for many years now) and those footwear I wore.
What we see on our plates as meat or eggs or in that glass of white liquid called milk is far removed from what goes on behind in the industrial-scale animal farms (even in the so-called *”humane” farms) or in the slaughter houses. (*read – the myth of “humane” treatment). When we put that food (from animals) on our plates, we know it’s from an animal. But, that’s as far as we go in making the connection.
Why can’t we connect with their pain? Is it because we don’t have to slaughter the animals we eat? Somebody else does that. Or, because, we haven’t peeped into those ghastly arenas to see for ourselves what those animals go through? Because I didn’t deprive (physically drag away) the calf of her/his mother’s milk, I could merrily consume all that cow’s milk for curd and cheese and what not, until an year back? Because we don’t get to see the chickens crammed into cages the size of filing drawers, seven-ten per cage, living there for an year or more after which they’re routinely starved for two weeks to get them ready for another laying cycle? That egg on our plate doesn’t narrate the fate of the mother hen….
But, what if we knew? What if the walls of those slaughter houses were made of glass? What if pictures of the proceedings were published everyday in the newspaper as a routine news (and not like a once-a-blue-moon exposé). Could we still look at that plate of ‘food’ with the same set of eyes and heart?
Their suffering and trauma is beyond comprehension. This movie, named Earthlings, just laid it bare in front of my eyes. No anesthesia in this world could have lessened my heartache. I watched it in bits and pieces. Watched for two minutes, cried my heart out. Then, another minute or so…and pause. My heart pounding with pain and disgust. My heart screamed for them. The voiceless, who couldn’t plead for mercy.
And, I was just constantly asking myself, “why do humans have to do this, why, why…”
At the same time, I was feeling restless, almost like a mad person. I just wanted to get up, go out and tell the very next person I met, “hey, you don’t know. You don’t know what’s being done to them. If you would, you wouldn’t have the heart to eat them – the cows, the pigs, the chickens, the ducks, the sheep, the lambs. You wouldn’t want to consume that milk knowing that cow was literally abused, exploited and annihilated to her core – the core of her heart and body. Her motherhood was systematically sabotaged and snatched away leaving her and her calf/calves in jeopardy, not being able to see each other from birth. Till death.
Everything has seemed pointless since I’ve seen those merciless scenes. What are humans if not endowed with a conscience… Who are they if not with the power to bestow mercy upon the seemingly lesser mortals? Upon those beings who can feel love and pain and separation just as we do. Only, they cannot express – in words. They can only scream, but can’t plead to say, “Please stop, don’t treat me this way. It’s hurting. I don’t want to die. I’m in intense pain.” Or, that calf who is being dragged away from her/his mother can only scream out “mooooo” with wide, terror filled eyes. But, can’t call for mercy and say, “don’t take me away from my mamma. I’m scared. I’m hungry. I want my mother’s milk.”
But, I have a heart. Better still, a mother’s heart. I’ve got a child right now who’s less than four. And, she’s still nursing. She wouldn’t sleep anywhere else except snuggled right beside me. I cannot imagine a mother, any mother, being deprived of her motherhood. That cow, how she had screamed, and kicked and resisted fiercely when her calf was dragged away from her.
We all have hearts. And, souls. And, we feel. And, if we feel for our pets – our dogs and cats, why can’t we feel the same for cows, pigs, chickens, ducks? How can we remain untouched of their misery? A change of heart is possible. Is it not? A change of heart has the potential to change the world. It could have, if Hitler had sought refuge in the safe sanctuary of his heart.
And, now it’s like this for me – what can I do now that I know this.
Once you face tragedy, how do you carry on? You’ve got to embrace some light and some beauty. Because, if I don’t embrace that, I’ll never be able to breathe easy. I can’t pull myself out from the dark alleys of my heart…
After watching Earthlings, I’ve been beyond myself….
Peaceable Kingdom – the journey home
And then, I saw this movie. It melted my insides. I saw light. I felt pain, but also felt some peace. The stories of those beings – belonging to various species, including humans, have the potential to change this world. To bring justice. They’re already changing this world. They have changed my world – my heart and soul feels transformed, and I see a new me emerging as I feel healed – my aching heart.
Two animal rescuers, five farmers, and a cow named Snickers will make you laugh and cry, expand your consciousness, and challenge your ideas about who animals are. Open your eyes. Trust your heart. Take the journey.
Click on the pic above (or here) to watch the movie now. It’s free.
This movie will change your life forever. I can vouch for that.
Peaceable Kingdom: The Journey Home – is a story of transformation and healing. This award-winning documentary explores a crisis of conscience experienced by several farmers questioning their inherited way of life. Growing more and more connected to individual animals under their care, they struggle to do what is right, despite overwhelming social and economic pressure to follow tradition. The film also explores the dramatic animal rescue work of a newly-trained humane police officer whose desire to help animals in need puts her in conflict with unjust laws she is expected to enforce. With heartfelt interviews and rare footage demonstrating the emotional lives and family bonds of farm animals, this groundbreaking documentary challenges stereotypes about life on the farm, offering a new vision for how we might relate to our fellow animals.
There are moments of confessions, connection and conscience rekindled that will tear at your heart and make you see yourself and those animals (and the connection between the two of you) in a new light. There are dozens of moments in this movie at which you’ll want to pause, wipe your tears and ponder.
One such scene is this urgent need to rescue thousands of animals (one of the largest animal rescues in US history) from the destruction of a tornado, which brings out the best in a group of young activists.
That scene/story has been made into an extended short film. Watch it here or click the pic below.
Another beautiful, tender, life-affirming scene from the Peaceable Kingdom movie is a mother hen nurturing, teaching and loving her chic. When I watched this, I realized how much we truly have in common with our fellow animals, and how intelligent, aware, responsive and emotive they are.
Watch this delightful, loving scene of bonding and nurturing in the animal world – not any different from our own. (from the movie – Peaceable Kingdom).
Why We Went Vegan. And, how this journey is revealing a new realization every day.
We were vegetarians always. But, quit dairy nearly eight months back – primarily for health reasons. And, then slowly, as we dug deeper, more and more reasons got uncovered. The environmental havoc that raising animals for milk and meat is causing was impossible to believe. Worse than all the transportation of the world put together, worse than hazards of depleting fossil fuels and worse than our worst nightmares, animal agriculture has the potential to lead us to the end of this planet – single handedly. And, vice versa. Yes, we have a real chance to reverse global warming – if animal agriculture is stopped. Period. Don’t take my words for it, read up these peer reviewed research facts or watch this ground-breaking movie – Cowspiracy.
And, we have a golden chance to reverse all life-threatening, chronic illnesses (diabetes, thyroid, cancer even) if we convert to plant-based food. We don’t need animal protein (infact we don’t need a lot of protein to begin with) for supreme health. Watch ‘What The Health’ – the one movie you’ll ever need to watch to understand how a plant-based diet can heal you inside out, reverse all diseases and truly show you what age reversal means.
So, as we started digging deep, all these came up. And, we were astounded.
But, nothing prepared me to come to terms with the violence caused on food-animals (as they’re called). Unthinkable violence is part and parcel of raising animals for food (and other things – fur, leather, lab testings).
The animal farms/factories – no matter big or small, standard or ‘humane’ have cruelty, in the most crude form, at every stage of the process. Cage-free eggs? Nah…. that’s the biggest myth. And, you’ll know when you dig up further. For now, you may want to go through this presentation that debunks the myth behind ‘humane’ meat, dairy or eggs.
Those animals that are raised in large or small scale factory farms (or the so-called “humane” set-ups) where the young ones – the calves, the piglets, the chicks never ever get to see their mothers, where the mother cows are artificially impregnated time after time to get that never-ending supply of milk until the animal is utterly ‘spent’ – her udders bleeding and infected, barely able to stand on her four legs. They’re then transported, like garbage, piled on top of each other – without food or water – to slaughter houses or auctioned off for meat and leather.
I thought I was NOT contributing to animal cruelty because I was a vegetarian all my life. And then, the brutal reality dawned on me. The diary industry in India is the biggest contributor to the meat industry – worldwide! When those milch animals are finished and done (in *less than 1/4th of their normal/natural lifespan), they’re discarded and given away to the slaughter houses. *milking them day and night and impregnating them continuously reduces their lifespan drastically. India is primarily a vegetarian country but is the largest beef exporter. Thanks to the dairy industry.
Leather! How we use it without a thought. Would we, if we knew that the cow after being wasted away in mere four years (she could have lived for 20 years) would not be spared till her last breath and last drop of blood? There she’s chained on one leg and risen upside down for the neck to be slit open as the blood gushes out, her eyes bulging out in horror and pain but unable to even scream, even as she’s fully conscious. The last rite at the service of humans – her skin becomes leather. Similar fate awaits the fur animals that are skinned alive after spending months in captivity in horrid, unnatural circumstances – quite unlike the wild where they belong. And, the animals in bio-medical research or entertainment industry are no less abused.
Those animals that humans consume and use – for food, clothing (fur fashion), accessories (leather) and petty entertainment (circus, game) – they have earned a place to live on this planet with dignity and peace.
For, they exist, just as humans do, for their own reasons and interests. As the Greek poet, Horace wrote, “Change only the name, this story is about you.”
P.S. If you’re with me until now, I reckon you’re feeling moved. Feeling bewildered. Or, angry. Or, curious. But, something may have shifted inside you? If so, I’d like to share another life-transforming movie, a movie about another change of heart that will tug at your heart, that will make you question your perceptions – about animals. This movie – The Witness. Watch it. If nothing else, you’ll come back with hope for this humanity.
More articles in this series:
- How My Unschooled Kids Are Navigating Their Food Journey
- Live Effortlessly Healthy: Make Alkalizing Foods a Way Of Life
- A New Chapter in Our Unschooling Journey: Our Health and the Food We Eat
- Why No Cow Milk for Us: Unraveling the Truth One Disease at a Time
- How to Make Coconut Milk: An Exquisite Dairy-free Alternative
- A Vegan Platter for Ganesha, A Movie and Some Food Musings
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