Recently in the Green Bay area, animal welfare activists have begun releasing footage of alleged abuse toward animals. Two examples have drawn regional and national attention.
Pig rasslin: http://www.greenbaypressgazette.com/videos/news/local/2014/08/14/14056609/
Cattle kicking: http://m.huffpost.com/us/entry/4419995/
Somewhere, we have a huge empathy gap when it comes to animals. Even self-aware mammals are not immune to torture and confinement by our hands. The only explanation for this is that we have either shut off our empathetic side, or we have never developed it in the first place.
I want to teach my boys that the terms “animal abuse,” “animal rights,” “compassion,” and the like are all subjective ideas, but that they all reach toward the same purpose. This purpose involves not only recognizing animals as individuals, rather than bio machines, but also reducing our reliance on animals for food, research, and entertainment. I believe we can and should extend human compassion to all sentient beings.
Animal companionship is much more compassionate than circuses, rodeos, and other forms of animal-based entertainment. I wouldn’t want my dogs or cats have to deal with the stressful life of an entertainment animal.
For humans whose health relies on animal products, we can be strict about making choices to purchase products only from animals that were raised humanely (btw, this would eliminate pretty much any animal product available in a standard grocery or restaurant.)
As we become more technologically advanced, animal research can become a thing of the past. We’ve seen actual legal movement in the USA protecting our close cousins, the chimpanzees. An easy step in the marketplace is to only purchase certified cruelty-free cosmetics.
I want my sons to understand that animal welfare is within their hands. It’s not an ethereal concept, or an unattainable, lofty goal in our daily lives. They don’t even need to be vegan or vegetarian to practice it, although that’s the path I’ve chosen. Extending that circle of compassion may lead to more heartache, but it will also lead to more strength and integrity. Maybe an extended circle of compassion will even lead to fewer cynical People Eating Tasty Animal jokes and goofy “but what about bacon!?” questions.