The other night I attended the Canberra viewing of Dominion; a feature-length documentary which is exposing the dark underbelly of modern animal agriculture through drones, hidden and handheld cameras.
It was two hours of being repeatedly punched in the face, and I can’t even begin to imagine how much courage it must’ve taken for those involved in producing this.
After the movie, I made my way to my car again and as I did a possum scurried past me and bounded up a tree.
In Buddhism, we have a practice that we call Equalizing and Exchanging Self with Others. I thought of what I’d just witnessed, sat in my car and cried.
I cried for the beautiful souls lost. Tossed away. Every one of these animals is unique, special and beautiful.
I honestly believe that I am no better or of more worth than any being on this planet. We are all equals.
The supermarket does a great job of distancing people from the harsh reality of eating an animal. It comes neatly packaged, you pop it in your trolley, take it to the cash register, take it home, put it in the fridge and come back to cook it for dinner. In that whole journey have you thought about the journey it’s been on before getting to your dinner plate?
‘No, sweetie it didn’t come from a moo cow’. I’ve heard someone say this to their child while handing them a plate of meat. That moo-cow was someone’s baby. That moo-cow had a life. Maybe little Timmy has compassion and doesn’t want to eat the moo-cow. The movie Babe came out in 1995. This film turned legions of people into vegetarians—including its star, James Cromwell—because who could “pig out” again after watching that cute little piglet charm Farmer Hoggett?
I came home and told my husband that I’d like him to watch the documentary. ‘What so you can scare me into becoming a vegetarian?’. I can’t make you do anything you don’t want to do, but I will use every tool in my belt to lift the curtain and show you what is happening in your backyard.
Commercialism has meant corners are cut to save money and people eager to make more of a profit don’t see animals as the sweet, kind and beautiful souls they are but for what they can use them for. A lot of the documentary showed monsters disguised as people who worked in their slaughterhouses. They would punch, mock, abuse the already scared animals. Most of them didn’t even know how to use the stun gun properly. Nothing is humane in these slaughterhouses. Why do you think they don’t have open days inviting you to see where your eggs come from. It’s because it’s appalling.
Can you believe that I’m related to one of these monsters? My sister works as a manager at a battery hen farm. She has paid off her house and could easily afford not to work, but every day she gets up early and heads to the shed of unhappiness and torture. My sister has a hands-on role, and I’ve heard first hand of how handlers are unnecessarily rough with the birds and quite often will break the hen’s legs as they toss them about. I haven’t spoken to my sister in six years but I imagine she is still proud of the work she does.
I’ve also heard people in the supermarket exclaiming that they only buy the RSPCA approved eggs, meat and so on because the animals had it easier. Animals ‘lucky’ enough to be free range go through the as appalling conditions. Think. You are all smart people. Think with compassion and understand that you are powerful enough to make a difference.