Animal Rights

By Jo, 15 of Rutland, E Midlands

Recently, coverage of the barbaric Yulin dog meat festival has been hitting our papers and our television screens, after the slaughter of 10,000 cats and dogs still took place despite Chinese government promises to ban it. Based on a tradition to “ward off the heat of the summer months” (BBC) at the summer solstice, this cultural norm has gone on for many years. Yet now people are saying that enough is enough and this has sparked an interesting debate – how can people condemn it and fight against it, when they hypocritically eat meat themselves?

The big issue behind this topic is the way in which animals are depicted in our society. Domesticated pets are ‘cute’ and ‘cuddly’, creatures that are brought into our homes to be cherished, not eaten. On the other hand, farm-yard animals – pigs, cows, sheep, chicken – are viewed as walking meals, and many fail to see how the ‘crispy wings’ on their plates were once sensitive, living beings, just as much as hamsters or ponies. This desensitisation is a by-product of commercial fast food; the more demand that builds for instant, processed meat, the more this diet becomes second-nature and therefore causes consumers to lose touch with the real source of their food. What some fail to remember is that they’re eating an animal that one functioned as fully as a human being; the only difference is, a human can detach themselves from the reality of their actions.

Buzzfeed videos made a small documentary on February 1st 2015, in which average people went to a farm and got to slaughter their own meal. The most interesting comment was by one of the men, who was covering up the scene of a chicken twitching after having its throat cut. He noted that his response to what he’d just done was to “numb myself emotionally”. The word “numb” is particularly insightful into how the mass-market reacts to buying meat in today’s world – they simply try and forget about where the food came from. This is a troublesome problem, because it creates a culture where meat is taken for granted and, in turn, the meal is no longer appreciated as the life of another – it is merely a given, a variable in life that will always be there. Not only is this callous considering how little others in the world get to eat, but it is too dismissive for something that results in so many deaths; it can’t be ignored just because it isn’t a human’s life.

So can people who enjoy their hamburgers or their regular Sunday roast, really criticise the mass murder of these pets? Certainly, it is a horrific act which should be completely eradicated due to its cruel and savage nature, and the fact that it is not only unnecessary but often dangerous (many can receive rabies as a result of eating the dogs). However, when the ‘everyday’ person is accustomed to buying and fuelling the market which is responsible for producing and killing ludicrous amounts of animals, their argument is technically, regretfully, invalid. I do not claim that everyone against it is a meat-loving carnivore, but for those who are, some complaints can be viewed as hypocritical.

Overall, we, as a society, need to draw attention to all aspects of animal cruelty, not just the subjects that will gain favour from those who sympathise for the ‘adorable’ beings presented to us. Instead, we should generate as much media as we did for the Yulin festival for other causes, to bring an end to all aspects of human manipulation of animals.