Defending the Kingdom | Issue 18

Defending the Kingdom | Issue 18

People protest pork pain pens

Last month the University of Otago’s Veganism and Animal Rights Society
hosted a screening of Earthlings, a 2005 film exploring shocking displays of speciesism in industries built on pets, food, clothing, entertainment and science. Standard practise exploits animals without regard for their wellbeing. Recently released videos show similarly horrific farming practises in New Zealand. The truth is that maximising profit comes before giving a shit about the imminently replaceable animals that people make money from.

However, outrage erupted over the footage of pork farms. The Labour, Green and Internet Mana Parties have all committed to eradicating factory farming by 2017, and on Saturday 26 July rallies for pigs were staged around the country with hundreds of people turning out in every major city to protest against factory farming.

These good folk are actively trying to change how animals are treated in New Zealand. There are many more who do not think the animals that wind up in food should be subjected to intensive farming. However, like buying clothing despite knowing it was probably made in a sweat shop, most of us turn a blind eye in our day-to-day lives when it comes to uniting our ethical beliefs with the reality of our choices.

It is not expensive, unenjoyable or difficult to avoid factory-farmed meat; or slave-made clothing, for that matter. Anyone can eat meat just once a week, or go vegetarian or vegan – if they can be bothered. It starts out as something you do because it’s “the right thing,” but over time becomes second nature, like wearing clean underwear. The strange thing is that so many people who know that the meat they eat is a result of incredible suffering in reality don’t think twice before buying a pack of sausages or ordering something because it has bacon.

The main reason used to justify eating meat is deliciousness. But equally delicious is living a life according to what you believe is right and wrong. Perhaps you don’t actually care that billions of animals suffer for human benefit, or you think there’s no point in changing your lifestyle if the suffering will continue regardless. But you wouldn’t want to witness first-hand a piglet having its tail hacked off with no anaesthetic, or a metal crate stuffed with hens too tightly packed to exhibit their most basic behaviours. These things happen daily, on a mass scale, to serve us food.

The fact that our most liberal parties have a target as far away as 2017 to rid New Zealand of these practises shows how big a U-turn needs to be made to fix the industry; you as an individual, just by eating more ethically, won’t cause the big shift that is required. However, at the very least you can eat the food on your plate knowing an animal did not suffer to produce it.
This article first appeared in Issue 18, 2014.
Posted 9:43pm Sunday 3rd August 2014 by Oska Rego.