Last night, I saw an incredible movie that got me really thinking about how easily most of us accept animal cruelty without questioning it, and the dangers of thinking that way.
The movie, Amazing Grace, tells the story of William Wilberforce, a British politician from the 18th and 19th centuries who worked all his life to abolish slavery in his country. Incidentally, he was also one of the founders of the Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
There are some really moving scenes that describe how Africans were kidnapped from their homes and then sent halfway across the world, packed tight into ships where they were forced to live in their own filth, and usually without adequate food, for weeks. Those who got sick were simply cast off the ship and into the sea.
To those of us who fight animal cruelty, all this has an eerily familiar ring. Now, it is the turn of helpless animals to be enslaved and slaughtered even when they have never done anything to hurt us. We know about the billions of animals and birds raised for factory farms: hens who never get to flap a wing or see the sky before they are slaughtered; pigs who spend their short lives standing in crates where they cannot even turn around; cattle who are castrated and branded without any pain relief; calves who are separated from their mothers at birth and slaughtered.
And still, every day, I encounter smart, decent people who simply won't make that connection between the pain inflicted on sentient animals and the food on their plates.
I like to tell friends that 100 years from now, people will look back and say in surprise, "Can you imagine we ate animals back then?" But the truth is, 100 years is too late. Each day that goes by means millions more animals will suffer silently because most people choose to ignore the fact that behind every chicken nugget and T-bone steak lies an enormous tale of pain and suffering.
And how can food that comes from such misery be any good?