I was driving down the highway somewhere outside of Toronto, overtaking a large freight truck, which from behind looked rather unremarkable. However, as I passed the cargo-loaded back end, I realized that the truck was filled with baby pigs. I could clearly see their little faces through the air holes in the metal wall, and there were even ears and snouts poking out, desperately sniffing the fresh air. I was so furious and upset, witnessing how cruelly restricted they were, and undoubtedly heading towards a slaughterhouse – if they would make it there alive.
Fortunately, three prominent Canadian animal welfare groups, Animal Alliance of Canada, the Canadian Coalition for Farm Animals (CCFA) and the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) are working to protect farm animals during transport, and they are championing MP Alexandra Mendès’ Private Members’ Bill seeking to improve farm animal transport regulations.
The existing transport regulations, part of the Health of Animals Act, state no limits on how long entire journeys must be, which means that animals are traveling by land, sea and air for days and even weeks. The intervals at which animals being transported must receive food, water and rest are far too long – with devastating consequences for the animals.
“People should be aware of what animals go through from farm to slaughter. It is inhumane to deprive an animal of food, water or rest for 81 hours and to subject them to such unhealthy and stressful conditions. Animals experience terror, pain and suffering. If the Minister of Agriculture can alleviate some of this suffering and make our food safer by reducing farm animal transport times, then this is something he should do. We are grateful to Mrs. Mendes for putting forward a bill that will protect both animals and Canadians.” Karen Levenson, Animal Alliance of Canada
My reasons for being a vegetarian have fluctuated over the past decade or so. I believe I took on the life choice for environmental reasons, then for my health, and I have recently discovered the joys of supporting the welfare of animals through my vegetarian diet, knowing that my choice will help spare the suffering of many lives. But this is not an article about vegetarianism.
My goal for this article was simply to plant a seed of awareness so that you can take action in your own way. I am not asking for you to make a major life change, as becoming a vegetarian is as such. But I am encouraging you to consider where your meat comes from, what it was fed, how it was raised, and brought to you. I realize that there is a great disconnect between the animal itself and the food on your plate, but bear in mind that every time you eat meat you are voting for, and supporting the kinds of conditions that that animal lived, good or bad. Choosing free-range meat that is raised organically is a good start towards standing up for animal rights, but choosing to cutback, or cut out meat consumption is of course, the strongest statement you can make.
After the pig truck experience, I went online to see how I could get involved. I was shocked to discover how many resources, support groups and advocates for animal rights specific to factory farming exist. After hours of research, I have narrowed the field down to what I believe are the most informative and useful links for you to visit!
– Website of The Animal Freedom Foundation: a portal for presenting articles and books about (the basics of) animal rights, healthy food in general and ways to end factory farming in particular.
– World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA): to build a global animal welfare movement.
– Here is a link to the compassionate shopping guide – it’s free! : http://www.ciwf.org.uk/resources/shopping_guide/download.aspx
– World Animal Net: The world’s largest database of animal protection societies, with over 16,000 listings and more than 10,000 links to Web Sites
Please have a look, sign a petition or two, or better yet, get involved! The last link is the best way to find animal welfare groups in your very own city. Thanks.
sources: Quebec MP’s bill to ease suffering on Canada’s highways (2009) viewed Nov. 1 2009 http://www.wspa.ca/latestnews/2009/quebec_mps_bill_to_ease_suffering_on_canadas_highways.aspx