Tomorrow we’ll be heading along to the annual WEEAC event at Ceres here in Melbourne. WEEAC stands for Worldwide Events to End Animal Cruelty with the aim of joining together people and organizations, to work united as one loud voice across the world, to raise awareness to those individuals who quietly have no idea the extent of the horrors animals suffer on a daily basis. In light of tomorrows event I thought I’d share with you just 5 of the most common ways (aside from the meat industry) in which animals are abused every day by big corporations and brands.
More than 100 million animals every year suffer and die in cruel chemical, drug, food and cosmetic tests, biology lessons, etc. Many animals are used for testing including cats, dogs, monkeys, fish, birds, pigs, and goats. Cosmetic testing is generally conducted on smaller animals such as rabbits, mice, rats and guinea pigs.
For medical experimentation animals can be burned, shocked, poisoned, isolated, starved, addicted to drugs, and brain-damaged.
Typically cosmetic testing on lab animals (rabbits, cats, dogs, mice, and other animals) will include;
– skin and eye irritation tests (where chemicals are rubbed onto the shaved skin or dripped into their eyes)
– repeated oral force-feeding studies (lasting weeks or months to look for signs of general illness or specific health issues, such as cancer or birth defects)
– “lethal dose” tests, in which animals are forced to swallow massive amounts of a test chemical to determine the dose that causes death.
This can cause extreme pain and suffering to the animal, on top of the stress, fear, anxiety and pain already caused to them from being shipped to the labs, the handling, and restraint of the animals prior to the tests.
Currently cosmetic animal testing is banned in the European Union, Norway, Israel and India. Unfortunately in Australia there are no current laws placed to ban animal testing. You’ll see some companies quote that they “do not conduct animal testing, unless required to by law”. What this means is that they are selling into the overseas markets, and if they can maximise their profits they don’t really care who gets hurt! China, by law, requires mandatory animal testing for ALL cosmetic products, so if a cosmetic company is selling into the Chinese market they will be testing their products on animals.
Many people understand animal cruelty involved in the meat and cosmetic industry, but fail to realise that an immeasurable amount of suffering goes into their leather shoes, wool scarf, angora sweater or fur-trimmed jacket. Sheep, cows, camels and reptiles are bred and slaughtered; foxes, mink and rabbits caged and killed, wild animals trapped and skinned, to provide materials for human clothing. Horrifying killing methods (such as electrocution and live skinning) are used to keep the animals fur/pelt/skin intact which obviously results in extreme suffering for the animals.
Commercial milk is produced by cows raised in intensive production systems. Some cows are housed indoors all year-round and lactating cows are often kept restrained in tie stalls or stanchions.The animals are often caged, fed grains instead of grass (that they cannot digest), and live their short lives in agony. Dairy cows are constantly impregnated to ensure a steady stream of milk.
Although they don’t reach maturity until they are about 4, dairy cows first give birth at approx 2 years old, and are generally bred again 60 days after. Dairy cows are sent to slaughter at around 5 years old, when they are no longer considered an asset to the company, or killed earlier due to reproductive problems or mastitis, though they have a natural life span of 20+ years.
Most dairy calves are removed from their mothers immediately after birth. The males (known as bobby calfs) are sold for veal, or castrated and raised for beef. The female calves are commonly subjected to tail docking, dehorning, and the removal of “extra” teats. Each year hundreds of thousands of these female calves die between 48 hours and 8 weeks of age, due to these practices.
There are two types of chickens that humans mass produce: laying hens (raised to lay eggs) and broilers (produced only for their flesh). 90% of the land animals killed each year for food are chickens, and it’s estimated the average Australian consumes 33kg of chicken meat, and over 200 eggs each per year.
Naturally laying hens would lay 20 eggs a year, but are now made to laying 320 eggs a year to keep up with this demand. These hens are kept either in cages, sheds or semi- outdoors (marketed as “free-range”). Their parents are kept indoors permanently, and their offspring are artificially hatched in industrial incubators. As male chicks cannot lay eggs, they are killed on the day they hatch (usually gassed or ground up alive). Laying hens are killed after 18months, though they have a natural lifespan of 8 to 10years.
Racing is a ‘sport’ which uses animals for our entertainment and pleasure, where horses are bred, trained and faced to perform against their will as a spectacle for humans.
Racing is extremely stressful for the horses, they do not race willingly, but are forced to by the jockey – many of which still use whips, sticks, or other objects to make them run faster. Once a horse is injured and can no longer race, it is generally sent to a premature death at a knackery or abattoir.
Every new year there are thousands of horses ‘leaving’ the industry (who failed to make the cut to be champions) to make way for the new geldings. They are seen as economic commodities, no longer profitable to their owners, with the vast majority sent to slaughter and used as pet food (or for human consumption in some countries) Approximately 2000 tonnes of horse meat is exported from Australia every year, and over 25,000 horses are killed in this way/year in Australia (ABS figures).
Jumps racing is one of the other fates for retired or failed racing horses, and statistics have shown that this is even more dangerous for the horses (than flat races), with up to 20 times more deaths on track.
What can you do? Boycott brands and events that continue to exploit animals for profits, and call/email/write to them to let them know why!
Oh hey there! I’m Hannah, an animal-loving vegan naturopath, based in Melbourne, Australia. I’m also the founder, director, and chief ‘boxer’ here at The Vegan Box.