Avid and even occasional readers of this column know I have three dogs and consider them part of the family, rather that labeling them ‘pets’. I probably talk and discuss world situations with them as much as with Wife Patti, but get better responses from...
Anyway, did you ever imagine/remember as a kid, going to the circus and being amazed by the lion tamer, whip and gun in hand, making the beasts jump through hoops of fire and leaping great distances, all with a bit of displeasure as growls emerged? How about the elephant parade, each holding the leader’s tail, surrounding the ring?
Yes, that was before a social consciousness and video of how animals were taught, their wretched caged lives when out of sight, their entire existence out of natural settings.
Cows, chickens and pigs each contributed to the dinner table without a thought, until video emerged showing their lives from beginning to end, housed in closed quarters, mistreated, fed antibiotics, hormones.
The monkeys were cute, mischievous, almost human creatures, until video caught caged critters, some with angry dispositions ripping a visitor’s face off.
Companies used animals to ensure that latest skin care product didn’t make your hair fall out and face turn green.
Meanwhile, animal rights groups howled about abuses and science discovered animals, like humans, feel pain, loss and love.
Zoos projected quasi-natural settings, but far short from a happy existence for those behind the walls, glass and structures preventing them from animal freedom.
States began passing laws prohibiting declawing of cats as a being a cruel condition of ownership and suddenly people rethought felines in the home.
Eventually, the people/public became aware of the problem and actually put themselves in the animal’s minds and didn’t like what they were seeing.
Circuses no longer provided ‘oohs and ahhs’, but rather scorn at the conditions and treatment under the banner of human entertainment.
Zoos became more conscious of animal settings/ breeding and made drastic changes in exhibits and policies.
In short, we, the supposed masters, became more socially conscious of other living species on this planet.
Vegetarian alternatives became commonplace and, over the decades, any kind of animal abuse became front page news. We looked at dolphins, whales and even the deadliest shark in a different light.
Nations began banning circuses and private ownership of some species. Animals began to have ‘rights’ as human consciousness grew.
Remember greyhound races in Florida and many counties around the world? It was/is a competitive sport involving the dog breed to race, chasing a fake rabbit.
The problem surfaced that the dogs were euthanized for losing, their usefulness at an end.The sport disappeared as Florida dog racing tracks found it problematic to the bottom line and public outcries.
English fox hunts were all the rage in the upper crust of society until the public realized it ended in the tearing apart of a helpless fox by dozens of specially trained dogs.
Horse racing, known as the sport of kings, became a betters choice, but again it lead to multiple injuries for all too often drugged horses, or an unenviable end of life for those who slowed down.
Soon, race horsing became a loser with fans and casino type gambling added to save the business plan. Even off-track betting became passé as people began to rethink horse racing overall as the older generations of horse gamblers faded.
We are becoming aware, rethinking who we are and our place on this planet as an animal.
So, what about animals as food?
We have seen the numbers and possible impact of animals on the planet and economies of the world.
Meanwhile we found disgusting and barbaric that some eastern nations allowed the consumption of dogs and cats. Japanese delights of dolphins, whale meats and shark fin soup garnered ire.
Of course, other nations’ religious beliefs threw out consumption of either pigs, or cows, as immoral. Imagine the day will come when we no longer consider veal as a delicacy, thinking it came from a baby cow that was somehow cheated from any real life.
Alternative, plant based products began to emerge as protein substitutes.
Some companies began to boast about their plant-based products tasting pretty close to the real thing. This would not exist if we did not find it plausible as a future product on grocery shelves in the near future. But where is it going? You can’t have plants that taste like meat without... chemicals.
I also realize I am not a vegetarian, or a vegan, but still wonder when cooking that steak, how the animal that gave its life really lived, or died. Less red meat? More plant based meals?
I am sorry to all the meat eaters if you, like me, still enjoy a juicy burger grilled to perfection. Like it or not, we’ve all got a lot in common with pigs. We’re omnivorous mammals that gain weight easily and are susceptible to the flu for starters. I like ham sandwiches, but it really didn’t help when they came out with the statistic that pigs share 98% of their genes with humans. That is misleading since the amount of genetic material with other species depends upon what you compare. Don’t even get me started on chimpanzees and gorillas.
As humans, we progressed, and advanced civilizations, due to our intake of animal protein. Change is difficult, if not impossible after thousands of years as hunters and shoppers.
Grazing over the coolers of meat often makes choices choice for the perusers of beef, pork, chicken and assorted cuts.
I realize that how we feel about other creatures is changing and I just want you to think. We are undergoing a drastic change and it may have gone unnoticed by many of us.
My dogs are my friends and I rue the day when they must leave this earth.