Natasha Sainsbury is a graphic designer, animal activist, artist, painter, sculptor, and publisher of Animal Rights Graphics, a remarkable resource for the animal movement.
This article went viral when originally published on her website.
Ms. Sainsbury lives in the United Kingdom.
By Natasha Sainsbury
My life choices have not been entirely cruelty or consequence free. I am aiming for that outcome. To eliminate some choices in a world which is only beginning to wake up decades after the movement began, isn’t the easiest thing to do. We buy based on habit and what we’re told – however we think we don’t. We buy what we do because it’s packaged in an acceptable form and we ignore the reality of how it came to be. It is easy to pretend we’re not to blame.
Growing up, views and behaviours were never imposed on me, other than by my Irish Catholic Grandmother. I have always been shown both sides of the story. For example, my mother took me to the circus so I could see the animals, and then we went behind the facade. She never aired her personal views while we were there, and I never went back to the circus. It is true to say once you confront your ignorance and educate yourself, nothing looks the same. You find things less acceptable.
I find suffering unacceptable. Especially that which is unnecessary. That statement is inspired by viewing a video showing Halal slaughter today. You will see a still with this post. The visual gore of which, I’ll make palatable by not showing; presents an animal restrained, after having its throat slit, gripped in a vice which is raising its head back to drain the blood from its body. It is still fully conscious. Looking back at death which for what was to happen next, could not come soon enough, 1:06 minutes is where I paused the video because I couldn’t watch anymore. I could not look at eyes full of fear and confusion as blood spilled out of a living being and make sense of how this is considered by intelligent, moral, decent people, to be permissible without question.
It was the scene you are looking at now which drove home the reality again for me that we intentionally cause suffering if we choose to ignore it, and can do as a result of our choices. This may be Halal slaughter, but do not mistake the thought that any other version of slaughter we use is humane. By definition, it cannot be. You can not look at this image and tell me animals do not feel. They go no more quietly than we would if the roles were reversed.
I have held the hands and mopped the brows of people as they’ve died. Unpreventable deaths, natural deaths, and death which came too soon. I have seen people suffer unimaginable pain yet fight to their last breath to stay alive. And the same with animals. I have come to see that life is precious. All life is precious.
Vegetarians and vegans advocating non violence are branded as extreme by those who don’t want to be reminded of the reality of our choices. The truth is, many of us love dogs, and cats and consider ourselves animal people, who are outraged at the concept of Fido being killed in a slaughterhouse but sit down to eat some other poor soul.
Humans do not crave flesh. We do not salivate at the sight of a disemboweled carcass. We want it when we see it prepared and cooked and presented on our plates far from the uncomfortable knowledge of how it got there. But whether we like it or not, we are responsible for the suffering and death of billions of sentient beings, for our own desires and corporate greed.
It is a meat and dairy industry myth which has been fed to us, that we have to eat meat and drink milk to live and be healthy. So, we allow them to feed animals unnaturally, fill their bodies full of drugs which we then ingest, have females raped and mothers grieve as we’re lining up their babies at the slaughterhouse door. We did not create animals from thin air for our exploitation, nor were they created for us. They existed alongside us. We “evolved” alongside them.
We do not require meat in regular daily life and it is not an extravagance of “civilisation” to be able to have a meat free diet. In fact, some Amazon tribes without need or access to trade, live vegan lives, getting all of their required nutrition from plant based diets and rank amongst the healthiest people in the world. All nutritional needs can be taken care of from other sources, and the health benefits of not eating meat are widely promoted by healthcare professionals.
I apologise for the somewhat out of character outburst – for being less than sweetness and light, and I know you didn’t sign up to read this. The animals don’t sign up for exploitation, rape and slaughter – but it still happens.
I don’t care about animal rights because I like to go against the grain, because I think it’s trendy, or because I’m professing intellectual superiority. I care about animal rights, because I am an animal lover. Because I don’t believe in causing pain or suffering to any other beings. And because I can’t watch it happen anymore, and do nothing. Avoidable suffering disturbs me, and I’m not ashamed to admit it.