This isn’t satire. That headline recently appeared on an animal shelter’s website. Does it sound crazy? Believe it or not, it’s the norm at animal shelters throughout the country. Do the people who attended this fundraiser know that steak comes from a cow? Have they ever seen an undercover video that illustrates the unwatchable abuse cows endure on factory farms? How can they not make the connection? Are they uninformed about the lives of these animals or do they simply not care? If they know the truth about factory farming, do they see the hypocrisy in criticizing people who abuse animals while paying people to abuse animals?
Thousands of dedicated activists work tirelessly, often as volunteers, to save dogs and cats. We applaud them for it. They care deeply about finding these animals safe homes. They walk dogs, donate food and other supplies, pay for surgeries, and raise awareness about adopting from shelters instead of buying from breeders and pet stores that order their dogs from puppy mills. I’ve seen firsthand for many years the work they do and the lives they save.
At the same time, vegans would be remiss if they did not encourage these activists to show compassion for all abused and neglected animals – not just the cats and dogs at their local shelter. It makes no sense to pay someone to confine, abuse, and kill a cow or pig in order to save a dog or cat.
People who work at these shelters should not eat animals and events to raise money to save animals should not serve the remains of abused animals. I’ve been told that people won’t attend vegan fundraisers. Once they taste vegan food, they will. Once they see the videos of abuse, they will. Once they realize the truth about factory farming, they will. The intent of this message is not to degrade the importance of the work people do at shelters but rather to suggest it doesn’t have to be done at the expense of other animals.
A cow is a pig is a chicken is a cat is a dog. They’re all sentient beings – they all feel pain, they all get scared, they all love their families, they all like to play, they all have the right to live their lives freely, and they all matter. We don’t need to exploit, wear, test on, or eat any of them to survive. Please consider speaking with your local animal shelter about hosting animal-friendly events that serve vegan food. At the very least, perhaps they can make veg options available as a start and encourage compassionate eating. Let’s use our voices to help every animal. Let’s respect and love every animal the same.
Andrew Kirschner, Ed.D., is a grassroots vegan animal rights activist. He writes a zero-profit blog, Kirschner’s Korner, to help raise awareness about issues affecting the global community to make the world a more humane place.