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We have nobody to blame but ourselves

  • Published at 02:52 pm April 7th, 2020
Photo: Courtesy: Mushfiq Ahmed

This pandemic should make us re-evaluate the way we treat animals

Coronavirus is the direct result of the unfair and cruel way in which we treat animals. I am not a vegetarian or a vegan, and I cannot claim that amount of love for animals. 

But I honestly don’t think one has to be a vegetarian to realize that animals should be treated in a decent manner. Many animal lovers are in fact non-vegetarians simply because of our carnivorous need to consume meat.

Since coronavirus came from a wildlife market in China, the Chinese authorities are now investigating the market of wildlife trade. It may lead to revolutionary changes in the way that wild animals are treated. Coronavirus is single-handedly tanking the world economy, and causing many deaths around the world, but if something good could come out of all of this then it would be this.

We humans need to take a closer look at the way we treat animals, both wild and domesticated. People are complaining about being stuck at home while animals spend their whole lives like this or in worse conditions in zoos around the world. Now is the time to think about whether or not zoos violate animal rights. It should be a time to redefine the entire paradigm that we have towards animals.

If animals were able to work in a coordinated manner to exact revenge for the way they are treated, they wouldn’t have been able to do a better job than spreading coronavirus among us humans. We are still at the beginning of what will potentially be a tremendous blow to the human world. Things will get much worse before they get better. But when they get better, it is really important they get better for everyone and not just humans.

This war that we are waging against nature can be compared to the golden goose parable. Everyone knows the story of the golden goose that laid one gold egg every day for one lucky farmer until one day he became greedy and killed the goose, thinking that he will get all of the eggs from its belly at once without having to wait one whole day for each egg. By killing the goose, he cuts himself off from all future eggs. 

We have wants and we have needs that the natural world can provide for, given that we don’t kill the goose that lays the golden eggs. It is difficult to say what the future holds for us humans, given the pandemic. But whatever future we do have needs to be environmentally sustainable and kind towards animals.

There are a few things that we as consumers can do to make sure that animals are treated well in the future. The trade of wildlife should be banned completely. We should not partake in any kind of trade that involves wild animals or their extracts. 

At the same time, it is really important that we make sure that even if we continue to consume meat, the animals that we eat are treated well while they are alive. 

Bangladesh, in general, has a very negligent way of treating farm animals. We need better measures in place. Try to buy animal products that provide the five freedoms to animals. The five freedoms are:

• Freedom from hunger and thirst (water and nutritious food)

• Freedom from discomfort (shelter)

• Freedom from pain, injury, and disease (medical care)

• Freedom to express normal behavior (exercise)

• Freedom from fear and distress (showing them love and not killing one animal in front of another)

There are many ways in which we treat animals that are just wrong and need changing. Alternative zoos need to be designed, farm animals need to be treated better, and the trade of wildlife needs to stop altogether. 

These are achievable goals. The whole world becoming vegan is perhaps not, but a kinder world is definitely possible without dramatically altering the way in which we function. 

Proma Gulshan is a freelance write

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