All this is 'normal'. Should it be?

by Arun Ravishankar


There’s a fundamental problem in the way we as a society conduct ourselves. There are many things we practice that, when viewed through an objective lens, are blatantly wrong. The problem is in the way we view these immoral happenings. When the morally wrong act is done over and over again, we teach ourselves to think that the action is normal, whether it is us who is performing the act or when we’re just observers.

Let’s step back a bit and try to describe what morality is. The way I understand it is the following: Any act that causes harm, be it physical or mental harm, to another being is an immoral act. It can be argued that a lot of the things we as humans do, is uncontrollably tied up with everything else in the world and we are bound to make immoral acts unknowingly even if not knowingly. There would certainly be actions that we do that negatively affect someone even though we did not intend it. Given this, I’d like to propose a slight modification to our definition of immoral acts — Any act we perform that causes harm, to the best of our knowledge, to another being is an immoral act.

This leads us to the following platform: in order to not perform immoral acts, we need to analyze the role our actions play in the world around us. This is a tough task. Keeping track of absolutely everything is very hard. But we can do the following to keep ourselves in check and to act morally wherever and whenever possible. We should be open to criticism and objectively analyze an argument about what our actions cause and strive to be a better person. Once we are exposed to the relationship between our actions and its consequences, if we realize that a particular action is immoral by the way I defined it above, we must actively stop acting that way.

Having set the stage, I’d like to put forth an argument about an immoral act that so many of us continue to do without questioning it. We have normalized these acts to such an extent that it never even occurs to us to think about the real consequences of these acts. The issue I’m talking about is animal agriculture.

Animals are being exploited by humans in ways that are unimaginable. Animals are sentient beings just like us and they have the same will to live and the capacity to feel love, fear and pain as we do. Stay with an animal for a few hours and you’ll easily understand that they have emotions just like us. Do they not deserve the respect we give to fellow human beings?

For fur, I won’t even try to describe how badly they are treated before they are killed because what’s done to them to obtain the fur is the most horrifying thing I have ever seen. They are made to hang from a hook and are skinned alive. After the ‘fur’ is obtained, these poor animals are thrown away to a corner left to suffer and die. They actually have to live for sometime without their skin. All this is ‘normal’. Should it be?

In the chicken/egg industry, hens are made to stay within cages that are literally their size. There is no possibility for them to stretch their wings, let alone move at all. These cages are placed one on top of another and all the droppings of the hens from the cages above fall on the hens below. The egg industry is even worse. These hens are genetically modified to make 250–350 eggs per year while in the wild they lay only 12–14 eggs a year. This is comparable to a female human being having a period every day in the year. Since male chicks aren’t ‘useful’ to the industry, they are all ground up (yes you read it right) into a paste and that goes to the market as pet food. Naturally, they live for 5–8 years and in the industry, they don’t live for more than 6 weeks. All this is ‘normal’. Should it be?

Pigs aren’t treated any better. They are also contained in crates that are barely their size and they can’t even turn. They are confined to a space equal to their size for almost all their lives. Piglets are castrated without any painkillers. Their tails are also plucked out without any painkillers. These pigs are artificially inseminated (raped!) multiple times in their lifetime and their piglets are separated from their mother within less than 10 days of their birth. Naturally, they live for 6–10 years while in the industry they are killed when they are about 6 months old. All this is ‘normal’. Should it be?

The cattle industry, in my opinion, is the absolute worst mainly because of dairy. What happens in dairy farms is worse than any of the slaughterhouses. Since cows can initiate milking only after a calf is born, these dairy cows are artificially impregnated (raped!) for upto 6 times in their life times. What’s worse is that calves are separated from their mothers within their first 24 hours. Can you even imagine how the cow would feel? The love a mother has for her child is the highest emotion anyone can ever feel and these cows have to go through this separation for 5–6 times in their lives, never to see their kids again. And this is all they are born for. After giving birth 6 times, the cow is deemed to be unfit to be impregnated again and since it would take resources to feed this cow, it would be more profitable to just send her to the slaughterhouse for meat. Many calves are killed within days of being born for veal. Not many people know this — there’s an enzyme called rennet that is extracted from the calve’s intestine which is used to make all the cheese that you have. Cows can live 18–25 years but in the industry, cows raised for meat are killed after 18 months while dairy cows are killed after 4–5 years. All this is ‘normal’. Should it be?

I’ve only barely touched upon the atrocities that happen to animals, but I hope I’ve driven home the point. Don’t we have the responsibility to make sure our actions don’t contribute in any way to all that’s happening to beings that want to live just like us? Is the momentary joy you get while eating something you like worth another being’s life? How would you feel if your pet dog or cat were treated like this? Would you be fine with it? Why is it that dogs are different from pigs and cows? Why do we feel bad when dogs are slaughtered for meat in the Yulin festival in China while we don’t bat an eyelid for the millions of animals that are tortured and killed everyday? That’s because All this is ‘normal’. Should it be?

Please, please, please try and think about the consequences of your actions. Don’t normalize anything. Don’t contribute to all these atrocious acts that are done to innocent beings. Stop consuming any product that comes from the exploitation of animals. You have the power to change the world around you. Do the right thing. Be the change you want to see.