Vegans often have to meet animals destined for the slaughterhouse while walking in the countryside - this can be heartbreaking.
Inevitably, vegans who live anywhere near the countryside are going to come into contact with animals destined for the slaughter house. Armed with this knowledge, how do we cope during a walk through the great outdoors?
Obviously, we’d prefer the cows, sheep and pigs we see to be safe in an animal sanctuary, or living naturally wild. All domesticated animals descended from wild animals at some point in the linage, but the Chillingham wild cattle in Northumberland are the last bastions of free cows in England. Totally untouched by man, these 90 odd animals are a stark reminder of how things should be.
As far as pigs go, wild boar have been successfully reintroduced to the Forest of Dean – so much so that they are now culled – and opposed by the Forest of Dean Wild Boar Cull Hunt Saboteurs. I doubt there are many vegans who would support killing animals for being successful, although I could be wrong. I guess if this were to be the case, a human cull would be on the cards very soon – I’m sure that would be quite controversial too!
Wild sheep and goats still roam free in the UK, but as with all wild animals, they are understandably weary of humans. Who can blame them, we kill and eat their mates, shoot fellow wild creatures and build houses or roads right through their homes. Homosapians are a selfish breed of creatures really.
There are also a number of wild chickens scratching a living around the British countryside, but these are thought to be relatives of escaped domestic birds. Sadly, if they do encroach on human habitations, people seem to complain about the noise they make. Animals don’t have the same redress when it comes to the disturbances humans create for them.
It has to be said, that it’s better to see farm animals wandering around fields than it is to observe them cramped together in vast concrete sheds. And, most vegans will go and say “hello” and stroke any animals they come across during their own wanderings – domesticated animals anyway, I don’t recommend stroking an adder! But the point is, it still makes us sad.
The phrase “friends not food” is a popular social media meme, and it sums up how we feel when we see a field of cows or sheep. You see, we have made the connection, we know what the future has in store for these gentle animals. In fact, their only reason for existence is to become meat, gelatine, leather and black pudding.
For exhausted dairy cattle, the future is just as bleak; it’s no better for pigs and sheep.
However, the meat, dairy and egg industries are so vast, that it’s impossible to avoid their victims when taking a stroll outside of a city. And most vegans do feel extremely sad to meet the victims of industries they campaign so passionately against – even for those who merely campaign through dietary choice. Yet, we are often torn, because it’s always a joy to spend time in the company of these fellow beings, and when we do spend time with them, we realise that they are all individuals with their own personalities – just like dogs and cats.
We know, for many, the countryside is a workshop, an office, a warehouse, or a factory, and that makes it all the more difficult for us to enjoy in many ways. But farmers grow vegetables and cereals too – many exclusively so, and we’d be pretty stuck without that side of the farming industry – but is little compensation for knowing what the future hold when looking a cow in the eyes. Because, being vegans, we quite like to connect with nature every now and then with a walk on the wild side.