Philip Lymbery | The Magic of Loving Animals
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The Magic of Loving Animals

Image Credit: Richard Dunwoody / Compassion In World Farming

For many of us, the love for animals or the friendship of a pet in the home is a hugely rewarding experience. A bonding that for many, represents unconditional love.

Animals have extraordinary healing powers. A comfort during difficult times and companionship through life. I experience it with my own rescue dog Duke, who is very much part of our family and unwavering in his affection and loyalty. There is not a day that goes by, when he doesn’t make us smile.

I firmly believe that there is magic in loving animals.

But loving animals can be polarising for some. An emotion that only applies to some animal species like family pets or an emotion that can be locked away or absent depending upon a personal need, a lifestyle, a sport or a business.

Image Credit: Edi_Eco

In a recent blog ‘If Pigs Were Pets’, I explored how many animal lovers pause to think of the life of the sentient being behind their bacon sandwich, sausage, steak or burger. Why this disconnect with the life of the sentient animals who provide our food? How can we react strongly to cruelty to our companion animals, yet seemingly turn a blind eye to the intolerable suffering of factory farmed animals?

The problem is cognitive dissonance and, tragically, the issue is society-wide.

As we approach a hugely challenging time on this Earth for all species, I am resolved to do everything in my power to help end the greatest animal cruelty of them all – the factory farming of animals.

We currently face a situation where worldwide governments warn of a food crisis; that to feed the world, they say we need to produce 70% more food on less land or face starvation. Almost daily, we hear new ideas about ‘feeding the world’. Solutions range from increased industrialisation with all the planetary impact and farm animal welfare issues that entails, to bizarre technological breakthroughs.

However, a decent future for our children tomorrow relies on us putting away the rhetoric of ‘feeding the world’ and all that lies behind it. We need to start a big conversation today about longstanding taboos, those elephants in the room around population pressure and the need to respect and consider the lives of all animals and our natural world. To embrace a new, nature friendly food system and to eat less meat, dairy and eggs, produced to a higher welfare standard, turning our backs on industrially farmed produce.

The first thing we need to do, is to stop squandering nearly half of the world’s crop harvest on the damaging and deeply cruel practice of factory farming. We already produce twice as much as we need. 40% of our global harvest of cereal and soya is fed to factory farmed animals, thereby wastefully squandering enough food to feed an extra four billion people on the planet. After all, farm animals return but a fraction of the food value of the crops they consume in both calories and protein. Most of it, wasted in conversion to meat, milk and eggs. That isn’t to say that we should only eat cereal grains; land growing animal feed should be repurposed to provide a wide range of nutritious plant-foods in a way that is much more efficient than producing factory farmed meat.

So it’s not about getting the production wheel to spin faster. Because that will just cause faster resource depletion; of wildlife, water and soil – but about producing food differently. In ways that truly work with nature. That utilise natural grasslands for free ranging animals. Where farm animals are restored to mixed farms within pasture rotations. Where there are far fewer farm animals, all of whom are treated with compassion, dignity and respect. A far cry from where we are now where the vast majority are factory farmed, locked inside, never to see the light of day

Image Credit: Richard Dunwoody / Compassion In World Farming

When all is said and done, what we need is a long-term approach that nourishes people in a way that ends farm animal cruelty and allows nature to thrive.

So this St Valentine’s Day, let’s really think about the sentient life behind the packaging of our meat, dairy and eggs.

Let’s remember the unconditional love and strong bond we feel for our companion pets when we make our lifestyle and food choices and always avoid the so called ‘cheap’ but cruelly intensive, factory farmed foods.

We all remember the special place farm yard animals had in our hearts as children, so let’s ensure we never forget that love and help bring an end to factory farming – the greatest abuse of animals on the planet.