Turn on your TV or read the news and you might occasionally see a light-hearted story about the lives of animals. Remember “the Animal Odd Couple” from 2009 in which an elephant and a dog became best friends? Or what about the story of the Echo Park, CA resident who befriended a goose? Stories like these warm our hearts and often encourage us to think a bit differently about the animals in our lives and even about the wildlife we admire from afar.
Unfortunately, it’s not as common that we’re offered insights into the inner lives of those animals we too often view as little more than breakfast, lunch or dinner. Animals killed for food, however, are individuals with personalities who, just like the dogs and cats with whom we share our homes, are capable of experiencing a full range of emotions, including joy, pain, and sadness. In addition to having complex emotional lives, there’s increasing recognition that these animals–chickens, pigs, cows and fish–are much smarter than we once thought.
Fortunately, two recent news stories highlight some of these very animals, encouraging us to re-think exactly what–and who–we’re eating. In one report featured in Science magazine, divers off of the coast in Australia documented, perhaps for the first time caught on camera, that wild fish use tools. And another interesting story in the Guardian explores the emotional lives of cows, concluding that bovines have best friends–and become stressed when separated.
Such stories offer unique opportunities to reach out to others encouraging them to discover the hidden lives of animals most of us know very little about and to empower them to express their compassion for all animals simply by leaving them off our plates.
We can also offer friends and relatives a wide variety of tools to get them started: request a free copy of our Vegetarian Starter Guide, Easy Vegan Recipes, and other literature to share with others. Or direct a friend to TryVeg.com to learn the whys and hows of vegetarian eating.
Hopefully, stories like these will continue to grab the attention of the media, and the public, offering even more opportunities to sway hearts and minds and make lasting changes for animals.