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Abstain from meat... let’s go vegetarian! Printable Version PRINTABLE VERSION
by Mike, Uganda Jul 1, 2009
Animal Rights , Environment , Health   Opinions


Abstain from meat... let’s go vegetarian! (Face to Face: picture by Shiv Mogali)

“Animal what?” very many people in Kampala would ask if you put it to them that animals too have rights. “Which rights?” they would quip, but they would have their reasons: everyday, thousands of cattle, chicken, goats, pigs and other animals are sent for slaughter to satisfy people’s hunger for meat. I don’t hear anyone raising a voice because most people like the delicacy that meat is. Yet the highest form of abuse, be it towards humans or animals, is taking away their right to live.

When we talk about animal rights, one thing comes to mind. How many of us really think about animals, not merely as a source of food, but as members of the eco-community who deserve respect and decent treatment? Animals, like other non-human beings, rarely receive attention from people... even when they are facing extinction. Who cares when a species of insects is being wiped off the face of the earth?

In my country, Uganda, there is a plan to apply DDT to eliminate mosquitoes. As you all know, mosquitoes cause malaria, which is responsible for the largest number of deaths in most developing countries. This is a dilemma. But should they be protecting people, or biodiversity? That is the question.

Co-existence is what most people today, especially in developed countries, talk about. Yet, in Africa, we are far from being conscious that that the mosquitoes we are fighting against are also part of the eco-system that let us live a better life. However remote, the connection is still there.

It was only yesterday that someone told me that the US president, Barack Obama, was recently under fire for killing a fly during an interview with the press. I can’t blame him. Many of us don’t think other beings besides humans have the right of co-existence. We can enjoy space and treat everything else on the planet as humans. We think selfishly that it is ‘us’ who have the principal claim to the planet. Therein lies the problem. Unfortunately, perhaps, it belongs to all of us, living and non-living organisms alike.

This brings me to pets. Most people value animals, but only at the level of pets. People who love pets as their best friends will go all the way to defend their pets’ kind. If you called a demonstration to speak out on the killing of dogs in the city, I know many people would turn up in protest because dogs have a history of a relationship with man. But, honestly, who would turn up if the same was done for snakes?

As a kid, I had a cat for a pet. I loved my cat. I shared my meals with her. She was the first thing I thought about in the morning when I woke up. She was the first thing I thought about when I returned from school. Before I went to bed, I made sure she was fine.

One day, I returned from school. I looked for my cat. She was nowhere to be seen. It was a neighbor who delivered the sad news: she had been run over by a speeding car. The sight of the smashed cat is still alive in my memory to date. I never got a cat again because, to me, I buried a friend that day.

My obsession with the cat was, admittedly, an extreme case, but all animals, domestic or wild, should be considered as we plan for our economy. We should think about animals--not because the tourism board will report great monies in the budget, though that too is important--but because animals are co-tenants of this planet.

My heart returns to the brothers and sisters who enjoy the meat of various animals, whether it is beef like in most parts of the world, or snakes and dogs in the Far East. Animals look at us like we're terrorists. For us to take away their lives is the worst form of abuse imaginable to these sensitive beings, but this is a higher calling.

Sacrificing meat in the name of protecting animals’ rights is something very few people are willing to do. But it is a good cause. Vegetarians by choice the world over would agree: it is possible to let animals be, even if it means forsaking your health. I don’t want to delve into the disadvantages of eating meat or the pros of going vegetarian but the truth of the matter is that vegetarians stand to enjoy better health than their friends whose diets contain meat.

Here it is, then: let’s stop being violent to animals and go vegetarian.



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Mike Ssegawa
A Journalist with Daily Monitor, Uganda. I have a passion for development, especially for the youth.
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