Shouldn’t we cancel Christmas? – Atmosphere


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Christmas dinner

© cc photo: Terri Cnudde

Christmas is almost here and I’m wondering: Shouldn’t we get rid of all things Christmas altogether? After all, there is no question of a peace festival with all those suffering animals being tormented at the Christmas table. There is war everywhere and the heinous crimes in our country are silent. Most people know well, but keep going only for the money and the fun. Pure selfishness. For the sake of the animals, for the sake of the climate, for everyone, we better stop this cruel party.

When war broke out in Ukraine, I and other animal lovers stood in front of the House of Representatives building to protest the mass killing of animals due to bird flu. In that time, nearly two million chickens have been gassed, many of them preventively. The press thought other things were more important. They thought two million animals exposed to the gas was very small news. Meanwhile, more than 6 million laying hens, chicks, ducks and turkeys have ended up with painful suffocation. And suddenly the NVWA stopped using protective gases for some time. Not from a moral point of view but because we are out of gas….

For most of the animals in our country, it is always war. They are imprisoned in degrading conditions, female animals are often forcibly impregnated, and their precious young are taken away, fattened and brutally transported to the slaughterhouse where they die in fear and anguish.

At first, the nitrogen crisis was still hopeful for many animals. But that hope was soon lost when all of the aggrieved ranchers were given the role of victim in the media. Hardly anyone who has advocated for animals has heard of the real victims. I haven’t heard a journalist ask, “But wouldn’t it be better for the animals to stop immediately?” And you say you love your animals that way, but what does that have to do with how you house, treat, and allow them? Our climate to hell as a result and there is no future for our children?”

Then a remix came along to calm things down and the angry growers got in over their heads. Remkes asked us if we, as representatives of the main characters, the animals, could sit at the table as well. We got the short answer: There was no time for that. The heroes of the nitrogen crisis, the real victims, have been silent in both politics and the media.

In addition to the year of war and nitrogen, this year was also the year of trespassing behaviour. Personally, I think it’s great that so much attention has been paid to this. I always thought Matthijs van Nieuwkerk was borderline transverse when I saw him lick his beard and drool at the cooks who served him foie gras or some other filthy animal to suffer on his show. And of course Jeroen Rittbergen had to stop his inappropriate sexual remarks towards women. But let all the Dutch who still eat animals see how they do it themselves across the border. Because how animals are treated in the animal industry also crosses borders. In the case of transgressive behaviour, one person causes harm to another on a physical, mental or emotional level. All of this applies to the more than 600 million animals that we kill each year. If you eat meat, eggs and dairy you are engaging in this transnational behavior.

While the biggest crimes against other animals happen here in our country on a very large scale, ranchers and politicians still dare say we are on the cutting edge of animal welfare. How dare they compare one hell to another and brag about it? Undercover film photos taken by organizations like Ongehoord, Varkens in Nood, and Animal Rights show a very different picture, but are dismissed as accidents. But they are not accidents. Animals are not crazy. They do not voluntarily go to the slaughter. Fear makes them unwilling. By kicking, whacking, and electric bolts, she ensures that the animals go faster in the direction they themselves don’t want.

Behind the scenes, we animal interest organizations are doing our best to bring this matter to attention. But it is rarely paid attention to. The media is not very critical when it comes to animal suffering. Caroline van der Plas got a platform last year that the Animal Party has never had in this way. Cultivators were constantly given a mouthpiece with almost no criticism. But the animals don’t get any sound. Even in the cultivators’ acts of intimidation, it was always said that they understood anger. But there is no sympathy whatsoever for the justified anger we feel about what happens to animals and our own peaceful actions. Executioners get pats on our heads and we call ourselves extreme animal terrorists. I don’t need that sympathy either. I want animals to have this compassion!

On the TV program “This Is the Problem,” which was about the different way we treat dogs, cats, and animals in farming, I saw a pig farmer in his stable. Piglets for slaughter were crammed together in bare concrete filthy chambers and pregnant piglets were clamped between two bars. The reporter asked the pig farmer if he was not developing an emotional relationship with his pigs. The story that came next symbolizes the method of raising animals used by farmers. The farmer said that a while ago one of his sows was not allowed to be slaughtered because she was lame. So he paid her every day to get her upright again. The pig farmer was really touched when he told the reporter that after a month of putting so much effort into this, the cows were still too lame to be slaughtered. A sign of the love that farmers say about their love for animals. They only see the animal as a product on which they can make money. Farmers don’t love their animals, they love the money they bring in.

How cruel would it be for you as a human being to soberly continue to treat animals unbecomingly and continue to eat meat and dairy when it has long been clear that we are not only torturing and killing animals, but also destroying our climate? What kind of government do we have that, instead of interfering, does everything it can to maintain this cruel system of animal exploitation? Why are ranchers patted on the head and pitied and their victims silenced?

When I was a little girl I still believed in a just world. That’s how I learned. Until I saw a movie when I was 11 years old in which a cow was slaughtered. I thought that was so cruel and unfair that I stopped eating meat. And when I later realized the suffering behind dairy and eggs, I stopped doing that, too. It hurts to live in a world where most of your family don’t care because it causes so much unnecessary suffering to animals. It hurts to realize over and over again that this suffering is seen as insignificant. Which I find incomprehensible, because a cow, or a calf, or a chicken, or a pig, or a turkey, or a duck, or a rabbit in industry can suffer like a human child in a war zone. Why do we realize this with our cat and dog and stay silent? This is not the world I want to live in. That’s why there’s only one thing to do: Keep standing up, no matter how frustrated I get sometimes, for animal rights. And fortunately, there are also those little moments of happiness, when I see how intensely animals rescued from industry with our help enjoy their freedom. This helps keep going.

Sandra van de Weerd, Founder of the Emergency Relief Committee for Animals and co-organizer of the Peace Service for Animals which will be taking place tonight at 7.30pm in Nasukerk, Amsterdam. Also available at home via:

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