Amnesia of Animal Eaters

Some time ago, a man in the US was sentenced to 6 months in jail for tying his dog to his car and dragging him to death. The dog had ‘barked too much’ which made his owner furious. Neighbours chased the man. They were rightly upset by his cruel act and, except for some perverse and pathological misfits, every human being who deserves this label will surely condemn brutal treatment of animals.

This new item, however, reminded me of a German saying, which means: “What I don’t know does not agitate me.” In all likelihood, the neighbours of that American are meat eaters. Are they aware of the heart-breaking life and finally slaughter of all those chicken, cows, pigs, sheep or goats in the so called meat industry? Probably they vaguely are, yet somehow it does not get at them. It seems one needs to be personally involved with one chicken or one cow, see the suffering, look into her anguished eyes, to realise the cruelty and resolve not to partake in it anymore.

It happened to a young German couple who had been on a camel safari in Rajasthan. They told me about the safari, yet their narration centred only on one thing: the chicken. “Do you want chicken for dinner”, the agent had asked. “Okay”, they had answered, not guessing what this would entail. They started on their camel ride with great anticipation. Yet soon they noticed that a chicken was tied to one camel, legs up, head down. The chicken was clearly miserable and as the day progressed it lost feathers, turned bluish, and was half dead yet still alive. My friends could think of nothing else but the chicken. They felt so sorry for it. Their safari was spoilt. In the evening the chicken was “made” but they could not eat it. “I don’t think I can ever eat a chicken again”, the woman said.

In India, animals are out in the open, in contrast to so called developed west where most people even in small towns see only pet dogs or cats and never come face to face with a cow or even a hen in their whole life.  In India everyone comes close to cows, goats, pigs, monkeys, dogs, hens, elephants… and foreign tourists get sometimes very incensed at their treatment. They feel pity for the stray dogs, condemn the neglect of the cows wandering the streets and are furious at animal sacrifice at some temples. And I agree, it is terrible to see on the road side low cages crammed with hens that can’t move or a goat tied in front of a butcher’s shop or being led to a temple where it will be killed soon after or a picture in the local paper of a truck that had been caught packed with pitiable cows intended for slaughter.

Yet India is still the one country standing out in the world: it has the greatest percentage of vegetarians and is therefore comparatively good to animals. By far the greater (legal) crime of even unimaginable proportions is committed in the western world, only – there it is hidden and euphemised in language. It is a clever business strategy, because who would like to know that he chews on a cadaver of an animal that had a pitiful life? So, the meat is made to appear as if it is not connected to a formerly living being. Nobody, except those who work in the ‘meat industry’, is confronted with the brutality involved. Those who eat meat, and in the west almost everyone does, betray a total amnesia about the torture and slaughter of ‘live stock’.

Swami Chidanand of Parmarth Ashram in Rishikesh wrote a small book titled “Vegetariansm: for your body, your mind, your soul and your planet” and gives chilling facts: in USA alone some 20 million chicken and 90.000 cows are butchered every day. In a year over 10 billion animals are slaughtered in USA alone. The numbers are inconceivable and don’t convey the suffering and fear of each single one of those creatures who have done no harm to us. We might condone the killing with the argument that in nature, too, one species feeds on another. Yet the human species is certainly the worst. In the majority of cases we don’t need the meat. In fact we would be healthier without it. We eat it for pleasure and don’t even think about what it entails. Swami Chidanand mentions that the national news network in the US broadcasted videotapes of the world’s biggest meat packing company.

“The tapes showed struggling, conscious cows hoisted upside down and butchered… fully conscious cows were skinned alive, their legs cut off while struggling for freedom. Cows were shown being hit repeatedly with stunning devices that did not work. Other cows were tortured and repeatedly shocked with cattle prods and workers were shown shoving an electric prod into a cow’s mouth.”

There would be much more to quote from his book about the miserable lives and terrible treatment of calves, pigs, geese, turkeys and hens by big agriculture. It churns one’s stomach reading about it and thanks to books like the one by Swami Chidanand or email forwards with photos, people do become more aware nowadays. Small farms are coming up where animals are treated better and vegetarianism is on the rise in the west.

Unfortunately, in India, meat eaters are on the rise. Alone the number of chicken eaters in India has doubled from 2000 to 2007 according to a study by Newsweek. Maybe eating chicken or a hamburger is considered cool and modern, like drinking cola or eating chips. In India it is known, unlike in the west, that what one eats, influences the mind. Just think of the sad life and fear the animal experienced before being killed. Do you really want to eat it? Besides, digesting meat takes up to 72 hours. Just imagine it rotting in your system for three days at a heat of 37 degrees C. It is acknowledged that vegetarian diet is healthier for body and mind. It is also better for the planet, as animal foods industries cause almost half of the greenhouse gas emissions worldwide and it helps to feed many more people, as across the world, an average of 40% of the grain harvested is used to ‘produce’ meat. And it is better for one’s spirit if one does not indirectly support that colossal bloodbath that is happening day in day out hidden from our eyes. Probably most people could not eat meat anymore if they saw what had happened to the animal that is on their plate.

Campaigning for animal rights is incomplete and insincere if it includes only those animals that are out in the open and excludes our animal brothers and sisters who are mercilessly pushed into slaughterhouses and brutally butchered and then eaten up by animal eaters in a ‘civilised’ manner.

by Maria Wirth



  1. arishsahani · · Reply

    Wish INdia was Hindu nation ,India could help the world for change. Now a secular ,appeasing islam is destroying its all good qualities.

  2. Just want to say your article is as surprising. The clarity in your post is simply nice and
    i could assume you’re an expert on this subject. Well with your permission allow me to grab your RSS feed to keep up to date with forthcoming post. Thanks a million and please keep up the gratifying work.

  3. Kapil Patil · · Reply

    This is really a nice argument for those who think that eating a plant and eating a chicken is same as in both cases we kill a living being by ignoring the collateral and invisible damage to self and surrounding environment.
    Thank you !!

  4. The problem with Indians is that they want to learn everything but not by experience.. by books,. by articles. Experience should be primary and the learning should be secondary. Learning should occur later to experience.!! The most confused concept in Indian education system. We teach our children the theory first and then practicals.! Even in school and colleges.!! Experience should occur first, and then theory to explain the experience/phenomenon.
    But am very hopeful regarding India.!! things are getting better day by day according to my vission.!! Only science will triumph.!!


  5. Maria you omitted the ‘Halal butcher shops’- Nothing can be crueller & barbaric. A bearded Thug with blunt knife repeatedly trying to cut the cow’s throat reciting Arabic word.

    Agony, scream, blood……. Beyond my description

    Witnessed by People (non Muslims) with humanity will have sleepless night rest of their lifetime.

  6. viraltiwari · · Reply

    If slaughter houses walls were made of glass..most us would be vegetarians.

    If we are required to kill the very animal which we intend to eat, again most of us would become vegetarians (something akin to what the German couple felt in your article).

    Ahinsa (non violence) is one of the pillars of Hinduism & this is why vegetarianism is held at such a high regard in it.

    I simply fail to grab why people can eat meat with such ease. True its easier for me to be a lacto vegetarian, since I have been so by birth.

    To be honest,I never felt the urge to try meat. It has always turned me off. It was always and still is very dear to me.

    But if one see’s how the food has been treated prior to being on their plate, perhaps they will have second thoughts about it.

    How can they think that after all the trauma and agony it has been through, it would provide in any way?

    I think the documentaries “Earthlings” and “Vegucated” put it very aptly. I was so moved after watching those. Following are the links for same:

    Note: They do have some graphic scenes. Discretion advised.

    It takes a lot much of efforts to produce 1 pound of meat than 1 pound of plant product viz. resources in terms of water, transportation, maintenance, food for the animals which are to be slaughtered.

    Many studies have pointed out to the fact that if people turn towards vegetarianism, most of the worlds food problems would be solved.

    Also more the animals more the carbon foot print. Its that simple.

    But like you say, its sad that meat eating is on rise in India and surprisingly in west its on fall.

    Many a meat eater turned vegetarians have said that meat eating does effect how you feel and think about life and those around you.

    How would us humans react, if a certain species suddenly tops us in the food chain and we become their delicious food? Wont there be a clamor against that murder and cleansing?

    Well we are doing more than that, with rampant and genetically modified animal farming on the industrial scale, we are not only torturing so many a souls but also stuffing ourselves with chemicals which we should not.

    Again some of my friends don’t eat beef out of religious beliefs or avoid meat on certain days off the week / some months of the year (most notably the month of Sawan).

    I think this is devoid of logic. A cow, goat, chicken or a fish..all are living beings. They all suffer.
    And weather you eat them only on a certain day of a week, it does not matter because they STILL SUFFER!

    And I refuse to turn my stomach a graveyard of those poor traumatized creatures just for the sake of of the satisfaction of my taste buds.

  7. apple_life · · Reply

    Reblogged this on ignite the mind and commented:
    before doing and adopting anything just give a thought we as a Indian belongs to great culture. do not fall in trap by media or wrong information about own culture. lets first study our own true scripture or be in contact with a person who has through knowledge. if we fail then time will when we will not get a chance to regret also.

  8. Very well written article. Rise in meat eaters in India is also because of economic growth and globalization. Indian people travel outside India find it difficult to get Vegetarian food.

  9. Nirmal Maity · · Reply

    Nature has arranged necessary killing of animals. But the problem with manis that they want more and more. They kill more than necessity. Always we should act with restraint and conscience.

  10. Thank you for this very logical and appealing article. I could not have put it any better. Let us hope that more people get to munderstanding what the killing of an animal to satisfy one’s palate really entails.

  11. Rangarajan · · Reply

    unfortunately, veganism is equated with Brahminism in Tamilnadu where I live.Sometimes back ,the then chief minister ( now dead) , banned all sacrifices of animals like goat and fowl in the village temples. The issue was seized by her opponents, who projected it as a denial of a native form of worship! Unnerved by the backlash, the ban was lifted.The ancient Tamil literature ‘Thirukkural” on which all the political parties swear, severely castigates against killing of animals for food,

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: