Monday, December 7, 2009

Don't Talk With Your Mouth Full

With 2010 just days away and next year being the one that marks our hosting the FIFA World Cup, football is quite the trending topic. But we're not just talking about goals and red cards- everything we do is being carefully watched by the world. One such an example is the Ukweshwama ritual, a Zulu tradition whereby a bull is killed at the hands of men. It was suggested that this ritual be done as a sort of inauguration of the football stadiums. This suggestion was contested by animal rights groups, as was expected.
I am big on animal rights. An animal lover and -owner myself, I am a vegetarian and I also take care not to support companies that do animal-testing [see below], as well as showing support to those companies that are animal-friendly. I do the things that are within my [and anyone else's] reach, and anything else I can, be it volunteering at animal shelters or raising funds for them. But I am on Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini's side on this one.
The thing is that this ritual has been done for over 3000 years. Yes, I agree that it is a cruel process because the bull does not die instantly. But consider a few things while you bitch and moan about this process with your mouth stuffed with chicken nuggets.
The number of bulls killed in this way is small. Like, really really small in context. So while you may not physically kill animals, you are probably doing a lot more damage, albeit sans getting blood on your hands.
People eat fast food. It is part of modern living and hardly out of the ordinary. But eating your Big Mac, even if it is only every now and then, has ramifications far beyond a lifetime on your hips.
Firstly, millions of animals are killed to provide you with that juicy greaseball of a burger. And don't think these animals are killed in any more a humane way than these bulls. McDonald's and Kentucky Fried Chicken kill their animals in horrific ways that are far from quick and painless. Then, there are the other repercussions. Deforestation occurs mainly because of the need to provide these millions of animals with grazing. So, trees are cut down, cows graze in the new space after which they are killed en masse by cruel means, and often soil becomes eroded because it has not been properly prepared and it cannot take the strain of all these animals feeding off it. So now we have a bunch of dead cows, no trees and useless soil. This is going well! Next, we need abbatoirs and factories for all of this. More trees are cut down to make room. Moreover, the meat industry is one of our worst environmental disasters around! Cows are transported from farm to abbatoir to factory to factory to butchery to supermarket to your home. This means carbon emissions for processing as well as all of the transport involved and lots of waste from packaging in all the various phases. Finally, you have a whole bunch of fat people who need bigger clothes, more medical treatment, stronger cars, more junkfood and are generally sweating it up in here, pushing us faster down the slippery slope of death by climate change.
So, while you're perching on your high horse about a tradition of one of the many cultures of this country of ours that so values diversity, put down your Kentucky Fried Cruelty burger and think. Doing harm is not necessarily as blatant as the things you criticise. Yes, the bull-killing is cruel. But it is part of a nation's culture that has been alive for thousands of years. But it is not a speck of dust on the disasters we are creating just by continuing our everyday lives.


Lourens Loki Corleone said...

I don't really agree though. Can killing one animal slowly and painfully really be justified by all the meat that we eat from animals that were culled quickly?

Livestock is livestock, but I'd rather want a bull to be shot in the head than being slowly sacrificed for some ritual.

I've seen many animals slaughtered on a farm, the old-school way and it isn't pleasant ... I can't imagine that this is any better?

At the end of the day, I guess that two wrongs don't make a right. I don't mind sitting here chewing on a King Steer burger criticizing the bull-sacrificing because eating a beef burger will not make the world think we are barbaric tribes people.

As I said earlier, there is a big difference between an animal being killed in a (aptly-named) butchery and a animal having its throat cut on a soccer field in front of 100 million people.

Just because something is culture doesn't make it a good / acceptable thing.

Lize Kay said...

That's just it, though. From your comment I feel like you didn't even read my post!

You are clearly not aware of what goes on behind the scenes of your burger. These animals live terrible lives and are not killed in the quick, humane way you may imagine.

As I said, it IS cruel, but it is NOTHING compared to the cruelty and environmental damage done by the meat industry. What you're doing by supporting the meat industry is much worse, that is a fact, not an opinion. Not that this killing is not cruel [I DO MENTION IN THIS POST IT IS A CRUEL METHOD], but it is [AS MENTIONED] nothing compared to the meat industry.

Just because you're not killing the animal yourself [AS MENTIONED], means you deem it more humane when it is certainly not.

I am sure you would feel better if this were part of your culture.

Eating that burger will not make the world THINK you are barabric. Truth is, you are. Butcheries and the lives these animals lead up to their being killed for your unhealthy munching pleasure is equally bad.

Lourens Loki Corleone said...

I think that you are just willing to let that animal die so that you are justified in pointing out how barbaric it is, because then there would be a big shock factor involved.

This would be the obvious way to see it, I feel, but the problem is that while the world will most likely be taken back by what they see, they will do so while clutching some Burger King in their hands.

The opinion of the world will not change, the only opinion of the world that will change is how the see us and I don't think we can afford looking like butchers in the eye of the world.

This will do a lot more harm. I believe that it will be a gigantic setback for anyone who is against animal cruelty.

Now, imagine this is shown on many people will now think it is okay to act like that? How can we ever accuse anyone else of cruelty if we think a barbaric ritual is all good? The media is the most influencial thing in our society today. People won't see the animal being killed and suddenly want to change to a vegetarian diet, people will merely judge us as a nation.

I'm not fighting against you here...I know, I eat meat so it is a giant contradiction but I believe that animals should be treated as humanely as possible whilst still serving their purpose. (I am sure you will disagree on the 'purpose' part but that is not the topic at hand)

I hope that in the 21st century people will let go of bronze age superstitions and that everyone will just start caring a little more.

Babysteps. We won't change the world today, but I believe that education is the key.

Lize Kay said...

I am not 'willing' to let anything just happen! Like I said, in Lizeland NO ANIMALS WOULD BE KILLED. Seriously, I continue to feel that you are not hearing what I am saying at all.

Yes, THEY will see us as barbaric. But not all of them. Hello, bullfights in Spain are not only still in practice, people attend them when they visit the country!

Just because the world will be taken aback while eating fast food does not mean that suddenly the fast food industry is not cruel or harmful! Seriously, you need to know the facts of what happens to these animals! Maybe then you can stop vehemently defending your fattening habits, because it is not humane at all, and the over-consumption is shocking. You need 30g or protein a day, which you can get from a number of other sources. Yet a number of people will so much mroe meat than that.

The world needs to see us as we are. We are NOT Europe or America, we are Africa and that is an African tradition. Why do we want to seem like something we're not? Must we also tell them we have no HIV/AIDS infections, and that our crime rate is, in fact, the lowest on the world?

My point is not that it is not cruel. [PLEASE READ THE POST AGAIN!] My point is I would rather we kill one bull for a Zulu ritual than kill millions of cows annually for fast food. Because all that meat is unnecessary and [again] those cows [and other animals] live terrible lives and they are killed in inhumane ways. Example: chickens are BOILED ALIVE to defeather them. Calves are kept in cages where they literally cannot move, so you can have tender veal. Anyone who thinks the practice is humane is sorely misinformed. And my 'babysteps' will be to get people to eat so much meat.