|The circus is unnatural entertainment (public domain photo)|
My whole outlook has changed since going vegan. Rather than just taking things at face value, I look for the deeper consequences. For instance, I will not be participating in the ALS ice bucket challenge or contributing to that organization. Why? Because they do animal testing and not the mild kind, if there is such a thing. That's not all, though.
This past summer I attended a rodeo in Deer Trail, Colorado. It was a big deal. Not only is it the home of the world's first rodeo, it's the home of my partner's grandparents. He went to high school there. The rodeo is a big part of the town's identity. Unfortunately, as we watched the cowboys flip the little calves around with no thought to their discomfort, we got a sick feeling in our stomachs. We also noticed the curving of the horses backs when the saddles were taken off. Curving caused by years of being ridden and ridden hard. We won't be going to any more rodeos.
Doesn't it sound fun to have a working vacation at a farm or ranch. I used to think so. That was before I learned the extent to which we use and abuse the animals raised for food, clothing and more. It was before I learned that the meat and dairy industry is the biggest polluter on the planet. It was before I realized that a meat and dairy based diet wastes tons of water and grain and contributes to world hunger.
You know those cute little bunnies, calves and sheep with the blue ribbons? Do you know what happens to them after they get their prize? I do. The blue ribbons indicate their superior flavor. What's really sad is when the 4-H kids that raise them have to give them up to be sold for slaughter. It's very traumatic for them. Many of them cry. Some try their best to convince their folks to keep them as pets. They love these animals. How on earth is this a wholesome way to raise your kids?
I used to take my kids to the Zoo all the time when they were young. I thought it was wholesome family entertainment. They got to see other animals up close that they wouldn't normally see here in the U.S. I thought it was a good educational experience for them. Even then, though, it bothered me the way the caged gorillas looked at me as I peered into their cage and their lives. Now, as a vegan, I don't go to zoos at all. Doing so would feel so wrong. I don't want to pay for other animals to be caged or take away their personal freedom. There's nothing wholesome about that.
Circuses are even worse than zoos where the animals are concerned. Do you really think it's wholesome or natural to train other animals to entertain us? Zoos have been known to abuse animals in order to “train” them to do ridiculous things. Bears have their feet strapped to bicycles until they learn to ride. How many times do you suppose they fall and hurt themselves before they perfect this skill? Elephants are whipped when they don't perform well. Young animals are taken from their mothers at an early age to join the circus, just as young male calves are taken from their mothers and slaughtered as veal.
My entertainment is hardly worth all this.
I can live without the zoo, circus, rodeo, etc. if means I save another creature from the misery that comes with captivity. Some might argue that they treat their animals well. That's just the thing, though. Other animals are not ours to use and abuse. They're not ours to keep. They don't belong to us. They are individuals just like we are. They have feelings and families and rights. I'm glad that as a vegan, I have discovered the consequences of my actions are just as important as the actions themselves. Look below the surface, my friends. Even if you're not vegan, think about the form of entertainment you choose and how it impacts others. Have a heart.