The book that I’m reading right now (The Face on Your Plate by Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson) includes a section about animal welfare. It goes into detail his and others’ reasons for becoming vegans and while it is very intense, he does bring about some excellent, thoughtful points.
In his research, Masson found that in 1993, the UK Government’s Farm Animal Welfare Council developed the “Five Freedoms” of animal welfare:
“1. Freedom from hunger and thirst by ready access to fresh water and a diet to maintain full health and vigor.
2. Freedom from discomfort by providing an appropriate environment including shelter and a comfortable resting area.
3. Freedom from pain, injury or disease by prevention or rapid diagnosis and treatment.
4. Freedom to express normal behaviour by providing sufficient space, proper facilities and company of the animal’s own kind.
5. Freedom from fear and distress by ensuring conditions and treatment which avoid mental suffering” (63-64).
The noble pursuit of this committee, of the novel, and all I can think about is how these would apply to my life? How would these apply to the lives of some of my colleagues who I know suffer the same difficulties?
Ignoring the first one (which is a little bit of a gimmie and kind of cheating for a recovering orthorexic/anorexic…), let’s look at 2 through 5…
Do my colleagues and I have freedom from discomfort? Physical or emotional?
Do we have freedom from pain or disease? Are our social-emotional illnesses or injuries even acknowledged, let alone diagnosed or treated at any speed?
Are we able to express normal behaviour? Can we even do so without comradery, but instead, in an environment of neglect and submission to the machine? Acceptance of our places as things and not people is no way to foster normal behaviour. In fact, wouldn’t it separate us further from our own kind? Wouldn’t it have our colleagues become unrecognizable as kin?
Mental suffering, fear and distress? Those are too easy. I spent yesterday in emotional squalor, suffering, fear and distress, because I had no support from the team I just signed on to be a part of.
This is not to suggest that there is a comparison to be made, a winner or loser, a lesser or more-er(?). These are just the musings of a hurting soul, one that has found compatriots in the hurt.