I’ve always loved animals. As a child I used to go and sit in the arena section of the Dolphinarium in Brighton delighting at ‘Dolly’ and ‘Baby’ as they performed their routines and dreaming of being a dolphin trainer when I was older. I carried a little book around with me entitled Zoology, which I had picked up at a jumble sale for a few pence. I would carefully study the pictures of all the different species between the pages then proudly deliver various facts from the animal kingdom to anyone polite enough to listen.
As children we had various pets, as you do. She She the cat, Rabby the rabbit, Jimmy the tortoise, Budgie the budgerigar and various goldfish, whenever the fair was in town. Our holidays were taken on a dairy farm in Devon where we got to help Mr Drew, the farmer, herd the cows in for milking, feed the chickens, collect their eggs and cuddle the kittens of the farm cat, of which there always seemed an abundance. I really have always loved and been fascinated by animals, a further demonstration of this is through a recent discovery in the loft. I came across a scrapbook I had lovingly put together, at around the age of 10, making good use of my cutting and sticking skills as I sought my favourite pictures of animals from various magazines and, to my parents’ horror, rather expensive books from the family book collection, so I had them all in one place to muse over.
So if my love for animals was so evident as a child and, I would like to think although now have to doubt, as an adult too why have I eaten them and been part of their suffering for nearly 48 years? Why did I not make the connection earlier? Why did I not realise what they had to go through, their sadness, their pain? Why did I profess to love animals but do nothing to prevent the cruelty beset upon them?
Recently, I revisited the Brighton Dolphinarium, which is now the Sealife Centre. When I arrived at the area where I used to sit as a child I was struck at how small and pond like it was. The last dolphins to have been captive at the aquarium were ‘Missy’ and ‘Silver’ who were released in to the Caribbean Sea in 1991 as part of the controversial ‘Into the Blue’ project. I remember the reporting of it at the time and feeling glad they were to experience their natural habitat and no longer perform for their dinner, despite the fact I had enjoyed watching them so much as a child. As I sat that day, in the cold light of adulthood reminiscing about my Saturday mornings as a child, my mind also wandered back to those dairy farm holidays in Devon. I always wondered why the baby calves were kept in a darkened barn away from their mothers. I remember feeling sad and asking why that was but I don’t remember being told they were taken away from their mums so we could have the milk meant for them and their fate, as babies, was to live their short lives in the dark so their meat was pale and tender as this would produce the best veal. I’m not sure I would have believed the truth had I been told then or what I would have done with this information had it been provided but, now I feel at least I would have been told the truth and that seed of truth, whether it germinated then or some years later, was the truth. Its difficult to make decisions on how to live your life when you are not afforded, or trusted with, the truth. If we owe animals anything at all it is this: if we are to consume their lives, their bodies, their being then lets make sure those who do, know the truth of what that consumption involves.
One way in which you can do this, is by joining us at The Udder Truth on Thursday 19th October at Mama Ghanoushe in Hassocks. Due to popular demand this event is a repeat of The Udder Truth that we ran back in September.
I hope to see you there!
Love Sue x