This post is a bit different from my normal posts, but it is still about love. This time it is about my love for animals and specifically a protected species that is being mindlessly killed by the thousands here in the UK: Badgers. I have decided I want to stop the badger culling that is happening. To save them, but also to pay back something to the animal kingdom as I used to be a meat eater and I can now feel how awful that is and for me helping the badgers is a step to atone for that unloving action.
To give a bit of background, I became a vegetarian back in 2001, but didn’t do it very well and became malnourished and ate fish again for a about 2 years or so. I obviously still had some emotions about food and eating to work through. Since my son was born in 1994 I had gradually gone off different types of meat, the last thing being chicken. Bit by bit I suddenly saw and felt the “meat” as a living breathing animal. I couldn’t disassociate anymore and then eventually the same happened for fish. I have now been vegan since the end of 2015, though I was hardly eating much dairy by then. I did it for health reasons and then watched the film “Cowspiracy” which not just talked about the animals, but also the impact on the environment of the meat and dairy industry, and that completed the transition.
Since I have become vegan I have over time found it harder to understand why people eat meat. I know it is not nutritionally necessary, but I guess there has been an emotional shift in me that now it seems very odd when I see people buying and eating meat and even at times, if I am honest, I am repulsed by it. I “see” the animals and I sometimes hear their cries.
Then lately, I have the feeling I want to atone for the sin of eating meat. This is not a judgement on those that do, but just how I feel within myself. The badger culling has upset me since I first heard about it and I signed a petition, but now I am wanting to do more if I can so I hope I can contribute some awareness to start with.
The reason for badger culling, so the government say, is to reduce the incidence of bovine TB, which has devastating effects on the farming industry and their families. (Of course if we didn’t eat meat or dairy this wouldn’t even be an issue as farming would be plant-based).
Here are the facts: (source the Badger Action Network and Wildlife Trust)
- This year 19,274 badgers were culled ( and this doesn’t include the number in West Somerset or West Gloucestershire)
- Next year 33,841 are targeted
- A scientific study was done between 1998 and 2006 where Lord Krebs concluded, ” badger culling can make no meaningful contribution to cattle TB control in Britain” and “Culling is not a viable policy option.”
- The primary cause of the spreading of Bovine TB has been shown to be cattle to cattle.
- In fact, Bovine TB exists in the countryside and has been found in everything from soil, earthworms, cats, sheep pigs and more.
- Badgers were protected by the Protection of Badger Act in 1992 and the Convention on Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats because they are a crucial part of an ecosystem. When one badger is killed the number of foxes doubled.
- The badger cull has no support from the British Veterinary Association, the public or any wildlife charities.
- There is no evidence that culling has changed the level of bovine TB. In fact prolonged culling has been shown to increase bovine TB levels because it affects badger behaviour and the location of badger setts.
- Badger Culling is more expensive than vaccination. Between 2012-14 £16.8 million was spent on the culling of 2,476 badgers which works out at £6785 per badger. Vaccinations cost £293 per badger
- Most scientists and wildlife experts believe that vaccination is more effective as it does not disrupt badger behaviour.
- More research also needs to be done on biosecurity to prevent cattle to cattle spreading of the disease.
- Here is a short film by some leading wildlife experts: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JhojkHMyaJg
So it all seems very clear and we can take actions: sign petitions, join local groups and write to MPs and much of that has been done. In fact, there has been a huge public outcry about this so why isn’t it changing? Why are the government ignoring experts and its voters and continuing with this illogical and awful killing?
I believe it is the same reasons, people still eat meat. We have become hugely disassociated from our emotions about animals and nature in general. We look upon our survival as dependent on us and our actions. We don’t accept emotionally simple facts, such as without trees, we won’t have oxygen; without flies, we would have piles of bodily waste products sitting on the planet. We don’t FEEL how much we need nature and in fact because of our development how we are the custodians of this planet and all the creatures in it and that possibly this beautiful place is ours to enjoy without the need to destroy it or the any living being who lives here with us. We still have very arrogant and maybe have religious justifications for “lording it over” animals, thinking we have a right to their meat, to their reproduction. Therefore, we don’t feel all our fears that underlie this: our fears about our own survival, for instance.
In the video, one expert stated he understood the farmers angry emotions about the impact of bovine TB on their lives and that because of this they wanted someone to pay. How awful, that it is now the badgers that are paying for the fact that farmers feel helpless, don’t want to feel helpless and want something to make them feel better: so let’s kill badgers and despite the evidence to the contrary. To be a farmer, you must have to become emotionally detached from animals and their suffering to varying degrees, whether it is sending them for the slaughter; putting newborn calves in tiny pens the same day as ripping from their mothers; killing hundreds of thousands of male chicks or forcing cows to produce gallons of milk time and time again after forcibly inseminating them.
But none of us are innocent in this. We demand dairy products, we love our cheese, we want our steaks and we want someone else to provide it for us, to kill the animal for us, to take the baby calf away so that we can drink it’s milk. We want that. So despite the fact than many of us are up in arms about badger culling, and we want animals to be recognised as sentient beings we actually are hypocritical every time we put on our leather shoes, or cut into our Christmas turkey. We won’t look at our real emotions – the un-lovingness in each of us that allows these things to occur and asks another person, a farmer to kill on our behalf.
We can not change things we are lying about. We can only change things when we face the truth, emotionally, of what is happening. If you really want to stop this awful culling, you can take some peaceful actions, but you can also ask yourself about how you really feel about animals. Watch things that will trigger emotions, such films as “Earthlings,” and don’t cover your eyes or press pause. Face the truth, feel it. If thinking was the answer all the scientific evidence would have changed things. It hasn’t. For some reason the culling is continuing so this means we are not recognising something we need to.
To not eat meat again I have had an emotional shift, over time that deepens over time. There are many who become vegan for lots of reasons and it is currently quite fashionable, but if the shift isn’t in your heart you will feel “tempted” to eat meat again, you will find it difficult or you will become anaemic because of your fears around plant-based diets.
We need to do the same for all our treatment of animals. Stop disconnecting, face the truth and chose Love. We ignore what is staring us in the face because it is not convenient, it challenges our “comfortable” lives and addictions. Ironically, that is the point, to change everything, we have to challenge and question all the ways we are doing things and seek the loving solution and the real truth. We will make mistakes, but the seeking of the truth is a very good first step. It is the that step which created this blog in the first place: an experiment, a searching and seeking for change.
I want to save the badgers. I want to learn what love is. But other times I am still very angry, in pain, wanting addictions and presenting a face to the world that isn’t me. That is the truth: a battle of my soul, a seeking and searching, making mistake after mistake and getting a few things right. But I would rather try than do nothing. As Roosevelt said:
“The best thing to do is the right thing. The next best thing to do is the wrong thing. The worst thing to do is nothing.”
Prayers for the badgers and all the beautiful creatures that share this world with me.
@2017 Maxine Bell