A Fight on All Fronts: Part 2 of ‟In Defense of animals”

By Matthieu Ricard on January 19, 2015

In my case, the accusation of holding views that are ‟offensive” to humans because I spend some of my time writing about and trying to prevent abuse of animals is somewhat incongruous. Karuna-Shechen, ( the humanitarian organization I founded, treats 120,000 patients annually in Asia, and provides an education for 25,000 children in schools we built. My endeavors to spare immense suffering to animals do not diminish my determination to alleviate the sufferings that humans undergo. Suffering can be dealt with wherever it is, whatever it is. The fight can and must be fought on all fronts.

Worrying about the fate of some 1.6 million other species with whom we share this planet is neither unrealistic nor offensive since, most of the time, it is not necessary to choose between the well-being of humans and that of animals. We live in a complex interdependent world where the fate of every being is closely linked to that of others. The point is not to care only about animals, but also about them.

In truth, we will either win or lose together. Today, the breeding industry that supplies meat for the richest countries consumes 750 million tons of wheat and corn every year. That would be enough to feed the 1.4 billion poorest humans in the countries where those cereals are produced.

Raising livestock for meat production contributes to 14.5% of greenhouse gas emissions linked to human activities (higher than the percentage created by transportation). In addition to these dire consequences, several epidemiological studies have established that eating meat five times a week, especially red meat and processed meats, increases the annual risk of colon and stomach cancers and cardiovascular diseases by 15%.

Concern about the mass slaughter of animals - 60 billion land animals annually (seven million every hour) and 1,000 billion marine animals (115 million every hour) — does not diminish our determination to address the plight of the Syrians. It simply expresses compassion and the wish to improve the quality of life for all beings.