By Hakeem Jimo

THE greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated. – Gandhi, Indian spiritual leader

This column brings up a topic that is not yet very popular in Nigeria. However, it is the very same reason why many people in the world become vegetarians org vegans these days. The plight of animals – be it farm animals, companion animals, marine or wild life animals. Many believe, like human animals, they have rights and deserve to have their best interests taken into consideration, regardless of whether they are useful to humans.

More people believe that animals are not ours to use for food, clothing, entertainment, experimentation, or any other reason. By switching to a plant-base diet, human societies will be able to alleviate the needless suffering and deaths of countless animals, the irreparable damage d one onto the earth like air and water pollution, the erosion of lands, waste of precious energy, and deforestation. Raising and eating meat leaves behind an environmental toll that generations to come will be forced to pay.

Modern high-pressure agriculture commonly keeps cows, calves, pigs, chickens, turkeys, ducks, and other animals in overcrowded stalls, cages, crates, or sheds where they are often unable to turn around or take even a single step for their entire lives. Deprived of veterinary care, exercise, sunlight, and even the feel of grass beneath their feet, these living, breathing, thinking, feeling beings, whose senses are so much like our own, suffer and die at the rate of millions per day just so that we can have burgers, patties, nuggets, and wieners. Deciding what we will eat means choosing between the horrors of factory farming and respect for animals.

Pigs, cows, and chickens are individuals with feelings – they experience love, happiness, loneliness, and fear, just as dogs, cats, and people do. More than 25 billion animals are killed by the meat industry each year – in ways that would horrify any compassionate person.

In modern factory farms, animals are routinely injected with hormones and stimulants to make them grow bigger, faster and increase egg production cycle in hens. This practice has also arrived in Nigeria. I heard of a child who unfortunately ate the first batch of these manipulated eggs and had a life threatening allergy reaction. More of these frightening reports will come as the pressure to make profit does is also in the Nigerian meat industry while regulation and supervision is not adequate.

One of the speakers at the upcoming LagosVegFest (October 10-12 at Freedom Park, Lagos Island / www.lagosvegfest.com) will address this topic.

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Comments expressed here do not reflect the opinions of vanguard newspapers or any employee thereof.