On Bipeds & Brutes

National Museum of Animals & Society Blog

World Farm Animals’ Day

Image via Wikipedia.

Image via Wikipedia.

On October 2, 1869, in the Indian seaside town of Porbandar, Karamchand and Putlibai Gandhi welcomed into the world an infant who would grow up to become an incredible force for change – for both people and animals. Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, often referred to as Mahatma, is recognized for leading his countrymen (and women!) in a crusade for independence, but he’s less widely known for his genuine compassion for animals.

The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way in which its animals are treated.

Animals too, he believed, benefited from the tenets of nonviolence and justice. Gandhi advocated for better, more humane farming practices as well as for a vegetarian diet. During his years in the UK, Gandhi was involved in the London Vegetarian Society and contributed quite a bit to the weekly newspaper aptly named The Vegetarian.

To my mind, the life of a lamb is no less precious than that of a human being. I should be unwilling to take the life of a lamb for the sake of the human body. I hold that the more helpless a creature, the more entitled it is to protection by man from the cruelty of man.

I feel that spiritual progress does demand at some stage that we should cease to kill our fellow creatures for the satisfaction of our bodily wants.

Fast forward 142 years after Gandhi’s day of birth. October 2, 1983 marked the first celebration of World Farm Animals Day, an event created by the Farm Animal Rights Movement in memory of Gandhi’s life and contributions towards farm animal welfare. In the 28 years that this event has taken place, participants the globe over have initiated creative means for enlightening the public to the plight of farm animals on factory-style farms: vigils, marches, leafleting, tabling, cage-ins, and video displays. 2011 promises to be another innovative year with the use of the new Pay Per View campaign. Participants, who would otherwise shy away from knowing what takes place on factory farms, are paid $1 to watch a few minutes of undercover footage. They say an image speaks a thousand words. These videos speak millions.

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