*Trigger warning: Some of the images and descriptive language provided are graphic. I will be discussing animals suffering and death. *
As someone who has been surrounded by the internet for as long I can remember, I found it very interesting that there is very limited media coverage discussing animal cruelty. Animals are clearly extremely important to many individuals, as over 62 percent of Australian households own a pet and 90 percent have previously had a pet at some time in their lives (Animal Medicines Australia, 2020). I have recently discovered that there is a large amount of animal cruelty transpiring that we are unaware of and I am interested in exploring when it is occuring, how it is happening and why it is a forbidden topic to discuss, especially in the media. This will allow me to spread awareness of this media issue, depict the value of all animals’ lives and possibly influence vegan/vegetarian lifestyles. So, why is media coverage so limited when discussing animal cruelty?
In our day to day lives, people eat all types of food produced by farm animals including cows, pigs, lambs, chickens etc. However before purchasing the food, most individuals don’t contemplate where their food is produced or how it came to be in this processed form. In a previous survey case study, it was found that “over two thirds of those who participated were unaware of how their food is processed and are unknowledgeable on how to find this information” (Shim et al., 2011). It is extremely sad that most people who eat these animals or the foods they produce, are unaware of the torture and horrific conditions that these animals are trapped in. Thousands of these animals are being squashed into filthy, windowless sheds or trapped in small wired cages and crates. This day and age has grown to be such a “large farming industry” world where we are heavily reliant on these companies to provide us meats. As time goes on, more and more animals are being mistreated and then slaughtered. In just America it was found that “1 billion farm animals were slaughtered in the 1950’s, it then extruded to 3 billion in 1975, 6 billion in the 1980’s and is currently over 12 billion” (Baur, 2008). It would be extremely interesting and powerful to discuss a more in-depth analysis of the animals’ deaths through statistical data, to allow the reader to feel empathy for the animals.
Cruel behaviour towards animals is not only to claim the food they produce but it’s also a method that some cosmetic makeup companies use in order to test and experiment with their newly formulated makeup. These animals including rabbits and rats, are placed in cages and tested on, causing them to get severely irritated and potentially die. This is a topic that is extremely rare to find discussed on the media but would be enormously beneficial due to its large accessibility for everyone and will allow others to further their knowledge on this issue. It was only until a year ago that I personally discovered the “cruelty free” symbol on a label, allowing me to further develop information on this. It is very important to spread a cruelty free message through the beauty industry as it is, according to Orbis Research (2018), currently valued at over $532 billion dollars and is expected to grow at least $805 billion by 2023. This large of an industry will make a huge impact on young individuals to “consciously consume” brands and potentially influence a vegan friendly lifestyle. Further investigation that I am interested in discovering is particularly what companies are not cruelty free and why. This will be interesting to uncover as there are many alternative options rather than testing on animals including biotechnology, volunteer studies, human tissues etc (Zurlo et al., 1994).
Another reason as to why these animals are put in this position is to produce home wear, furniture and clothing. This is something that I know has been happening for over 50,000 years but is something I am not greatly knowledgeable in, just like many others (Gamborg et al., 2012). These animals are hunted down and shot in their own homes, leaving their families to fend for themselves in the wildlife. The media has taken more action towards this issue as there are television channels including the Discovery channel and Animal Planet, as well as hunting documentaries. However, this issue is not shared onto the mainstream media as frequently as it should be for all individuals to see, it is produced as films or television shows that are found if you personally search for them. It is not something that is spread throughout social media platforms or even presented in news articles. Why is this?
Unfortunately, the media is very poor at sharing how our simple grocery decisions, or shopping choices can impact the world so largely. After heavy research, Lingel, G (2019) found that the reason is because “people don’t want to feel culpable”. He states that if the media forces this information out into the world, people are going to feel guilty and will have to accept that they are “contributing to the problem”. It is unbelievable that this small little reason is what is preventing the world to change for the better. People all over the world should have access to this knowledge and be able to personally decide if they will continue with their choices or change them. People should at least understand what it means to buy those foods, or to wear those items, and how it effects the animals that produce them.
Aid Animals (2021) “Fur Farming – Animals Skinned Alive”, viewed 23 March 2021
Animal Medicines Australia (2020) “Pets in Australia: A National Survey of Pets and People”, Newgate Research, pp. 4-6
Baur, G., (2008) “Farm sanctuary: Changing Hearts and Minds About Animals and Food”, New York: Touchstone Books, pp.1-20.
Gamborg, C., Jensen, F., Sandøe, P., (2018) “Killing Animals for Recreation? A Quantitative Study of Hunters’ motives and Their Perceived Moral Relevance”, University of Copenhagen: Society and Natural Resources, pp. 1-11
Harvard Health Publishing (2014) “Is a Vegetarian or Vegan Diet for You?”, Harvard Medical School, viewed 23 March 2021
Lingel, G., (2019) “Why Doesn’t the Mainstream Media Report on Animal Righs Issues?”, Plant Based News, viewed 23 March 2021
Orbis Research (2018) “Global cosmetics products market-analysis of growth, trends and forecasts” viewed 23 March 2021
Peta (2019) “Cruelty-Free Makeup That’s Also Vegan” viewed 23 March 2021
Shim, S., Seo, S., Lee, Y., Moon, G., Kim, M. and Park, J., (2011) “Consumers’ knowledge and safety perceptions of food additives: Evaluation on the effectiveness of transmitting information on preservatives”, Food Control, vol. 22(7), pp.1-5 https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0956713511000028#!
Zurlo, J., Rudacille, D., Goldberg, A., (1994) “Animals and Alternatives in Testing: History, Science, and Ethics”, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, chapter 3.