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Animals, Children and Vegetarianism
by Adelaide Carvalho (translated by Bettina Myers)
from IVU Newsletter, February/March 1996

IVU Newsletter No.13/94 published a poem written with great pain and suffering by Nicola Thomas. It tells the story of the animals bred in factories, which, after a long chain of suffering, come out chopped up and steaming on the plate of the average person in these final years of the twentieth century.

The poem suggests two main themes. Firstly, the importance of the fight to give animals the right to live in the most natural conditions possible: in the open air rather than within four walls and walking on earth rather than on metal grids etc. If we insist on treating animals more and more brutally, this behaviour will make the human race even more brutal. Secondly, the common citizen should convince himself that human beings can live much better consuming little or no meat, relying on animal by-products like eggs and dairy produce, yogurt, cheese, cottage cheese, keffir etc. How many health problems, how much pollution caused by sewage, how much emigration caused by poverty would be eased if awareness was spread that human beings do not need to gather their strength at the cost of animal life.

In the poem called An Instant one great Portuguese poet, Miguel Torga, shows the tenderness he feels for animals. A person who is not a writer, but is more sensitive, strokes the flank of the cow or the head of the lamb when he goes to a cattle market, or pets a rabbit when he goes to visit his homeland.

How can we understand the common citizen who, just after his strokes and caresses, sits down and treats himself to a meal made from bits of animal? This is something of a paradox, but is understandable. Some still remember the meals they ate when they were children. Others, who do not have such good memories, notice what so many mothers and fathers still do nowadays. With caresses, kisses and slyness - look here comes the aeroplane - or a cuff round the ear, they stuff food into their childrens mouths which they often feel the greatest aversion to. What a smell, what a texture! - it is no coincidence that children reject meat and fish.

Conditioning at such a tender age by those who nurture us and defend us from so many dangers is difficult to lose. It takes years to understand that not all which is taught by the family, teachers, friends and the media is salutary for the human race.

An Instant

The scene is hushed and brief:
In a pasture,
A lamb
Gently grazes,
Enraptured,
The mother sheep pauses in her chewing,
And life
Also stops to gaze.

Miguel Torga


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