By John Di Leonardo
The quote “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated” has long been attributed to Mahatma Gandhi, a key figure in India’s struggle for independence from British rule and the son of a Hindu father and a Jain mother. Though India celebrated its 75th year of independence last week actual celebrations will be 75 weeks long, the struggle for the freedom of animals is still being fought in every nation around the world, with animals being exploited for food, clothing, entertainment, and experimentation by the trillions each year. Just as Gandhi’s unique form of nonviolent resistance, known as Satyagraha – or truth force, encouraged Indians to boycott British goods, stop paying British taxes, take part in peaceful protests and marches, and ultimately change legislation, Satyagraha offers a path to fight for the rights and welfare of every species around the world. For this week’s Anuvrat, I urge you to participate.
Worldwide, more than 70 billion land animals and trillions of sea animals are killed annually for human consumption. The simplest way we can help these animals is by choosing not to buy or otherwise consume animals or any of their products, such as milk, dairy, honey, or silk. Boycotting animal products removes ourselves from the supply chain, preventing the deaths of 200 animals killed annually for our individual needless consumption. Each vegan prevents 200 animals from being killed each year simply by the act of being vegan.
Getting active in peaceful marches or nonviolent protests outside of fur stores, butcher shops, or places where animals are being exploited for entertainment, experimentation, or any reason raises awareness about how animals are suffering, exponentially growing our own boycott by teaching others how easy it is for them to boycott animal abuse industries as well.
Once our boycotts and protests have reached a critical mass, we can use legislation to help animals on a greater scale, like the Indian Independence Act did for the people of India in 1947. The Puppy Mill Pipeline Bill is a critical bill that will prohibit pet stores from selling puppies, kittens and rabbits, thereby protecting them and consumers from the cruel mill industry. This bill will shut down the puppy mill to pet store pipeline and drive the market in New York towards more humane sources like shelters and rescues. New York’s Cruelty-Free Cosmetics Act would end the sale of new animal-tested cosmetics, protecting countless animals from suffering due to cruel and outdated tests. You may have taken action on both of these bills previously in other week’s Anuvrats. Thanks to your support, they are awaiting the signature of New York State Governor Kathy Hochul.
Will you help animals get over the finish line by calling Governor Hochul’s office at 518-474-8390 and urging her to protect animals by signing The Puppy Mill Pipeline Bill and the Cruelty-Free Cosmetics Act? Then consider taking an additional step by joining our friends at New York City’s Animal Rights March starting at noon this Saturday, August 27 outside the Flatiron building.
John Di Leonardo is the founding director of Humane Long Island. He was previously the Senior Manager of Grassroots Campaigns and Animals in Entertainment Campaigns for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). He has a Master’s degree in Anthrozoology from Canisius College. He also earned a graduate certificate in Jain Studies from the International School of Jain Studies (ISJS) in India. John can be reached at [email protected].