Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Animal Cruelty and Buddhism: Eggs are Personal


McDonald's, Target Dropped Sparboe Farms As Egg Supplier After Animal Rights Group Released Video

POSTED: 12:28 pm MST November 21, 2011
UPDATED: 7:42 am MST November 22, 2011

An egg supplier has backed away from a spokesman's claim that an animal cruelty video was "staged" by an animal rights group.McDonald's and Target dropped Sparboe Farms as an egg supplier this week after the activist group Mercy For Animals released the disturbing video showing what it says is animal cruelty at the company's farms in Hudson, Iowa and Minnesota. 

The Practical Buddhist Responds

Sparboe Farms is the fifth-biggest egg producer in the USA.  The secret video showed filthy conditions  and chickens being tortured. Its release followed on the heels of government sanctions against Sparboe for substandard sanitation and other violations.  Target, McDonald's, and a long list of other retailers have cancelled their orders with Sparboe, resulting in shortages in their stores. 

Predictabily, Sparboe has been claiming that it’s all lies. Until recently they claimed the video was fake.

Would you be willing to do without eggs for a while if it resulted in somewhat better lives for chickens? The First Precept invites us to revere life in all its forms, and to avoid killing creatures that breathe and can feel pain. It implies that we should  all animals with compassion. Whatever  the marketing motives of the big stores, this egg shortage is a good thing. It reminds us to respect life in all its forms.

And yet. . .Why were people so horrified about living baby chicks being tossed into the garbage? They didn't seem so bothered by slaughter of humans in North Africa or babies dead from starvation due to greed.  Maybe it's because we can distance ourselves from people who look and sound so different from ourselves. 

Eggs, on the other hand, are personal. We shop in Target. We eat Egg McMuffins. Baby chicks are fluffy and cute, not wasted and fly-covered like starving kids.  

Compassion starts with paying attention.