ECOLOGIC : Be compassionate, Be sustainable

10th July 2019: Pavitra Sriprakash, Director and Chief Designer at Shilpa Architects Planners Designers writes a weekly column on Sustainability for The New Indian Express titled “ECOLOGIC”. This article talks about how Animal welfare is at the very heart of sustainability and how humans, environment and animals are all inextricably linked to one another.

Full article below: (Also available at The New Indian Express Website)

Be compassionate, be sustainable

Watch out — there is a baby calf on the road!! How many of us have had such near misses on our roads? A recent family road trip on the ECR had us encounter several stray animals on the highways. Amidst high-speed cars and bikes, watching these helpless creatures saunter through precarious crossings made us nervous on more than one account. The state of stray cattle on our roads is indeed terrible. These are not wild animals that are coming out from the forests and becoming roadkill, these are domesticated and often owned animals which are let out to graze.

They have no rights or protection and are often left astray and susceptible to accidents quite frequently. This prompted me to think — what aspect of sustainability will the fair treatment of animals fall under — while the answer is not obvious at first; it is a fact that sustainability, the environment, and animals are all inextricably linked to one another. In fact, animal welfare is at the very heart of sustainability.

There exists an undeniable link between animal production, animal welfare and all other ethical, political, economic, environmental and social issues. Production and consumption of products with animal origins need special monitoring to ensure that they are, in fact, ethically and culturally sustainable.

The current livestock production has a direct impact on the environment in several ways — the amount of greenhouse gasses that are emitted, the use of potable water for maintenance of livestock and the land resources they take up. There are welfare groups that argue that the issues go beyond and affect our rainforests which are being cleared to rear animals for slaughter and also wildlife which is being killed to protect them. But, we cannot ignore that this ‘food industry’ contributes to the livelihood of rural communities and is responsible for the health and nutrition of people around the world.

But at the same time, the treatment of livestock needs to be cruelty-free — animal welfare is a societal concern and it is absolutely important that all of this is rolled into the sustainability agenda. The food, how it was harvested and the way we consume it is not a private issue anymore. We have to take into consideration the effects on the global population, the environment and the treatment of animals. In fact, the most staunch sustainability folks in the world today argue that switching to a plant-based diet is the way of the future.

Each day, a person who eats a vegan diet saves 1,100 gallons of water, 45 pounds of grain, 30 sq ft of forested land, 20 lbs CO2 equivalent, and one animal’s life. When talking specifically about cruelty against animals and our personal contribution in being sustainable, every move counts. With awareness building against animal testing, we are helping save thousands of lives that will otherwise remain caged, consume resources of food and water and eventually die in that very same cage.

With new technology, animal testing across industries can easily be banned as we discover eco-friendly and cruelty-free alternatives for testing our products. Adopting a sustainable lifestyle means maintaining a balance, one in which we do not harm our Earth or any of the living creatures on it. Be compassionate, be sustainable!