Ecologic : The animals are not at fault

21-Apr-2020 : 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 week’s article talks about animal rights and regulation of wildlife markets.

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

The animals are not at fault 

Animals are in the news during the pandemic. Whether it is a funny video of monkeys in public swimming pools, birds on city streets or serious stories like the virus found in native bat species, there is a lot of news that is surfacing at this time raising serious questions on animal rights.  The link between the virus and animals seems inextricable–it was likely that the virus launched in a ‘wet market’, The Hunan Seafood Wholesale Market in Wuhan.

Similar to a vegetable market, wet markets in Asian countries are typically several open-air stalls selling fresh seafood, meat, fruits and vegetables. Some wet markets sell and slaughter live animals on site, including chicken, fish and shellfish. In China, they’re a staple of daily life for many. Some of these wet markets also have wildlife for meat and as exotic pets.

In Hong Kong, Japan, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam, there is immense pressure on the government to eliminate illegal and unregulated markets. While all of this is happening globally, it could be a useful time for us to really examine our interface with animals and use this opportunity to tighten a few animal welfare laws to prevent future biological disasters.

In India, the fear of spread in disease by animals is primarily through animal farms which are unsustainable and over exploited. In order to reduce this risk, major food companies and smaller farms alike must improve the welfare of animals. The inhumane factory farming and transportation of animals prior to slaughter rank among the most important welfare issues along with the attitude of workers. As an individual, if you are making a choice to consume an animal product, choose one that is responsible to the animal, to the planet and to you.

In this regard, completely switching to a plant-based diet is among the most prominent topics in food ethics today. In the words of Mahatma Gandhi,  “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.” Be kind to our animals, stop biological disasters, go vegan!