YEARLY MEETING GATHERING – ARE ANIMALS ON THE AGENDA?

Yearly Meeting Gathering 2011
Submissions were invited for Britain Yearly Meeting, the gathering for all British Friends to be held July 30 to August 6 2011 in Canterbury. The theme will be Sustainability.
This is the contribution for Quaker Concern for Animals, written by Ann Johnson.
The suffering of non-human animals, on a  national and international scale, touches the lives of us all and the theme of  Sustainability at YMG 2011 provides us with the opportunity to place the  growing exploitation of animals on our agenda. We are dependent on animals in so many ways – for companionship, food, clothes, our spiritual nourishment and sense of humanity.
We know that animals are not simply ‘living creatures’ but  ‘creatures with lives’ who are exploited, over-bred, over ‘consumed’ and  traded unfairly in:
Food and farming:
Factory farming –  the cattle rearing industry is a major contributory factor to global warming.

Fishing and the growth of the farmed fish industry.

The fashion for consumption of ‘exotic’ meats such as crocodile, ostrich, kangaroo.
British slaughter houses where there is documented evidence of lack of supervision and brutality.
The ‘pet’ trade:

Commercial over breeding of traditional domestic animals continues despite animal shelters now filled to saturation. The Cats Protection charity looks after up to 7,000 unwanted cats at any one time. In 2009, Battersea Dogs’ Home put down 2,815 dogs of which 1,931 were healthy. Growth of the ‘exotic’ pet trade: Many animals, birds and reptiles are wild-caught from countries outside the UK and die during transportation.

Animal testing:
Despite the  development of alternatives, the pharmaceutical industry is still largely  dependent on the animal model for testing drugs and many of our everyday  household products are tested on animals.
Tourism and ‘entertainment’ industry:

Circuses: At time of writing, wild animal acts are still legal in the UK.

Aquaria abroad: Mammals such as dolphins and orcas are captured from the wild to live for years in tiny tanks, forced to ‘perform’ for tourists.
The weapons manufacturing industry:

New weapons are routinely tested on animals in the UK.

Mindful of our testimonies to simplicity, truth, equality  and peace, as well as sustainability, we would urge the organisers of YMG 2011  to challenge the concept of ‘ the hierarchy of the species’ and include animals on the agenda. Here are some suggested ways:

* An all-vegetarian menu with a vegan and carnivore option.
* A shift from an overtly ‘people-centred’ event and for the word ‘animal’ to be  routinely included where appropriate, alongside references to ‘humans’ and  ‘people’.
* Consideration of the inclusion of a workshop to explore our close dependency on and relationships with our fellow species in a sustainability context, identifying ways to live our lives more fairly alongside non-human animals.
~ Ann Johnson QCA Area representative (Sussex East).

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