One Saturday morning, I wandered towards my local farmer’s market and was happy to see a vegan bake sale to supply me with goodies for my friends and family and support the Harvest Home Sanctuary, which rescues animals, at the same time.
That Saturday, as I continued to shop in my market, I noticed that in addition to the numerous stalls filled with fresh fruits and vegetables, bread and other treats, there were a disturbing few stalls of of raw milk and local meat on sale. And then I circled back to the Harvest Home volunteers to chat some more.
As I got to know these lovely volunteers, they informed me that where I live, in Oakland, CA the planning commission has initiated a plan to make slaughter of animals in residential neighborhoods legal, as part of a plan to encourage healthy local eating. While many vegetarians and vegan fully support efforts to grow plants, we are opposed to allowing animals to be killed, for the sake of our own family’s exposure to slaughter and because we’d rather not have an sanctioned, legal, killing of animals in our neighborhood. For more details on the initiative go to noslaughter.org. To sign the petition directly, click here (note there is an option not to display your signature publicly in order to maintain your privacy). Besides Oakland, other cities around the country are watching and if this passes, you could have the same problem where you live, so make your voice heard!
As Jains we have a tradition of opposing the building of slaughterhouses. In recent times, one of our sadhus was imprisoned in U.P. Our opposition to backyard killing is consistent with our peaceful tradition of activism. Now all your paryushan activitism requires is a click and some typing on your computer.
Read on for more background….
Some in the Bay area are persuaded by writers such as Michael Pollan that extol the virtues of killing what you eat. Farmers Markets around the Bay area have an increasing number of stalls selling organic meat, free range eggs, in keeping with this trend of people eating non-factory farmed animals. Is it better? If we believe that the animals raised in small farms are allowed free range, maybe, but knowing human nature, any being that becomes a commodity to be exploited for profit can hardly be called happy or free… and environmentally, maybe. But again, local systems may not be set up to safety channel animal waste….
A few “locavores” state that they will only eat what they kill themselves; suggesting maybe they’ll eat less meat. But it is highly likely that many who might choose to have chickens in their backyard that they slaughter will also eat meat from other places for convenience. And there is the argument that perhaps if people have to face the animals that they kill they will be less likely to follow through and maybe they won’t kill them after all.
Unfortunately, we see throughout history that people do not notice the suffering of animals that they slaughter, they train themselves and their children to ignore the feelings and the taking of life of sentient beings. While eating a plastic wrapped supermarket prepared bit of unrecognizable animal parts is nothing to promote either, we’ll just be fueling violence in allowing killing to happen locally. Anecdotally, it also seems that some people who might have chosen to eat vegetarian are instead going for non-factory farmed meat.
When I first approached the JCNC leadership about supporting a petition from Neighbors Opposed to Backyard Slaughter, they hesitated, as they wanted to be clear that Jains oppose all slaughter, not just backyard slaughter.But we modified it and President Shobha Vora agreed to sign it! She also asked for it to be placed on the bulletin board for JCNC. Click OppBackyardSlaughter for the modified letter sent to the Oakland city council. An identical letter was sent to the planning commission. We added another letter with more history and background about our community that you can read in Jain_detail_letter.
Thank you for whatever you might be doing this paryushan to show compassion to other lives and build peace within yourself!!