This epic documentary is about to hit screens across Australia with an aim to get people to see the world through new eyes. Here's the trailer:
I got to see a preview of UNITY and the message is plain and simple, yet something that we too often forget: We all exist on this earth, we all experience joy and we all suffer. So why do we tend to focus on our differences instead of what unites us? Are we doomed to repeat the mistakes of the past? Or can we open our eyes (and hearts) and learn to truly love ourselves, our planet and our fellow species?
From the writer and director of EARTHLINGS, UNITY is told by 100 different narrators, including Ellen DeGeneres, Jennifer Aniston, Dr. Dre, Geoffrey Rush, Selena Gomez, Aaron Paul and Jaoquin Phoenix. With a message that's close to our hearts, we were delighted when Mushroom Pictures asked Animals Australia to partner with them for the launch of UNITY in Australia.
PLEASE NOTE: UNITY is a deeply thought provoking film that is not afraid to challenge its audience. It contains images of human and animal suffering that may be confronting for some viewers. It is not suitable for children.
Unless you've been living in the depths of the South Atlantic Ocean, you'll have noticed that the media is having a field day with surfer Mick Fanning's encounter with a shark on the weekend.
This morning as I was getting my coffee, I caught a glimpse of the Herald Sun and the front page headline read "I BEAT JAWS".
Legit newspaper cover.
Firstly, let me just say that I'm very glad Mick Fanning and Julian Wilson are safe. Secondly, -- this headline, and much of the media's portrayal of this incident, is shark poo.
Here's how the story should have been written up based on the surfer's retelling of what happened:
Shark gets tangled in surfer's leg rope. Surfer pulled out of water unharmed.
Experts who have studied Great White's stalking seals say that when these sharks attack they move at speeds of up to 40 km p/h, coming up quickly and precisely from depths of 8-14 metres below their prey. The shark in this footage with Mick Fanning is seen swimming around on the surface before bumping into the surfer. See for yourself:
There's no doubt that had this shark wanted to he could've seriously hurt Fanning. But sharks are very curious animals and -- surprise, surprise -- they live in the ocean. Surfers are not blind to the fact that they're paddling around in the natural habitat of a wide variety of marine animals, including sharks.
George Burgess of the International Shark Attack File (ISAF) said: "By all appearances, it was a situation where a White shark was coming up for an investigation of the situation. The fact that there was no bite suggests that the animal was simply there to check it out, to see what was going on."
Sadly, however this will still go on record as an incidence of a shark attack as by the ISAF definition a shark attack is any instance where contact between a human and shark was made. Does this seem weird to you? Yesterday a dog touched my hand with his nose. Was that a dog attack?
And on top of that, many media outlets have decided that they'd rather tell this story:
The problem is that sensationalised stories like this put sharks at risk. Already there are those who want Great White sharks to have their protected status revoked and for more "diligent management" (also known as shark culls) to happen.
Only last year, caring Aussies spoke up to protect sharks, resulting in a cull in WA being scrapped, saving the lives of countless sharks. Why? Because sharks are a crucial part of the ocean ecosystem. What's more, there's no evidence to suggest that bloody culls make beaches any safer. In fact, there are many surfers who are amongst the most vocal in their support of protecting sharks.
But while the media goes on a joy ride to demonise sharks, it cheers me up no end to see that at least the internet is thinking about things from the other side of the story:
If you love sharks, and don't want them to be portrayed as the flesh-hungry beasts of horror movies, you might like to write a letter to the editor of your local paper and share your thoughts. We've got some great tips to get you started.
If you could choose 4 words to describe your companion animals I'm 100% sure these would NOT make the list.
For most of us, the animals we share our homes with are not something -- they are someone. We know their quirks, their likes, their dislikes. We talk about them as part of the family. But this isn't how most animals in human 'care' are talked about.
You won't believe these 4 words are used to describe living, breathing, thinking beings.
Livability (noun): The likelihood that a chicken who is bred for meat will survive long enough to be sent to slaughter.
For the chicken meat industry, the bottom line is how much meat they can produce. So chickens have been bred to grow as fast as possible. As a result of this unnatural growth, many birds do not even survive the 35 days or so before they are sent to slaughter.
These baby birds --who still chirp and have soft feathers -- often become crippled by the weight of their overgrown bodies. Some starve when they can no longer stand up to reach food or water. For others, their organs shut down, unable to cope with their body's rapid growth.
But for the industry the math is simple -- if the extra weight on birds who make it to slaughter brings in more profit than what they lose in dead birds then it's good for business.
Chopper cow (noun): A dairy cow whose body can no longer produce the high volumes of milk needed for her to be profitable, and so she is sent to slaughter – usually to be turned into ground beef.
Like humans, to produce milk cows need to have a baby. So cows who fail to get pregnant or who don't produce enough milk don't have value to the dairy industry and are trucked to slaughter.
But it's not only older animals who face this fate. The moment calves are born they have often served their purpose -- to make their mothers produce milk. So every year an estimated 1 million calves are separated from their mothers and killed in their first week of life as waste products of the Australian dairy industry.
Service date (noun): The date on which a mother pig is impregnated — either by mating or artificial insemination.
Pigs are clever animals who will often seek out company and affection. Yet factory farms talk about them like they were machinery or 'units' on a production line. When a pig fails to get pregnant she will 'return to service' to be 're-served'.
Sometimes farmers will think a pig is pregnant but after a full term she won't produce piglets. If this happens, she is labeled a "NIP" (not in pig). And, like faulty machinery, if she keeps failing to get pregnant she will be 'destroyed' and sold as low-grade pork.
Spent (adjective): Used to describe an animal who can no longer produce enough milk, eggs or babies to be profitable, and so is sent to slaughter.
Like dairy cows and mother pigs, there is no retirement plan for egg-laying hens. For all of these animals, when they don't produce enough to make a profit, they are disposed of like garbage.
Most dairy cows are considered 'spent' by roughly 6-7 years of age and mother pigs at just 2-3 years of age. Egg-laying hens in Australia are sent to slaughter from as young as 18 months of age.
In the language we use -- and in the eyes of the law -- farmed animals are so often treated differently to the animals we share our homes with. But in their capacity to feel pain, and in their desire to be treated with kindness, they are the same.
If you agree that all animals deserve kindness, the power is in your hands. By making simple, kind choices, you can help protect animals, save lives and inspire others to do the same. Take the first step here.
I don't think I could put it any more eloquently than Indie-Rose has.
"Animals are very nice."
If you don't want the "animal-people" to be chopped up, you can be a vegetarian.
In case you're a bit unsure, like Indie-Rose was, this is what a vegetarian does:
Sounds pretty awesome right?
P.S. Indie-Rose's mum told The Mirror that she hasn't eaten meat since this moment 3 months ago :) Share some love for Indie-Rose in the comments below, and for her family for being so supportive of her choice.
A woman in China was shocked to find a piece of beef she had just bought was twitching and pulsating. You have to see it to believe it:
Excuse me for one second while I ...
An Aussie butcher has explained that when an animal is slaughtered there are sometimes involuntary spasms from the nerve endings.
We as a society seem to foget too easily that meat comes from a live animal so when this fact is brought into our focus, we are (understandably) turned off by it. The woman who bought this piece of meat was so disgusted that she chose to film it rather than eat it.
But all meat had pulsing nerves once. And veins. And a beating heart. In fact in my opinion this "beef" is not fresh enough. I prefer "meat" that has all it's nerves and veins pulsing and pumping.
If you're with me that animals should be playing and jumping and getting hugs, rather than dead and twitching on a plate, take the first step to being meat-free today.
Little Stefa, who lives in Poland, proves that pigs are every bit as smart as dogs. She can do all the tricks her dog friends can do with just as much skill and personality :)
Stefa wins my Best in Show award hands down :) It's no secret that pigs are incredibly smart and Stefa is a beautiful reminder of that. Knowing how smart they are makes it even harder to stomach the thought of millions of pigs suffering in concrete pens in factory farms, constantly being bred only to be slaughtered.
While watching little Stefa perfectly nail a series of dog tricks, I can't help but think about one of the biggest injustices in the way animals are treated -- if a dog was ever treated the way most pigs in Australia are there would be a riot. (Not to mention it would be illegal).
Only recently there was massive outrage about the Yulin dog eating festival in China. And among the outraged was myself! It's horrible to think of dogs being killed and eaten.
But I have to wonder, would anyone bat an eyelid at a hot dog eating festival right here in Australia? I would like to think that people would be outraged -- especially if they could see how they're treated. It's horrible to think of pigs being killed and eaten.
I often hear Aussies say that we need to fix the problems we have here at home before we start worrying about what's happening elsewhere in the world. I wouldn't say that I necessarily agree (I think we can achieve both) but I do know that the power to protect animals from cruelty here in Australia is entirely in our hands. While we couldn't save the animals who were killed as part of the Yulin dog eating festival, we can save the animals who are being slaughtered for their meat every single day in Australia.
It's as simple as choosing to value animals like Stefa the pig for who they are and taking them off your plate. And we've got meat-free recipes and handy tips to get you started.
Stefa is a very lucky girl to be valued for who she is. Watch more of her incredible talents in this adorable video:
P.S. Though Stefa is adorable, pigs only make good pets for individuals who are well-researched and know what they're getting into. There are some big, big problems with the "teacup" or mini pig phenomenon, which you can read about here. And as always, if you're thinking about adding a new animal member to your family, adoption is the kindest option :)
We’re supposed to let you know that the ideas expressed here are the views of the individual authors, and may not necessarily reflect the views of Animals Australia or Animals Australia Unleashed. So now you know.