So Easter is coming and I'm getting pretty excited about all the dairy-free easter eggs, hot-cross buns and faux fish I've stocked my pantry with. But one thing that does really get me worked up at Easter, as a Sydney-sider, is the Sydney Royal Easter Show! (for those of you from interstate it's the equivalent of the Melbourne Show, Brisbane Ekka, etc...)
As a child I adored the Easter Show. My Dad used to even let me have the day off school so we could beat the weekend crowds. My absolute favourite part was visiting all the farm animals. Combine this with fairy floss, roller coasters and show bags and it was truly kid-heaven.
Despite being a sensitive, animal-loving child, all the cruelty surrounding the housing, transportation and ultimate slaughter of these animals never clicked. And why would it? The show is set up in a magical, fairytale way with all of the cute animals and none of the horrors that they must endure.
First you might go to the nursery stalls where you see happy piglets, chicks and ducklings playing and snuggling up to their mothers. Then in the dairy stalls they explain the "nutritious benefits" of dairy and make the whole milking process seem totally natural. Moving onto the adult pigs, cows and chickens you stop to pat them, make a connection with them and admire their ribbons. Everything is clean, there is lots of space and the animals look healthy and well groomed.
Then in the next room, there's a diagram explaining which cut of meat comes from which part of the animal. It is here that you might feel a moment's guilt at the fact animals are slaughtered, but you think "well, they obviously have happy lives up until the end, and this nutrition panel says I need meat to be healthy... gee, I think I'll go have a dagwood dog". You then walk off, feeling on top of the world, singing "Old McDonald" in your head ... thinking everythings ok.
What they forget to mention is that baby animals are taken from their mothers in factory farms and that they have painful surgical procedures performed without aesthetic in their first fragile days of life.
Nor do they tell us that a mother cow isn't just milk making machine—she is forced to give birth every year to continue lactating, only to have her baby taken away from her and slaughtered.
Oh and of course they don't mention the fact that these animals are a tiny few of the 500 million Animals in Australia who, back on factory farms, are kept in prison-like conditions, denied freedom of movement, that would be illegal if they were a cat or a dog!
No wonder we grow up with a warped and romanticised view of the animal farm, when even as kids we have the wool pulled over our eyes at shows like these!
And don't even get me started on the utter cruelty of the rodeos, and the awful leather and skins shops.
So you won't find me at "The Greatest Show on Earth" this year. I'll be spending time celebrating a cruelty-free Easter with my family, friends and ferrets.