The First and Last Words of Animal Rights Documentary "Dominion"
I'll be upfront, I couldn't finish Dominion. It's gut-wrenching and just 30 minutes in, it shook me to my core. Since I'm 90% vegan I gave myself the permission to not go through with it so I skipped many parts I couldn't bear.
Nevertheless, I'll leave you with a statement many will find radical but then again I find it radical to eat tortured dead animals if we have other available, affordable options, so here we go:
Not just for the sake of the animals, but also for the sake of us, so we can make educated, ethical, and healthy choices about the things we put into our bodies. Because don't be mistaken - the mainstream food industry is none of these things.
Also, I was an avid meat-eater until I watched Earthlings. Ca. 10 minutes in, I became vegetarian and never looked back. Afterward, I gradually transitioned into veganism. Dominion finished me off and might've catered for that last 10% of my dairy consumption.
What I want to say is I'm not a saint but living proof these documentaries can do the trick. I feel more empowered and less as if I was making a sacrifice.
Either way, here are the deeply touching first and last words of Dominion which was by the way narrated by Joaquin Phoenix, Rooney Mara, and Sia, among others.
Most people consider themselves animal lovers.
We recognize them not as objects, but as complex beings with whom we share the planet, our lives, our homes. We take pleasure from their pleasure, we anguish over their pain, celebrating their intelligence and individuality and welcome them into our families, or revere them in their natural element.
The thought of unnecessarily causing them harm or suffering is to many, unbearable.
So for those who feed, clothe, or entertain us, we choose to follow a narrative that minimizes or altogether eliminates their suffering. The picturesque family farm and the iconic, loving farmer. A humane and painless end, a small price happily paid for a life well-lived. An arrangement of mutual benefit.
Hidden by this narrative, out of sight, out of mind, they cease to be individuals, most known only as livestock, faceless units of production in a system of incomprehensible scale, exempt from the cruelty laws that protect our companion animals.
Their suffering unseen and unheard. Their value determined only by their usefulness to humankind, rationalized by a belief in our own superiority and the notion that might equals right.
A notion that must be questioned.
[2 hours of graphic, hidden camera footage of the husbandry of pigs, chicken, turkeys, ducks, cows, sheep, goats, fish, rabbits, minks, foxes, dogs, horses, camels, mice, exotic animals, and seals & dolphins follows.]
If the greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated [...] What does it say about us, as a species?
In our entire recorded history, 619 million humans have been killed by war. We kill the same number of animals every 3 days, and this isn’t even including fish and other sea creatures whose deaths are so great they are only measured in tonnes.
But before we kill them, we have to breed them…
Confine and exploit them, for food… entertainment… clothing… and research.
Their entire lives, from birth to death, are controlled by industries who care only for profit. An empire, of suffering and blood.
Paid for by consumers who are told that their treatment was ethical. Free-range, local, organic. That their deaths were humane, that cruelty to animals doesn’t happen here in our country, and if it does, our government, our authorities, will find it and stamp it out.
And us, as consumers, have little reason to think otherwise, because to eat and use animals is normal, we’ve done it forever.
Because the products for sale on supermarket shelves are so far removed from the individuals who once existed, some only briefly, some for years without reprieve.
Individuals who share with us and our companion animals we love so dearly, our capacity to feel love.
Happiness. Grief and mourning.
Who share with us, our capacity to suffer. Our desire to live, to be free, to be seen not as objects, not for our utility to others, but for who we are as individuals. Beings in our own right, not units of production. Not stock. He, she, and they, not “it”.
The truth is, there is no humane way to kill someone who wants to live.
It is not a question of treatment or better ways of doing the wrong thing. Bigger cages, smaller stocking densities, or less painful gas.
We tell ourselves that they have lived good lives, and in the end, they don’t know what’s coming and don’t feel a thing. But they do. In their final hours, minutes, and seconds, there is always fear, there is always pain. The smells of blood. The screaming of other members of their species, with whom they have shared their lives. Never a willingness or desire to die, but rather, a desperation to live, a frantic fight to their last breath. And never are they shown mercy or kindness, instead mocked, laughed at, kicked, beaten, tossed like ragdolls, or sent into a mincer because they were born the wrong sex.
We take their children.
We take their freedom.
We take their lives, sending them healthy and whole into a slaughterhouse to come out as packaged pieces on the other side, and we tell ourselves that somehow, along the way, something humane and ethical happened.
And in the process, we harm ourselves.
We destroy our environment, emitting through animal agriculture more greenhouse gases than any other industry, tearing down our forests, and slaughtering our native animals to make room for farms.
The world’s cattle alone consume a quantity of food equal to the caloric needs of 8.7 billion humans, and yet one in nine humans – 795 million – suffer from chronic undernourishment, and 844 million lack clean water while 1000 liters are used to produce 1 liter of milk and 15,000 liters for one kilogram of beef.
And yet we continue to justify animal agriculture by claiming that it’s normal, necessary, and natural. That the animal kingdom, or certain species within it, are inferior to ourselves because they lack our specific type of intelligence because they’re weaker and cannot defend themselves. We believe that, in our apparent superiority, we have earned the right to exercise power, authority, and dominion over those we perceive to be inferior, for our own short-sighted ends.
It is a justification that has been used before.
By the white man, to enslave the black, or to take their land and their children.
By the Nazis, to murder the Jews.
By men, to silence and oppress women.
Are we doomed to repeat history over and over? Does this superiority complex, this pure selfishness, define who we are as a species? Or are we capable of something more?
I found this transcript on the website of the Farm Transparency Project.