April 18, 2008
Anneka Svenska works with wolves and is an established animal handler and wildlife presenter in the UK. She works with animals around the world for conservation and supports many anti-animal cruelty charities worldwide. Links to her web site are here.
1) When did you get into animal welfare?
When I was about 6 years old and passed an anti cruelty stand in the street. I picked up some leaflets and was horrified at what was happening out there to animals in the world. I immediately transformed my entire life to become totally animal friendly.
2) Are you a vegetarian?
I have been a vegetarian for as long as I can remember, even to the point that a teacher made my mum go up the school so the school could try and 'force' me to eat meat. Even 20 years can make all the difference to education about vegetarian alternative diets and back then they presumed that I would become very sick where as if fact we are far healthier than our meat eating cousins.
3) What would you say to meat eaters to help sway them over to your side of the fence?
I would tell a meat eater to think about the slaughter process when eating an animal.
The trusting animal which is raised to see humans as carers is now taken to a cold, tiled, blood-stained cell where it is electrocuted and its throat slit. It then twitches and kicks slowly to death with others watching the process and knowing that they are next to die'..If the holocaust was seen as horrific slaughter and disrespect for human rights, then I do not see why we should have any claim over another beings life animal or human and the way they should die. Everything has feelings and fear. For humans to say animals do not know that they are being slaughtered because they are 'stupid' are the same people who would never say a mentally challenged child is any less than a normal child. Every creature feels pain and fear. Animals also have heightened senses than humans and as we are not an animal ourselves, why should we presume to know about what they are thinking or feeling? The animals screaming and panicking is a big enough clue to what is going on in their minds.
I also feel sick when I see cheap chicken shrink-wrapped in the supermarkets and how intensive farming has so devalued an animal's life, sometimes to as little as '1.99 for an entire bird. Many chickens are thrown away by supermarkets due to so many being killed. My stomach always turns when I see a child leave its food when it is meat on their plate, as it is such a horrific waste of an animal's life. Killed to be thrown in a bin.
4) Do you think vegetarians are healthier than meat eaters?
Of course we are. There is a build up of fat on the inside of the lower bowels due to thick red meat fat and dairy products. People get heart disease and cancers from a meat diet, not to mention I hate kissing any man who has a dead animal hanging from between his teeth.
5) What do you feel about vivisection?
I opted out of vivisection as school, which was hard as I did biology. I found out that there were live rats being kept in the shed, so I removed all of the rats from the shed and re-homed them before they could be gassed.
6) Apart from the rats, have you ever rescued an animal?
When I was a child I would go and rescue animals all the time. A neighbour kept her rabbits in thick excrement and would forget to feed them for days on end or give them water. There were maggots all over the rabbit's bottom. I offered money for the rabbits and an amicable solution to the problem, but she refused, so I removed the rabbits one night and re-homed them.
I will always stop for a stray dog in London and pop it into my car. I even stopped for a baby rabbit on the motorway once. I had to run over 3 lanes in-between cars to grab the little thing.
I often dreamt of taking all the baby lambs that were born in the spring and save them. Sadly there were just too many for me to be able to realistically do this.
7) What sickens you the most about animal cruelty?
People who say that we are higher in the food chain and therefore have the right to control animals and their lives.
If we are more progressed, then we should have moved on from murder by now. I feel that it is dated and a Neanderthal approach. We are bright enough to have the ingenuity to come up with an alternative, balanced vegetarian diet. We have the choice to value life and conserve and protect the world and environment before the only animals left are in zoos or on farms.
I am also appalled by hypocrites who say they can still eat meat as long as it doesn't look like the animal or if I talk about how the animal was killed while they are eating. These people need to grow up and address the real problem, which is underneath it all; they know that what they are eating is not ethical. They have a conscience trying to call out to them and they should be embracing it. Man instinctually knows what is right and wrong.
I wake up every day with a clear conscience. Both my children are vegetarians and my daughter has vowed to save the animals of the world when she grows up and I will be behind her every step of the way.