An animal welfare advocate’s Christmas wish

When Martha Stewart’s e-mail asks, “Didn’t think Christmas could get any better?” I wonder what planet she’s on. Unlike Martha, whose career is filled with the joys of crafting and cooking, very little of what I do brings me any joy or happiness.

I cannot remember a day that has not been weighted down with the burden and the sadness that comes with what I do: Keeping an eye on the way animals are fed in America and how their food is made. It is a service that the federal government can’t and won’t do, it’s a job no one wants, and most abandon.

Before I started doing what I do, I never thought about where all the animal products came from, just that they were there folded neatly on shelves, made into beautiful objects, filled boxes, wrapped in plastic and cardboard. Nothing about those inanimate objects gave me a glimpse of the life that had been taken for those products to exist.

Today, I cannot shop in a store without being haunted by the images of unspeakable cruelty that animals suffer at the hands of humans or feel the crushing sorrow while passing row after row of products that line the shelves, hang from coat hangers, fill milk cartons, line egg cartons; their flesh bleached and tanned, sliced and ground, dried and smoked, their remains lie bloody behind the butchers counter.

And it’s not just in one store; it’s in every store, where the remains of lives of millions upon millions of animals line the shelves of every single store in America, and indeed, the world.

Million of animals are raised for our consumption in dark, filthy, pestilent barns, where they live in cages, fetid with the smell of death and lying in their own waste, unable to move, escape or see sunlight or feel the warmth of a kind voice or loving gesture. They live like this so we can consume their meat, wear their skin, and drink their milk.

So much of what I do is measured by the difference I hope I am making, but the reality is that what I do will not change the world, nor stop the suffering. And life, as we know it, will continue as it has and little will change.

Incremental changes are not enough for me, but what hope do I have that real change will ever take place in my lifetime.

None.

When I read that the Food and Drug Administration will continue to allow waste in animal food, and have left animal food out of the proposed regulation protecting food from intentional adulteration, I feel despair.

When I read about the lives of animals in factory farms, the conditions, the food they are fed, I feel sick.

I wonder how other, normal, people live, and enjoy weekends and holidays. For me Christmas will not be spent with friends or family, but with my computer and my family of cats, because I cannot forget the horrors I have seen.

I cannot enjoy myself while so many animals suffer, because I suffer with them and for them. But my life, as sad as it is, is nothing compared to the horror that farm animals suffer every single day of their lives.

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Mollie Morrissette

Mollie Morrissette, the author of Poisoned Pets, is an animal food safety expert and consumer advisor. Help support her work by making a donation today.

Comments (13) Write a comment

  1. You are not alone though for each of us it sometimes feels like it. We see the world differently than the majority of people—so far. They will spend days on end consumed with national sports teams yet do little to attend to the many human-caused tragedies on the planet. The majority of issues are factually linked to one-another. Human poverty, the destruction of ecosystems, all animal agriculture, global warming, and social and economic justice are characterized by violence and injustice. We must prevail even for those cheering on for their teams. Consider, everyone, what a vegan humanity and the Earth would look like. Veganism is far more than dietary choices made. It is about ending the violence and injustice wherever it is. Take comfort that you are essential to creating change.

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  2. Molly, I feel your pain and can empathize with how you feel.

    Knowing the suffering, cruelty, and just plain evil in the world really affects me too, I wish I could turn it off but I can’t. I can mask it with antidepressants or alcohol but it is always there.

    Also the feeling that I am powerless to prevent it makes me sad and angry. My only solace is knowing there are others who feel as I do and are at least trying to make a difference.

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  3. I feel the same way. Just buried my last dog, not 4 months after losing my girl Janey. My last 3 dogs and cat all died from cancer. I’m learning more every day thanks to you and Susan. I’ve always tried to give them the ” best ” nourishment I ” thought ” was available. With introspection over losing my last two and soul searching, it’s become obvious how hoodwinked us ” consumers ” are. I’m still very distraught. I handle human death much better than pet death. This place has never felt so lonely-can’t hardly walk around outside on our 5 acres cause I still expect our buddies to be following. Xmas sucks……

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    • It was with Susan’s encouragement that I continued this work. She is an angel – truly. She said most people eventually give up – the work is that hard. That and plus none of us make a dime doing it. It truly is a labor of love. I am so sorry for your terrible loss Robert, it is tragic. Like you I thought I was doing the best too – and learned the hard way that commercial pet food is mostly crap and worse – it can be downright toxic. Susan started this work after her beloved dog died and found out the cause was probably ethoxyquin (a preservative used, still to this day, in pet food, sadly). Losing a pet is the most difficult kind of death to mourn – we always have so much guilt. My suggestion is to walk, no run, to the nearest animal shelter and you’ll see how quickly your sadness will dissipate when you see the pleading soulful eyes of all the other babies out there dying for a furever home. They need you as much as we need them.

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      • I will pull two shifts at the shelter today. On the East coast, it is pouring this morning, which can make being outside for several continuous hours a real burden. You’d be surprised, how often you get questioned, not only with disbelief, but with annoyance: “why do YOU have to volunteer?”, as it may “inconvenenience” others. There won’t be much of me left, at the end of the day.

        That is the way that I have chosen to spend the holiday. I wouldn’t feel well, doing anything else.

        Your frustration and anguish is something that is, in fact, shared by others. We may wish it were more “others,” but the number is slowly growing.

        We can hope for the day when it will be more difficult to look away from what you describe.

        Those who benefit from and perpetuate the abuse of animals rely on “compassion fatique” to defeat animal welfare advocates. They know that eventually, the stress that is part of advocating for animals will overwhelm the compassionate individuals who plead for public awareness, who will eventually succumb to exhuastion as the the burdens of everyday life compete for their attention. Often, those who complete animal welfare initiatives are not those who began them.

        “Not enjoying yourself”? I congratulate and envy you for that.

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        • Peter, it is people like you that give me hope. I was told not to publish this story because it was too heavy and that it offered no hope. But, imagine my surprise to read the responses from others who share our anguish and are working towards a better future: You all have answered my Christmas wish. Thank you and bless you.

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  4. I did manage to make my donation using PayPal however I want you to know that something is wrong with the link on this particular page as it wouldn’t let me go to PayPal. It said that something was wrong with your web site. I closed the windows and then went straight to you home page to make my donation. Hope you can find happiness doing your good work during the holidays.

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    • That friggin’ PayPal button. I’ll check it again. It really is a wonder I ever get any donations at all — ever. Thanks for the heads up on it. Bless you for your kind words and your donation!

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  5. Mollie, I applaud your courage and passion for speaking out on behalf of animals and against animal cruelty. Thank you for your posts and the work you do.

    Reply

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