Christian tradition & Vegetarianism
A human being is a really strange creature, especially those who name themselves as „Christians“. They affirm they follow Jesus – the declared friend of animals - and eat a lamb at Jesus’ birthday, at Christmas or at the day of Jesus’ resurrection, at Easter: symbol of redeemer. Isn’t that paradoxical….?
Veg: Mister Michels, millions of animals are killed, especially on „Christian“ holidays like Easter, St. Martin or at Christmas. Each country has its own “religious” blood-traditions and unfortunately its own tradition regarding the animal species and the type of killing, as well. In Morocco for example: they slash carotid artery of more than 5 million wethers on just one day at the beginning of the fast. In this case you have to breathe deeply with the word „religious“. Because no religion wants those massacres of animals originally – quite the contrary.
In Germany it is tradition to eat lamb at Eastern and to eat fish at Good Friday. Uncountable numbers of geese have to give their lives for the festivities of St. Martin and for Christmas. Those geese are even galled “Christmas geese”. More than 6 million of them end up in the oven in Germany only during Christmas Time. But Christmas geese do not only exist in Germany. They are also a tradition in Austria, in the Swiss, in the USA, in England and in many other countries. How does the Christmas goose for example come on our plate?
Christoph Michels: Many of those geese are imported from Eastern bloc countries to Germany. The regulations of these countries are much slacker and the breeder can torment the geese during their breeding much more. You have to imagine that these animals are fatten really heavy with concentrated feed within just few weeks so that they can be offered as cheap as possible for Christmas.
Geese can reach the age of 15 years by nature. They are very amicable and intelligent. They belong to those animals with the quickest reaction and have an excellent hearing. Additionally, they have a really distinctive sense of family: they stay with their partner their whole life and mourn if this partner dies. A further sign that animals are outclass some human beings by far. It is a crime what is done to the geese. Let’s think about the “speciality goose liver”.
The production of goose livers is forbidden in Germany but 70 tons of goose livers are imported altogether. For this purpose the geese are filled with 1.2 kilo swelled maize with salt under compulsion every day, for three weeks. Afterwards they get a ring around their throat so that they cannot throw up the food again. This is the tenfold amount of that food they would eat normally. In this process their livers extend about the seven- to tenfold size. This is then offered as a speciality here.
Veg: The procedure with turkeys, turkey hens and with ducks is similar brutal. They all are kept in mass stocks on smallest space and in barns in which daylight is barely visible. They do not know the great outdoors, the meadows and waters, the sun and the wind. Everything which belongs to the natural living space of these animals is kept away from them.
Christoph Michels: 30 million turkey hens died this way in Germany in 2002. They have been fed up to 7 kilos final weight within just 24 weeks.
Human beings are very creative. Especially, if it’s the point to cause suffering to animals for our own advantage. For example: why are animals spayed - mostly without anesthetization? So that they get fat more quickly, so that the meat gets softer. Mammalians have one advantage: they have a voice. Often they are therefore intoxicated before they are inflicted with pain in many ways.
One creature on this earth suffers in particular that it has no voice: that are the fishes. And they are also consumed on „Christian“ holidays preferably. There is carp in Germany, salmon in France, calamari of each type, sword fish, tuna in Spain; fish is also eaten in South America: codfish and some others.
In a recently shown up edition of „Fish and Fishery“, which is devoted to learning, more than 500 scientifically documents about the intelligence of fishes have been quoted. These documents prove that fishes are intelligent. They can use tools, have an impressing long-term memory and dispose of a sophisticated social structure. A study which lasted 2 ½ years was performed. This study really provides evidence that fishes can feel. It shows that fishes feel pain like other animals as well. But how are theses fishes dealt with?
Fishes are not seen as individuals any more. They are just describes in tons. Today, thus one third of all fishes come from so called tray agricultures which are fed with by-catches of open sea fleets. That means: calamari and other sorts of fish which are not desired are desiccated as fish meal and the tray agricultures are fed with this.
650 million kilo of raised salmon are produced world wide every year. These raised salmon is fed with 500.000 tons of fish meal and this fish meal is produced out of 1.8 million tons of pacific small fishes. Additionally, more and more genetically modified turbo salmon enters the market. Those salmons grow twice as fast as the salmon would grow by nature.
Veg: You told about the fact that fishes are not longer seen as individuals but only measured in tons. Therefore the people do not speak about killing or slaughtering but they speak about “carp harvest”, for example. More than 200.000 tons are “produced” every year. Bayern produced 6000 tons.
Christoph Michels: Another delicacy which is „harvested“ is caviar. But in this process you should not forget one thing: Who wants to harvest caviar has to kill sturgeons. The stomach of the sturgeons is slit open after they have been killed. After the slashing the ovaries are taken out.
Not only caviar, carp, salmon and all the other little fishes are eaten at Christmas. There is a speciality at the South American coast: there, they eat the meat of whales which have been slain by the Japanese. We all know these many sad pictures of whaling which receive us through our TV channels. This huge, intelligent mammalians are haunted with explosive harpoons. They do not scream, they are mute. And the hard-boiled hunters with their harpoons say that they are glad that the whale does not scream. They already noticed that the animal suffers from its agonal state. As soon as the whale is on the ship it will be anatomized immediately. Not even experts can say when the whale is dead. It is assumed that the animals are often anatomized when they are still alive.
Veg: Also the so called crustaceans have to pay for traditionally meals for „Christian“ festivals in Spain and in Germany, as well. These crustaceans are also called „seafood“ including crayfish and lobster. But how are these animals threaten? How are crayfishes and lobsters kept? How are they killed?
Christoph Michels: These animals are raised in cages under water. They arrive at our refrigerator via reefer vessels and stay here for some weeks until they are prepared for the so called feast. This preparation is extremely brutal: As gourmets would like to enjoy the tail of the lobster, the tail is fixed on a slat so that the lobster can not arch it when the it is dunked alive into boiling water for 30 seconds. There is also no screaming, no sound, and no noise of pain. It is completely normal to have millions of lobsters and crayfishes on our tables on festive days. Lobsters could reach an age of 145 years or older.
Veg: In 2004, the evangelic national church of Wuerttemberg advised an environment-friendly Christmas feast and also gave some tips: the game can “live naturally” in the truest sense of the word. Therefore, many butchers’ shops offer meat of wild pig, deer or rabbit around the Christmas Time. How does this “natural” live of the games and their dead look like?
Christoph Michels: Games are threatened by hunters which built their shooting stands all around during their total life time. We know deer as really shy animals; we know that rabbits run away as soon as we act as human beings. This is due to the fact that they have been afraid of us human beings for centuries. This is just regarding “natural life”.
The dead whom they have to suffer from is much more unnatural. Everybody who thinks that a hunter scores exactly when he is shooting believes a cock-and-bull story. Very often, the animal is wounded. It takes flight as far as it can and often lacerates its stomach and perishes under worst tortures.
The first Federal President of the Federal Republic of Germany was Theodor Heuss. He was a politician who enjoyed an excellent reputation from all people in Germany. He already told nearly 50 years ago: "Hunting is just a dastardly circumscription for especial dastardly murder at fellow creatures which do not stand a chance. Hunting is a variant of human mental disease.“ Somebody who eats the victims of this hunt up can figure out with which people one shows solidarity.
Majority of Germans seem to agree with the former Federal President because most of them deprecate hunting. The institution for opinion research EMNID established in a survey that 76,3 % of Germans front hunting critically.
Veg: The animal with which Jesus of Nazareth is compared symbolically is eaten just up at his birthday: the lamb – which irony! Especially as a leg of lamb in USA and as loin rips of lamb in Spain. And the evangelic national church of all things advises to eat lamb. By eating the lamb of wandering shepherd you contribute to the fact that our multifarious culture landscape can be kept alive – namely by pasturing of the sheep. But pasturing is not yet concerned with killing of sheep.
Christoph Michels: The idyll of the old world with flocks of sheep, with the cows, the herds and the bells is no idyll in truth. So, that a cow can actually produce milk it has to be pregnant all the time. And therefore there are many calves. These calves are assorted: the female ones for further dairy cows; the masculine ones which can not be used are fattened as milk calves for four months and are brought to the slaughterer with a final weight of 170 kilos. The calves are cooped up in little boxes so that the meat of the calves gets really soft. These boxes are just 80 to 120 cm. This is so small that the young animals have no possibility to turn around, not to mention to lay down or to stretch. Therefore the calves cannot move in any way and exactly this is the fact of these so called „calve boxes“. The muscles of the animals waste away but this meat is meat for gourmets.
Everybody who eats veal should be aware of the fact that he or she is eating a baby. Normally, a cow would reach the age of 30. So, you are eating an infant of just 4 months.
Everybody is responsible for oneself and has to decide if one wants to support or do not want to support this practice of tantalization and dispatch by the consumption of meat and finally of milk products.
Veg: Many thanks for this conversation.