The National Animal Rights Day 2019 in Manila

Every day, across the world, a genocide is being committed round the clock. The daily death toll is enormous: Over 150 million animals and water creatures.

What makes this even more horrific is that this genocide is being paid for by us–everyday, regular peace-loving folk with a voracious appetite for meat, fish, and all other animal products that require the killing of up to 56 billion land animals and billions more water creatures every year.

But there is hope ahead. There is a steadily growing movement to raise the awareness of civil society by exposing the cruelty of animal industries, and then inspiring individuals to act positively by encouraging them to adopt a cruelty-free, compassionate, and plant-based lifestyle. The movement is spreading from country to country.

It’s called the annual National Animal Rights Day, and worldwide that day is June 2. It has been held for 9 years. In the Philippines, the NARD was first observed in 2018. This year, it has been held at the Bisig Marker in Rizal Park in Manila. Finally, our nameless, defenseless victims of the daily genocide can have a voice–even if just for one day.

The NARD activists say that with the help of their sustained efforts, there is still that hope to build upon the great strides made every year towards ending the suffering of all animals, and transitioning mankind to a plant-based lifestyle. For NARD, it’s mission accomplished only when all animals are free from human captivity and carry equal rights to existence.

The NARD program in Manila began at 3 p.m. with a memorial ceremony and an emotional opening speech by Ronnie Fernandez for the animals who died by human hands this year, This was followed by flowers laid at a “grave site”.

Then the Declaration of Animal Rights with event hosts BJ Nicolas and Betty Castillo was read and signed. The rest of the afternoon and early evening was spent with performances by all-vegan musicians Choke Cocoi (led by “Reasons” restaurateur Odessa Karuka on drums), Rice and Jovs Rili, Alise and Maki, and light-dancer Lemon Toldeo. Inspiring and informative talks were conducted by Dr Stef dela Cruz (“Imagine a Vegan World”), Nona Andaya Castillo (“Staying Vegan: No Excuse for Animal Abuse”), Mabi David (“A Cat is a Cow is a Girl: One Struggle, One Fight”), and lawyer Manuel Salvador (“Beyond Property From Cents to Sentients”).

The NARD 2019 in Manila concluded at 7 p.m., four hours after it started. Reality, however, cruelly marches on. The inhumane treatment and slaughter of animals continues if NARD’s exhortations fall on deaf ears, cold hearts, and closed minds.

Just because you don’t see it happening, doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen. That fried chicken in your hand, that hotdog in your fork, and that beef steak in your mouth happened because your appetite for meat chose for it to happen. And because of your demand, meat producers scramble to kill innocent animals–the chicken, pigs, cows, marine creatures, by the ridiculous billions–just so they could bring you what your cravings dictate.

We are smarter than this. We are kinder than this. The wonders of food technology has made it possible for us to still relish the taste of meat, but not kill the animals. Here are just some of the names already available in the market: Quorn, Beyond Meat, Follow Your Heart, Kite Hill, Make My Day Foods, Missionary Chocolate, Miyoko’s Kitchen, No Evil Foods, Plamil Foods, Ripple, Tofurky, Violife, Silk, So Delicious, Sweet Earth Natural Foods, Yves, and a lot more. And then there are already hundreds of restaurants serving plant-based dishes in the country. There are also readily available meat substitutes like tofu, jackfruit, mushroom and healthier milk sourced from soy, cashew and almond. It only takes just a simple online search.

We can already completely halt the demand for real meat right now. And when demand ceases, so will production. When production ceases, so will the killing and the suffering of the unseen billions.

We don’t have to march on the streets to get things done. All we have to do is to choose compassion every mealtime.