Certain customs and practices in our society are passed down from generation to generation. Some stand the test of time like celebrating Thanksgiving or having a groundhog predict the weather in February when we know meteorologists have already determined when Spring will come. Others we outgrow as times change and that’s not always a bad thing.
While we may have a tinge of nostalgia looking at old photos and think, “I wish things were like that still,” we can all agree slavery, a tradition for centuries, is no longer considered one.
Animals have been victims of human traditions for a long time, and in these five cases, it’s about time it stopped:
Hunting was once a necessity for the early man to survive, providing him with food, clothing from animals’ skins and material to make tools from bones. Weapons were rudimentary. Humans and animals were literally fighting for survival of the fittest.
Then as man created agriculture, hunting became a tradition where killing an animal was done for fun. Fast forward hundreds of years and man not only has supermarkets and stores that supply food and clothing year-round, he has weapons with night vision and automatic focus, which allow him to take down an animal from miles away. Sometimes hunters even have the added advantage of being in an enclosed park, where animals are bred for the sole purpose of being hunted. It’s not a necessary fight, much less a fair one.
Modern hunters claim their actions help with conservation efforts but scientific research has proven that is not true. Instead the animals are being hunted to near extinction. Costa Rica banned hunting after thousands of concerned citizens asked for it. It’s time for every state and country in the world to follow suit.
What started with a bunch of cowboys in the 1800s wanting to see who was best at riding and roping cattle turned into a huge event so popular it is the official sport of Wyoming, South Dakota and Texas.
The “show” is extremely violent with competitions like roping, where a rider yanks a calf by its neck into the air, slams him down on the ground and ties his legs together, leading to severe injury to the animals or even death. Behind the scenes, the animal is being tortured before the competition even starts. From an electric prod that effectively tases the animal making him buck from the extreme pain or metal spurs that dig into his abdomen and groin area, cruel devices are used to make the usually tacit animals overreact and give the daring cowboy more of a challenge.
The United Kingdom, the Netherlands and the city of Pasadena, Calif., are among the places that have recognized the cruelty in rodeos and outright banned it. Unfortunately it is estimated that 30 million people still attend rodeos every year considering them a tradition. But is a tradition that involves this much pain something to be proud of? No.
Going to the zoo
Odds are everyone reading this has a fond memory of visiting a zoo as a child. What’s not to love? You get to be around animals and there’s usually ice cream involved. Sadly for the animals on the other side of the cage, it’s not such a fun experience.
Even the biggest cage cannot compare to the freedom of the wild, and it takes a toll on their health with lower life expectancy and displays of unusual behavior.
Conservation is also not an excuse for keeping the animals under lock and key since animals bred in captivity won’t be released back into the wild.
Why not start a new tradition of going to an animal sanctuary instead?
Bullfighting is a big tradition, specially in Spain. The “show” consists of a matador luring a bull in a sand arena and stabbing him to death to the viewers’ entertainment and applause.
In the words of comedian and activist Ricky Gervais, “It’s terrified already — the crowds shouting — it’s disorientated, it just wants it to stop. It’s done nothing wrong, this bull.”
The first bull fight dates back to the 12th century, back when people also gathered around to see criminals being stoned to death for fun. Today, this violent tradition has no place. The waning audiences and the fact that 60 percent of Spaniards oppose it are proof of that.
In Southern France, bullfights were removed from the cultural heritage list. Catalonia has banned them. Alicante has replaced its usual running of the bulls with a cycling race, and in Villafranca de los Caballeros the yearly bullfight was ditched and instead the city used the money saved to buy books for needy kids. Next time you go on a trip, ditch the bullfight too.
Perhaps no tradition is more embedded in our culture than carnism, or eating meat. As a society we love our pets and don’t want any harm intentionally caused to animals, but we don’t think twice about eating a double cheeseburger with bacon or some chicken fries. Once upon a time, like hunting, eating meat was necessary for survival, but today it makes no sense.
Science has shown us having a plant-based diet is not only complete in nutrients but also better and healthier than a diet supplemented by meat. That is not even to mention the horrors of factory farming, the toll that producing meat takes on the planet, and how switching to a plant-based diet could help solve the problem of world hunger.
There’s a value to practices that have been passed down to us in culture but sometimes “it’s just the way things have always been done” can become an excuse. It’s time for that, along with these traditions, to be retired.