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Spanish traditions of animal use aren’t worse than our own

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Not unlike the racism, ethnocentrism, and xenophobia brought about by campaigns against Yulin, The Rapa Das Bestas, or ‘shearing of the beasts’, in Spain is bringing out the worst in animal advocates.

Daily Mail shared a brief write up and a gallery of images from the event in which people round up and wrestle wild horses in a 400 year tradition of entertainment. The adult horses have there manes and tails trimmed, and the foals are marked, before all are sent back to the mountains. Participants partake in this act of domestication to mark their adulthood, and guests eat, drink, and spectate at the sport of it.

Advocates have spoken out on the treatment of the horses in the event, calling it distressing for them and in some cases, painful. It goes without saying that as a vegan, I would never participate in, condone, or promote any animal use–including this one. However, advocates are using the spectacle to create their own, in which they inappropriately criticize Spanish people as being more cruel to animals than others are.

In the Daily Mail comment section alone, we can find comments claiming ‘The Spanish hate animals” or calling the Spanish people themselves dumb and immature. Others say they’ll never step foot in Spain, claiming it’s the most ridiculous or pointless thing they’ve ever seen. How about the equine shows, camps, and competitions here? How is it that this act of animal entertainment any worse than our zoos or circuses? Why is the discomfort and exploitation of these animals any different than what people in North American put animals through for our own entertainment? And for that matter, how is it all worse that people choosing to use animals for food or clothing?

The point I’m clearly getting to is that it’s not. All animal use is unnecessary, and we cannot justify our own by demonizing others. This Spanish tradition is not unlike many of our own, and all effectively ignore the fundamental rights of animals in favours of our own desires. Rather than pointing fingers at others, we must use our own actions to refute violence in favour of freedom for all animals. Exploitation exists across the globe, and veganism is the only reasonable solution to all of it.

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