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Earthlings 地球上的生灵 documentary review

Today, Director Lim/ 林老师 (who is a vegetarian) shared a video in the Fb group 'Living vs Acting'. It was about two 17-year-old Chinese girls who turned vegan at 14, and have started their own non-profit organisation where they make vegan cookies, and donate the revenue to save animals. All of these started when they watched the 2005 documentary Earthlings 地球上的生灵.

I knew I had to watch it. FYI, I love eating meat. But slowly, I am cutting down. I first became vegetarian during 初一十五, the 1st and 15th days of each lunar month, because these were especially sacred(?) days for Buddhists. Now, I have been eating vegan on 初一十五 and vegetarian on every Monday for a while now. I know that one day, I will eventually become vegetarian. (Sorry, I find being vegan quite hard to maintain, because so many things contain milk, but I will progress towards it.) I started doing Meatless Mondays because my close friend Pengfei had been going vegan for a few months. That encouraged me to do it, albeit not a huge step, it took some getting used to, because on days I was supposed to be veg, I forget very easily when I see food.

As I searched for the Earthlings documentary on YouTube, I saw the comments on the video. Most of them said they stopped eating meat or turned vegan after watching it.

Suffering is abound, yet most of us choose to remain blind to it, and be ignorant. We choose not to understand. As people grow up, they surely know meat doesn't just appear in markets and supermarkets. They came from somewhere. Just because you don't see the violence and cruelty, doesn't mean it doesn't exist. Just because you don't directly kill the animals, doesn't mean they didn't die because of you. With demand and money to be earned, there will be people who do the dirty work for you.


Some points I was most affected by in the documentary:

  • the title of the documentary, Earthlings. It's a term that encompasses all living things on Earth, not just humans. It also refers to fish, reptiles, birds, amphibians, insects, mammals, vertebrates, invertebrates. Earthlings share the resources on Earth. But humans are dominating. And I totally agree with this. I've always thought that humans are animals too, but usually when people say "animals" they don't include humans in that term. We are not superior beings. We are equals.
  • Speciesism. It's the same concept as racism and sexism. All of these terms involve the strong bullying the weak. The principle of might is right. Nazis to Jews = White masters to Black slaves = humans to animals. Humans think of themselves as superior, so we treat animals like they belong to us, like objects. Their death is decided by us.
  • When there are too many stray pets, and the animal shelters are unable to accommodate more animals, the pets will be euthanised by getting injected with a drug. It's the most ethical method, but the drug is costly. So people had to resort to a less costly method: gas chambers. Does this sound familiar to you? This really shocked me after the documentary mentioned that humans are Nazis to animals. I still remember seeing photos with scratches on the gas chamber walls in the concentration camps as the Jews were desperate to escape the chamber as they slowly got poisoned to death. It's a slow and painful death.
  • It has been said that "if we had to kill our own meat, we would all be vegetarians". People hope that the meat they buy came from animals that died without pain, but they don't want to know the behind-the-scenes. They don't want to find out the truth. Those who make purchases requiring animals to be killed, do not deserve to be shielded from any aspect of the meat they buy.
  • Cows are branded with red-hot iron on their face. Animals also get their horns removed without anaesthesia. Horns aren't like hair. There is live bone inside. Just imagine someone breaking your bone. That is so bloody painful.
  • Milking cows are chained to the same spot all day long. Antibiotics and pesticides are used to increase production of milk. Eventually milking cows collapse from exhaustion. Normally cows can live up to 20 years. Milking cows generally die in 4. That's 20% of the normal lifespan. It is equivalent to a human who was expected to live until 80, but dies at 16. Not due to accidents, nor sickness, but because he was chained up and worked until death. Anyway, I don't think drinking milk is healthy, because looking at the horrible conditions they're in, the milk probably contains a huge ass load of antibiotics.
  • During transportation, cows suffer and are exhausted as they are loaded into small spaces, resulting in them piling on top of each other.
  • At the slaughterhouse, cows receive a captive bolt to the head, which is supposed to render them unconscious instantly. They then get their throats slit, and their blood drained, because the blood can also be sold. However, a lot of times, the cows are still conscious while these are going on.
  • Veal: baby cows are taken from their mothers within 2 days of birth, tied to restrain movement to prevent muscle development, and fed an iron deficient liquid diet. They're denied bedding, water and light. After 4 months of existing miserably, they are slaughtered.
  • Pigs live in such harsh conditions many of them have infections and abscesses. They get so stressed they attack each other (cannibalism). To prevent pigs from chewing on each other's tails, humans dock their tails without anaesthetic.
  • Pigs are shackled by chains, and held upside down. They are slaughtered by electrocution or throat slitting which remains the least costly. The pigs are very much alive and in pain while their blood spurts out of the wound. Many are still struggling while they are dunked in scalding water to make it easier to remove their bristles. They are submerged and drowned.
  • Chicks are debeaked to prevent cannibalism at a rate of 15 chickens per minute. Such haste means that the sharpness and temperature of the blade varies. As a result, it injures the birds badly. Although their beaks are severed, chickens still peck each other because of the horrible living conditions.
  • Hens are kept in battery cages. They develop sores and their feathers drop from friction with the wire cage. There is no space for them to spread their wings.
  • During transportation, chickens suffer, and many die from suffocation as they pile on top of each other.
  • Chickens and turkeys are slaughtered in many ways: stomped on my workers, clubbed to death, heads cut off. Most are hung upside down on a conveyor belt where their throats are slit, and they bleed to death.
  • If slaughterhouses had glass walls, we would all be vegetarians. But they don't. They're designed so that we won't see even if we wanted to.
  • Emerson: You have dined, and however scrupulously the slaughterhouse is concealed miles away, there is complicity. I.e. you are still an accomplice.

  • Seafood live in contaminated oceans because factories deemed the seabed to be a good place to dump waste. Honestly going vegan really goes hand in hand with protecting the environment.
  • Commercial fishing. Humans use trawlers the size of football fields and advanced electronic equipment to track and catch fish. These trawlers trap everything in their path. They're not selective, so endangered sea creatures also end up dying. Commercial fishing + humans' increasing appetite = emptying the sea of sea life at an alarming pace. 13 out of the 17 fishing reserves are already or severely depleted. The remaining 4 are also fully exploited. Note that this documentary was released in 2005, 12 years have passed, and the practices are still the same because of humans' gluttony for meat and greed for wealth. I think we can all guess what state the seas and the sea life are in.
  • Some waters in USA are literally unflushed toilets, full of sewage waste. There's a microorganism called Pfiesteria that killed lots of fishes. Its biohazard level? LEVEL 3. Ebola is a 4, and AIDS is a 2. Yep, it's more dangerous than AIDS. And the source of the waste? Humans' large consumption and therefore breeding of animals, esp. pork. Because we rear so many millions of pigs, we feed them so much grain, and out comes so much faeces.
  • Whaling. It's restricted in some countries, but in others, people continue killing them for their meat, using harpoons, firearms, blunt hooks and explosives. People even drove them towards authorised whaling bays so that they could beach and kill them. WTF.

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