Yesterday, animal lovers across Malta, celebrated a small victory. Every year, during the Feast of St. Lawrence in Birgu, six budgies used to be put in a ball and then released through a firework contraption into the streets. Even if they survived the chaos, the explosion and the smoke, budgies are not native to Malta and do not survive in the wild, so once released they faced an almost certain slow and cruel death.
After being alerted to this so called tradition by this website, yesterday the authorities stopped this practice once and for all, and instead of budgies, domestic homing pigeons were released from a separate box.
Six budgies might not seem like much of a save, but to animal lovers who, have pledged not to look away from animal cruelty, it’s a big thing, and to the budgies that were spared, it’s everything.
But then a pig had to get into it
Soon after the good news was announced on The Times of Malta (see story here), Festa enthusiasts from Vittoriosa, took to Facebook accusing me of being a hypocrite (amongst other flowery adjectives that cannot be repeated).
You see, as a digital marketer by profession, I manage hundreds of Facebook Pages and websites for different clients. Up to a few months ago, one of them used to be Diar il-Bniet – a family run Maltese restaurant that serves typical Maltese food, including Hog Roast and other meat dishes.
These festa enthusiasts deemed, that despite not eating meat myself, managing Diar il-Bniet’s Facebook page, whilst at the same time fighting tooth and nail to save six budgies, is hypocritical.
And I agree – it is hypocritical. It is as hypocritical as eating meat whilst donating to a dog sanctuary, as hypocritical as buying a wild parrot whilst protesting against dog fighting, or being vegetarian whilst wearing leather shoes.
Truth is, life is full of hypocrisies and if we had to take a cause and tried to be 100% true to it, none of us would manage, let alone succeed.
We’re all hypocrites and it’s ok
It’s only been a year since I’ve stopped eating meat entirely but before that I still did everything I could to help stray dogs, cats, birds and anything that crossed my path. But how could I claim to love animals whilst I was still eating them? Why did I love dogs but ate pigs? Why did I care for stray cats and ate rabbit?
It took me years, but finally I could not live with the dissonance any longer so I aligned my actions to my values and stopped eating meat all together. But for other animal lovers it might not yet be the right time, or even a future possibility.
So, should non-vegetarians stop donating to animal sanctuaries?
Should they stop saving strays from our streets?
Should they even stop tending to their own pets?
Should the village butcher stop feeding the neighbourhood cat?
And should all animal lovers stop working for restaurants, hotels, airlines, airports, households, and corporations that serve meat?
Of course not.
Animal cruelty is real and pervasive and we should not let our hypocrisies stop us from doing the bits that we can and are willing to do.
If you can go vegan, not wear leather, only own rescued animals and not have anything to do with anyone or any business that somehow contributes to the chain of animal cruelty, then good for you. But it’s unlikely that any of us, including myself, will ever get to that point. But that will not stop me, I will still keep doing everything in my power to reduce animal cruelty and neglect. If that makes me a hypocrite, then so be it. In fact, from now on, I’ll wear that title with pride.