Smack it hit me. In the face at about 4am as these things tend to do. I have wanted to be, strived for, trained to be and practised as a vet for 20 years of my life. A vet helps animals. A vet is The One who cares about upholding animal health and welfare.
As much as I still very respect the job, its place and how it helps in the world, my experiences up until now lead me to question - what is the bones of animal welfare? Is it anything that clinical treatment/standard veterinary work can really resolve?
My opinion on the factors of connecting animal welfare to human welfare to the environment is as follows:
- Calm, vigilant care
- Disease prevention
(writing at 4am with several cups of coffee does tend to result in bullet point thinking)
So on the last point, veterinary training does help of course. But how much disease can be generally prevented by the basics. Now, whilst I already registered that this was the case, what is my role in this towards contributing to any change? Any Real Impact?
If I have learned anything in my time in San Sebastian it has been the following:
1) You get nowhere with the animals without the people. Absolutely nowhere
2) Things which I might consider basic haven't remotely entered the heads of local rural people. Due to lack of education and opportunity. They are Not stupid.
3) The most fruitful conversations and moments of real sharing I have had in my time here and in other places has been over aspects of life that are generally in common - sowing seeds for food, making a living on the street to survive, money matters, family.
4) I can treat pigs, cut donkeys feet and sterilise dogs (ALL valuable to me) for the rest of my life and probably build a reputation as a good vet, but would that plus workshops actually achieve anything profound in terms of sustainable change of mentality and improvement of life standards?
5) People are people. Complicated. Proud. Slow to change. Ritualistic. Long suffering at times. Vulnerable. Often looking to exert their pain on other vulnerable beings to feel better. But often the solution could be so simple. Why on earth should they believe what I say about animal rearing in workshops when they haven't seen me rear any?
6) Actions speak FAR louder than words. Especially in a functional rural community.
7) Trust is earnt. Not just by a name or workshops or even complex clinical work. But by something shared.
So, after several large blows to the heart and the ego, followed by a pick up and a dust off, my true path becomes more and more clear. It has been a real challenge to my vegan soul to develop this thought, but my experience has shown me that this could be the only viable way. No matter what my ideals are, people will keep raising/farming/exploiting animals. Perhaps the only way no matter what my ideals say is to fully accept this and work to improve it. Realism meets idealism head on.
Start an organic demonstration farm of crops and animals . Become as one of the local people. With a difference. Work really hard towards producing optimal standards in all senses. A well thought through, local diet. Well designed, affordable housing with natural materials. Well chosen animals. And above all, well chosen, dedicated, focused people to carry out the venture with. Establish said farm and use products to survive, just like local people. Host workshops/children's education etc from the farm base but the trick is Lead By Example. My new favourite philosophy for the next decade. Really.
Posted by Anisha Aiyappa.