Esther’s blog: entering summer in a hopeful and fighting spirit

21 July 2021

In my last blog, I wrote about great news for animals, humans and the planet. In the Netherlands, we are headed into the summer recess, and luckily I can end this parliamentary year with even more good news! And with some tasty food as well, since there was a delicious plant-based, animal-friendly barbecue at the doorstep of the Dutch House of Representatives. Better for us humans as well as animals and the planet!

At the same time, there are some worrying developments that show how important it is that we continue fighting worldwide against governments and companies that threaten our future.

Esther at the yearly animal-friendly barbecue.

The good news
Let’s start with the good news! On the last night before the summer recess, the House of Representatives passed multiple proposals submitted by the Party for the Animals that will lessen the suffering of animals in the animal industry. A majority supported our motion to forbid animal transports when temperatures rise above 30 °C. Heat causes a lot of animal suffering, and many animals even die from the heat during transport. Besides this, a proposal was passed that outlaws herding equipment that causes pain and stress to animals, such as tasers, in slaughterhouses.

A proposal to prevent disease and death amongst bucks, young male goats, was adopted as well. Bucks are seen as disposable items in the goat milk industry: farmers cannot milk them or monetize them, which is why they are taken from their mothers straight after birth and slaughtered within 5 to 6 weeks. Many bucks don’t even live for that long: between 20 to 66% of these young bucks grow severely ill and die before that time. The minister for agriculture now has to get to work to change this.

It is also a good time to reflect on the end of mink farming in the Netherlands, a success that was achieved a year ago by the Party for the Animals. If this ban had not been adopted, there would be five million mink in cages right now waiting to be gassed in autumn. Luckily this cruel industry is being banned in more and more countries: in June, Estonia decided to ban mink farming and now Ireland has also decided to close the industry for good later this year. We are moving towards an end of the fur industry, everywhere!

Demonstration in Brussels against keeping animals in cages.

Thanks to many citizens, NGOs, and our MEP Anja Hazekamp, the European Union will also free animals from their cages. This month, the European Commission announced an upcoming legal ban on keeping farm animals in cages. That means that hundreds of millions of pigs, calves, rabbits, chickens, quails, ducks, and geese in the European animal industry will no longer be allowed to be kept in cages. I am proud of everyone who has pushed for this cause! The Party for the Animals will keep fighting until every cage is empty around the world; with the animal industry as a whole as the biggest cage that we have to get rid of as soon as possible.

More and more people refuse to accept the horrors inflicted upon animals. This growing awareness is in part thanks to photographers such as Jo-Anne McArthur, my personal hero. She is a photographer for the animals and captures the horrific conditions in which animals find themselves. After all, the animal industry continues to exist by the grace of concealment. It is crucial that it is brought into the light, so that the awareness of what is being done to animals for meat, fish, dairy, eggs, and other animal products will continue to grow. Such an important and difficult job! Jo-Anne inspires us all to continue putting our best foot forward for the animals. As such, it was a huge honour to have the chance to speak with her during the party conference of the Party for the Animals.

If you would like to see a short film about her important work, you can watch Moving Animals.

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Photographer Jo-Anne McArthur during the party conference of the Party for the Animals.

There’s a world to be won
Next to all this good news, we are also headed into the summer with an even bigger sense of urgency.

Last month, an important report from international climate scientists of the IPCC climate panel was leaked. Its conclusion? Countries are still doing far too little to prevent an all-out climate disaster. Food production is becoming unstable, which will lead to more famines. Drought, floods, and superstorms are what awaits us. They are already a devastating reality for many people, especially in vulnerable countries.

But rich countries are beginning to feel the effects of climate change as well. The Canadian village of Lytton broke all heat records this month and has now been completely devastated by wildfires. People had to flee for their lives. Life-threatening heat waves in the United States forced people to take shelter in cooling centres - centres that further exacerbate the problem. The climate crisis is escalating right in front of our eyes and our governments continue to facilitate polluting companies.

While the Gulf of Mexico was recently literally on fire because of a gas leak, investments into fossil fuels continue to be high. And while all scientists point out that we have to radically change our agricultural system and substitute meat and dairy by plant-based alternatives to keep our planet liveable, the European Union opts for a disastrous agricultural policy for both animals and humans.

As Greta Thunberg said: “The worst is the politicians who say they are working on climate change, while at the same time nothing is really happening. Because then it seems like something is changing.”

We will use this summer to recharge, only to fight for real change more powerful than ever afterwards. Together with many amazing people around the world.

I hope you have a pleasant summer! I will be back with a new blog in August.

Esther Ouwehand
Party leader of the Dutch Party for the Animals