Esther’s Blog: Watch us fight, watch us win

4 February 2020

Once again, horrific footage from Dutch slaughterhouses was posted last week. The footage shows pigs that are being beaten, crippled pigs that are pulled by their tails, and sick animals that are chased. Previously, we also watched pigs being cooked alive in slaughterhouses. This also happens to pigs from an organic company.

Vets of the Dutch Consumer Product Safety Authority (NVWA) - the supervisory institute which has the statutory task to protect animals - stood beside them and did nothing. One vet hit the animals. Previous research showed that NVWA vets refuse to intervene or fine in situations of abuse, but NVWA vets hitting animals is a new low point.

I reprimanded the Minister of Agriculture. With 642 million of animals that are slaughtered each year, it is impossible to prevent serious abuse in the field of animal welfare and hygiene. The number of animals in the livestock industry should at least be halved in the long run. Last week, the Minister of Agriculture finally said that she wants to solve the issue of enforcement in a more fundamental way by lowering the daily number of animals chased through slaughterhouses. An important step.

Sickening trade and industry

The meat industry is not just sick in itself, but it is actually making all of us sick. The Dutch livestock industry keeps the largest number of animals per surface in the world. These animals often live jammed together. Their high stress and low resistance make them sick. Sick animals and zoonosis - and infectious diseases that can pass from animals to humans - are a serious risk to public health. Five million pigs in the Netherlands, for example, carry the Hepatitis E virus. There is almost nowhere else in the world where so many pigs are kept in such a small space. Nor is there anywhere else in the world where more people carry the Hepatitis E virus than here.

We now see the coronavirus in China. If we fail to end the large-scale trade and consumption of animals, pathogens will continue to crop up. The SARS pandemic in 2003, for example, was also of animal origin. The legal and illegal trade in wild animals is a high risk of contagion. For that reason, we called on the Dutch government to completely ban the import and trade of wild animals.

Meanwhile, the European Union wants to negotiate large-scale free trade deals with countries where animal welfare is trampled underfoot: Thailand, United States, Canada and Brazil. That means that it will become even easier and cheaper to transport products made at the expense of animals and human rights to Europe.

During the debate on trade, I had one fundamental question for the Dutch Minister: When will the Minister finally make vulnerable values (animals, nature, human rights, environment) more important than hard, aggressive, neo-liberal trade?

Now is the time.

Turning point

Last time, I wrote that this is a decisive decade. More and more people are seeing through the myths that livestock farming, supermarkets, and the government have told us. Their power is crumbling. More and more people dare to listen to their hearts and help others become aware. In the European Parliament, the Party for the Animals has gotten more and more politicians to join them in the fight against animal suffering.

The changing tide that we now see have been hard-won, thanks in large part to brave citizens. But existing systems and existing interests will do everything they can to stay alive. More than ever, the Party for the Animals is very much needed to ensure that the change continues and that the measures that are now being taken by governments do not consist of cheap greenwashing and animal welfare washing.

That is why I have decided to run as a candidate for the party leader for the Party for the Animals for the next parliamentary elections.

That is why I am happy to see that more and more people who want to protect animals and our planet are going into politics. The young vegan and queer activist Jabari Brisport is a wonderful example of this. He has stood for election to the Senate of New York and he argues for better protection of vulnerable groups, animals, nature, and the environment. We really need these people in politics.

Jabari Brisport, vegan candidate for the elections in New York.

What exemplifies this time is a video of a 13-year-old girl in Australia who took to the streets to literally fight for her future. Instead of the government taking her interests and those of her generation seriously and protecting them, her government directed the police at her. The girl was told that if she did not leave, she would be taken away by force if necessary. The girl shivered in front of the officers. She listened and walked away. But as she walked away she lifted her sign and it said:

"Look at what you have left us. Watch us fight it. Watch us win."

We are that girl.

If the laws do not protect our planet and all its inhabitants, we will change them together. If the government does not comply with the law, we will replace it.

Until next time!


(Parliamentary leader Party for the Animals)