Esther’s blog: Exciting elections and coura­geous people

5 מרץ 2021

We’re in the middle of the election campaign! Between the 15th and 17th of March, Dutch people can vote for the House of Representatives. Together with the team of the Party for the Animals, we are spending this campaign by talking about the beautiful ideas that our party has to make the world a greener, more honest and more animal friendly place. You can read a summary of our plans here in thirteen (!) languages! Should you want to know more, you can read our entire election programme “Plan B - Idealism is the new Realism” in English here. If you know anyone who is eligible to vote in the Netherlands, please send them the link to our Plan B!

I am very proud of all our volunteers putting up election posters, organising events, and doing everything in their power to get as many people as possible to vote for the Party for the Animals. Teamwork!

And look at our beautiful, all-electric Party for the Animals van! I am using this to travel across the entire country during the campaign. Isn’t it great?

The all-electric campaign van of the Party for the Animals.

Our message to voters: these coming elections are the chance of your life. Scientists give us ten years, at most, to prevent catastrophic climate damage. The British newspaper The Guardian has calculated that if the temperature on earth rises by 2 to 3 degrees it would cost 25,000 billion euros worldwide. So even economically, it is a lot smarter to show courage and take the necessary measures now, rather than later. And that is exactly what the Party for the Animals fights for.

Abolishing industrial farming is of vital importance
The horrible effects of the COVID-19 pandemic are still all around us. In my recently published book “Dieren kunnen de pest krijgen. En dan?”, which will soon be available in English, I explain how we can prevent such pandemics from happening in the future. The book follows what virologists have been saying for years: the two big risk factors for pandemics such as COVID-19 are industrial livestock farming and the destruction of nature. Both find their origins in the same paradigm: humans forget that they are a part of nature, not rulers that can treat all other species on earth any way they want to.

According to virologists, there is a large chance that our industrial livestock farms will cause a new pandemic. In the Netherlands, a bird flu virus keeps circulating on poultry farms. The bird flu is only a few steps away from mutating into a virus that can be transmitted from birds to animals. Last week, it was announced that this dangerous bird flu has already made the jump to humans in Russia. When a virus like this starts being transmissible from humans to other humans, a new pandemic would quickly become a fact. That is what happened with the new coronavirus. Even though an epidemic bird flu would pose a huge risk to our health, the Netherlands still actively helps other countries to develop industrial livestock farms. All the way from Russia to Morocco. That has to stop.

Esther putting up election posters together with some volunteers.

Only drastically reducing the number of animals in our livestock industry can protect our public health, nature and climate. Two thirds of all land area in the Netherlands is currently used for agriculture. The majority of that is used for livestock farming. If we were to breed 75 percent fewer animals, at least 10 percent of our total land area would become available. We want to give 90 percent of that freed up land back to nature, to restore our biodiversity. The remaining land can then be used to build sustainable homes for all those who cannot find a home now. That way, everybody wins: animals, humans, and our planet.

The contraction of the livestock sector results in fewer societal costs in the end as well. The livestock industry causes 6,4 billion euros in social costs in the Netherlands each year. Every euro that the Dutch pork production generates is accompanied by €4.59 in social costs that are passed on to the rest of the world population. Irresponsible.

Luckily more and more political parties agree with our proposals to restrain industrial livestock farming.

Positive change requires courage

Esther Ouwehand and cow Hermien, saved from slaughter by the Party for the Animals.

When I was sixteen years old, I saw a television programme about animal transports. I saw how cows that could no longer stand on their own feet were kicked into a truck nonetheless, on their way to the slaughterhouse. I quit eating animals at that point. Us humans are very talented in hiding from the painful reality. In fact, it requires courage to acknowledge reality and to choose to change your behaviour. After seeing those images I could not hide any longer. I did not want to be a part of that cruel system.

I am currently 44 years of age, and unfortunately these horrific animal transports still take place. The most recent example: two ships carrying almost 3000 cows that were supposed to be exported to the Middle East have been stuck at sea for over two months. One of the ships is near a harbour in Cyprus and the other is near Spain. The umpteenth disaster that causes animals to go through hell.

Luckily, some important things have changed since I was 16. The Party for the Animals is now represented at all political levels in The Netherlands, and together with our 19 sister parties we are working together around the world for positive change. Our MEP Anja Hazekamp has submitted urgent questions demanding that the European Commission gives these cows the medical care they need as soon as possible. In a letter to European Commissioner Kyriakides, she has pushed for a complete ban on exporting live animals to countries outside the European Union once again. Besides this, our sister party Animal Party Cyprus has asked the Cypriotic government to take action.

Thanks to our efforts, a European inquiry committee on animal transports was finally established in 2020. Hopefully this will be the beginning of the end of the horrible suffering of the millions of animals that are transported alive each day.

Some good news from Australia to finish with! Breeding dolphins for dolphin amusement parks, or rather abuse-ment parks, will be banned in the state of New South Wales. Partly thanks to the efforts of our sister party Animal Justice Party, dolphins will never have to suffer in tiny pools and be forced to perform tricks for human entertainment ever again. Of the six Australian states, now only one remains in which dolphin abuse-ment parks are allowed, Queensland. One more step on the road towards freedom for all animals!

Till the end of March!

Esther Ouwehand