I had decided to spend Valentine’s Day on a so-called life court, a place where living beings that are no longer useful from the point of view of the industry can live happily, a place of peace and lived love, which is the focus of this day stands. Of course, if you live love, you live it every day, but it’s probably an occasion to reflect on it a little. What is love? Isn’t it the kindness that leads us to look out for one another, to support one another, to be there for one another, and to be free to live simply?
I sit in the meadow and watch these wonderful creatures, each unique, who found shelter and a home and peace here. No one will exploit them anymore, cradle them in a very small space and finally kill them cruelly. The people who take care of them here have earned their trust. And they show how happy and full of life they are, no matter what terrible things they had to go through before. They embrace their new, real lives without even thinking back.
„I love animals“, I’ve heard so many times from people while they bite into their meat loaf rolls. „Is that in your roll too?“ I then asked. When they say they love animals, they mean it honestly, but by „animals“ they don’t mean all of them, they think of the dog that gets pampered at home, the cat that lolls on the couch in the sun, to the hamster happily jumping, in short, to all the animals that we call pets. But a pig is not a pet. That falls out of loving because it’s a special kind of animal. It is a so-called farm animal. No, this is not a biological category, nor is it scientific in any other way, but a workable classification to know immediately who we love and who we don’t love, which animals are considered normal for us to take away from them everything they have, ultimately also her life. „After all, that’s what they’re there for,“ they say, as if it were their purpose to serve people.
Fridolin, a half-grown boar, digs in the ground in front of me, runs around and enjoys his life. Before that, in his previous life, he sat in a small dungeon, day in, day out. A few meters away, the sows were stuck in the lattice cages while the babies lay next to them and could only drink from her. What does that have to do with love if I manage to let sentient beings vegetate their whole short life on concrete columns over their own excrement in a confined space, watch them being sick and ignore their suffering?
Then I feel someone nudge me. Martha, the cow that was once exploited in the dairy industry, snuck up on me. She was allowed to give birth to her last calf here, where nobody would think of taking her baby away from her. But we call it love when we allow babies to walk away from their mothers as soon as they are born because they want the milk that is meant for them. It’s good for them, this milk. It helps them grow big and strong. It makes us sick, but we refuse to stop exploiting them, forcing every last drop out of them. At what point did we lose our heart that would tell us a baby belongs with its mother and I have no right to separate the two?
Next to Martha, Susi scratches the ground like chickens do. When she came to the farm, she had hardly any feathers left on her body. She came from the so-called floor husbandry, a supposedly good form of husbandry. Yet it’s cramped and noisy and stuffy, only there are no more cages just to force them to lay eggs day after day which we then take away from them. Their bodies become emaciated, their bones brittle and in less than a year they are ready for the soup pot. They’ve been broken. Martha, now in her beautiful plumage again, comes to me. I’m thinking of a children’s birthday party. The parents were anxious to bring the children closer to the love for animals by getting to know them. Feathered creatures ran around between the little people. „They’re so sweet,“ said one boy before sitting down at the table and tucking into the chicken that was being grilled next door. How far are we from love if we can pet one chicken and eat the other?
“We love animals!” many of us say and slaughter them without batting an eyelid. Not just cows, chickens and pigs, but also rabbits, geese, ducks, foxes, deer, fish, mink, sharks, elephants, bears and many more. Maybe it’s time to get serious about love, on Valentine’s Day and every other day, serious about a love that is protective. let live, free and happy.