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Will it offend you if we ask you to kill your pet dog or cat and eat it, just for the sake of taste? If yes, then how come we are supporting violence and torture in case of other animals?

Life Beyond Numbers spoke to compassionate 36-year-old Shweta Savla, founder of Jain Vegan Revolution and co-founder of United for Compassion and UFC activism, who is a staunch supporter of cruelty-free food. “We are so sensitive about human rights, but what about animal rights? Through meat, we are also consuming pain, hatred, fear, and suffering, and at the end of the day, we all want peace. That is just not possible,” she tells us.

Shweta Savla

A native of Mumbai’s Parel, Shweta took the help of social media to reach out to people. “We used to go out on the streets with our laptops and educate people about animal cruelty,” she mentioned. Not just that, she, with the immense support of her team, also give speeches and lectures to school and college students regarding this issue.

How United For Compassion started?

Three years back, along with her team, Shweta started by creating awareness video series on dairy cruelty, which marks the beginning of her journey. “In Jain culture, most people consume a lot of dairy products. People were not aware that there was so much cruelty involved in this case as well. This was a breakthrough for us and people started noticing what was wrong with consuming dairy products. This is how we started the UFC activist group also.”

Started with just 5 activists, in the beginning, now UFC has over 130 activists who are selflessly and willingly volunteering to ensure that you grab a plate of food that is cruelty-free.

Animals live short and brutal lives

Chickens are arguably the most abused animals on the planet. In the United States, approximately 9 billion chickens are killed for their flesh each year, and 305 million hens are used for their eggs, mentioned a recent PETA report.

We need to understand that a hen is not an egg machine or a cow or a buffalo are not milk machines or meat machines for that matter.

When we consume animal flesh just for the sake of taste, we don’t realize that they are either tortured or abused and then killed before, you get it on your plate. We cannot think of living this kind of life for even a single moment, then why are we treating another being that has emotions like this?”

On asking what prompted her to take this issue, Shweta narrates to LBN, “I have been an animal lover all my life and have been raised with a pet dog in the family. So, rescuing animals is something that came naturally to me. I never had non-veg food in my life, but because of belonging from a Jain community, I was addicted to dairy and 50-70% of my food was dairy products. But, when I came to know that cows are tortured because of this, I had to eventually quit. And learning more and more about the animal abuse helped to counter my habit of consuming dairy.”

Can we have Mock Meat instead of Animal Flesh?

“We used to organize potlucks in the nearby areas and invite non-vegetarians who wanted to go vegan, but were not aware of how to go forward and therefore, we started to invite them to a community gathering where we asked to try food that is loaded with vegan cheese, curd and also mock meat– fish, chicken and so on. All the food had similar tastes, but they were cruelty-free. And in no time, many people were hooked to this idea,” shared Shweta.

Adding to this she further mentioned, “I believe the biggest lie in the human history told by some people and doctors, in particular, is that “Humans cannot survive without animal protein”. If that was the case, how do you think a gigantic animal like elephants gets protein from? Plants have the capacity to make proteins and to sum it up they have every nutrient you want. Many researchers and doctors also now agree with the fact that if you really want to be healthy, then one has to go vegan. We are not lions, but humans, so our body is not designed to eat meat.”

We humans have conditioning so deep that we believe with all our heart that living without killing animals is simply not possible. It might take some time to come out of it, but if we try harder, the whole idea of having animal flesh as food might change.

Do adults teach children how to eat hate?

Humans are by default compassionate from childhood. “Every child knows what is love, then why are we adults teaching them to eat hate? If an animal is dying in front of you there is no way it will make you happy. You will never think ‘Oh wow, he is dying, let’s grab it, cook it, and eat it’. That’s understood in case of lions and tigers or any other carnivorous animal,” said Shweta.

A child loves to play with a goat. She doesn’t plan to kill it or eat it but if you place an apple instead, she would want to eat it. It is as simple as that. This is the most natural instinct in the case of humans. “This is high time we should understand that our food habits are having a very deep impact on climate change and take an alternate route when it comes to food.”

A global switch to diets that rely less on meat and more on fruit and vegetables could save up to 8 million lives by 2050, reduce greenhouse gas emissions by two thirds, and lead to healthcare-related savings and avoided climate damages of $1.5 trillion (US), a study done by researchers at the Oxford Martin School concluded.

“Some humans are basically selfish, only when they find out their health is getting affected by such diet, they become vegan,” said Shweta with a laugh. “But, we have to also consider the fact that most of them are now vegans because of animal cruelty reasons.”

We grow food to feed the animals and then kill them to feed ourselves? We all are different, even as humans, but when it comes to suffering, we all have a fair idea of how pain feels like. Same goes for animals. Can’t we control what we eat?

So, what does it take away from humans to be kind to animals? Nothing and it’s enough, to begin with, don’t you think?