Monday, July 15, 2024

I am grateful to celebrities who speak up for animals- Donny Moss, American journalist and activist (Exclusive interview)

Written and edited by – Robin Bhuyan 

Interviewed by – Robin Tyagi 

Donny Moss is an animal rights activist from America who has been working tirelessly for the rights our voiceless friends for years. Also a journalist, Donny Moss is the founder of Theirturn.net, an online magazine that focuses on stories related to animal rights. Join us in an exclusive interview with Mr Moss, where we talk about his journey, as well as the scenario of animal rights in the US as well as in India.

First of all, we would like to ask you – What was it that got you interested in animal rights?

For me, this began in the year 2004, when I came across when a Vegfest. I walked around it, and decided to take a DVD home with me, named ‘Meet Your Meat’. It was a documentary narrated by prominent American actor Alec Baldwin. The video was about what happens in factory farms and slaughterhouses. This stunned me, since I considered myself an animal lover, and I had no idea to what happens to these animals- how they were brutally slaughtered and mutilated. Thus, when I made the connection, and decided not just to give up meat, but also advocate for animal rights.

Today, more and more celebrities can be seen turning vegan. How do you think this impacts the animal rights movement? Does it make things better for you?

Few years ago, the American actor Joaquin Phoenix won an Oscar, and at the award ceremony, and he used his time and opportunity to talk about the plight of diary cows. This was extensively covered in the news media the next day, and we can hope that some among the thousands of people who heard him, decided to make a change. So I am very grateful to celebrities who use their platforms to promote animal rights. We have a lot of them, but of course, we could use more!

Today, many young people want to go vegan or vegetarian. But their families don’t support them. How should they deal with this?

This is a big problem which we hear about all the time. When Greta Thunberg was here for a climate march, I was interviewing several students about what they were doing to contribute to the environment. Some of them did say that they have started giving up meat, but some of them stated that their parents would not support their choices. But although this can be a problem, once these kids start going to college, they can make their own choices.

We would want to talk about a sensitive issue. What are your thoughts regarding animal sacrifice in religion. And how can we stop it?

Yes, the idea of sacrificing animals is horrendous. No god would ever want us to kill his/her creatures! In New York, a Jewish ritual named Kapparot takes place named Kapparot where a chicken is brutally slaughtered on the streets. There is blood all over the streets, which makes it a public health issue as well! On top of that, the animals suffer extreme torture, as they have to be put in crates for days, without food, water or veterinary care. The Department of Health has also decided to turn a blind eye, due to political reasons. We have tried our best to bring light on this issue, yet it is very difficult to convince people regarding this issue, because when people believe their god asked them to do something, they are quite determined.

What are your thoughts regarding PETA and their work in India?

I think some of their work is quite commendable. I was in Delhi around a decade ago, and I saw the condition of horses who were used to draw carriages. I was glad to see PETA’s actions on this issue.

Do you think promoting animal rights in developing countries is practical, because people have a lot of problems of their own?

Compassion can be infinite. We can care about humans as well as non-human animals at the same time. Being kind is so easy for us. I see people all over the world, even where there is a lot of poverty, caring for animals. Obviously for us, the job has become much easier in developed countries such as the US, where we have freedom of speech as well as immense resources. We also do our best to help those in developing countries, who don’t have that many resources.

We are surrounded by propaganda that try to make us eat meat and all forms of unhealthy foods. How do we counter this kind of propaganda?

Yes, everywhere, including social media, we are bombarded with such advertisements. But thankfully, social media gives us a platform to express our voices and reach more people about this.

Do you think more people are nowadays gaining interest in veganism/vegetarianism and animal rights?

Yes, when I walk into a grocery store, I see an enormous difference. This is incredible, because earlier we did not have so many options – even five years ago! But today so many plant-based products are filled in all the shelves, which makes me realize that more and more people are shifting their lifestyles.

People in India are quite habituated to drinking milk and taking milk products. How do you think this can be addressed?

Well, today, there are so many plant-based alternatives for almost every product. This is a problem that exist in all cultures, but if people are willing to look into alternatives, such as almond milk, this problem can be easily addressed.

What is your opinion on mob lynching for cow protection, which occurs frequently in India?

Yes, I know the cow is considered a holy animal in Indian culture, so that is something we never see here in our country. But I think that there are several problems that cows suffer from. When I was in India, I saw many cows living on the streets, eating junk such as plastic scraps. This is an irony, because since they are considered holy, they should be properly taken care of, and be taken to a sanctuary.

We thank you for your time. It was great conversing with you!

Thank you! I hope more and more people are inspired to choose the path of compassion, through this interview! For Indian activists who would want to connect with us, you can find us at Theirturn.net

 

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