We’ve seen some of our friends posting cheerful pictures and updates on social media from the Kentucky Derby, which is taking place today. For those who are not familiar, the Kentucky Derby is a horse race – supposedly the largest in the world – where spectators bet millions of dollars on which horse (and jockey) will get to the finish line first.
It sounds harmless enough, but, of course, using animals for entertainment (or for any other purpose) is never really “harmless”. Injuries are abound, often fatal to the animals, in both the races and in training. The racehorse pictured in the right-hand photo apparently died at the age of three, having received this severe head injury that sliced through his right eye. He was reportedly discarded after his injury at a “horse lot” where he was eventually euthanized while still wearing his racing plates.
Performance enhancing drugs are often used as well. While this is highly troubling in its own right, the drugs may be the least of the racehorses’ problems, since many of them (especially the ones who are not winners) are often sent to the slaughterhouse, where they are usually shot with a captive bolt in the head (to supposedly render them unconscious before the slaughter – but, of course, like many other animals killed in slaughterhouses, they often try frantically to avoid being shot with the bolt gun, and many are still alive and conscious when they go through the slaughter process).
Do we really need to do any of this to other animals?
Obviously, not. But, the fact that so many friends and family – who we know to be genuinely good people – still think it’s so much fun to go to these events, and that it’s otherwise okay to consume animal foods, wear animal skins and the like, speaks to a larger issue: exploiting, harming and killing animals unnecessarily is ubiquitous and deeply normalized in our society.
But, regardless of how normalized it might be, our use of animals (be it for entertainment, food, clothing, or other unnecessary purposes) involves imposing immense and avoidable suffering and terror on billions of vulnerable animals.
Please do not support animal exploitation by living vegan, and please do whatever you can to help raise awareness of these issues.