When the intention of questioning our work regarding Eid is to justify other forms of cruelty to animals, such as chaining captive elephants or torturing bulls, there isn’t much to be said, because in those cases, the question isn’t coming from a place of genuine concern for animals. Similarly, sadly, and notably, many questioning our work don’t appear to be concerned about any other form of cruelty to animals besides Eid, which raises the issue of whether their focus on Eid has anything to do with animals at all. Individuals who question our work while continuing to eat meat must also engage in self-reflection, because goats and other animals are killed in slaughterhouses and at roadside markets every day, just as cruelly as the way in which they’re butchered on the streets for Eid – and we believe that all of these practices must end. And, last but not least, those questioning us should understand that our mandate is to work to stop all animal abuse, including, but not limited to, animal sacrifice for Eid.
Those who are genuinely interested in learning how we work to stop animal sacrifice for Eid, please read on.
PETA India is a vegan advocacy organisation every day of the year, not just on days that are observed as Muslim holidays. Our motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to eat” and “not ours to wear”. By encouraging vegan living, we help to stop the slaughter of animals for those purposes. To clarify, vegans are vegetarians who refrain from consuming any foods derived from animals, because, for example, the beef industry exists largely because the dairy industry supplies it with animals to kill.
Many Muslim vegetarians and vegans celebrate Eid without slaughtering animals, as shown in the video below, and we encourage everyone to do the same.
— PETA India (@PetaIndia) August 12, 2019
Our work doesn’t stop with persuading those who celebrate Eid to switch to giving alms of fruit or vegetables, because every person who consumes animal flesh or uses anything else that’s stolen from animals’ bodies, including milk and eggs, or wears their skin is responsible for their suffering and death.
Unfortunately, our campaigners have been beaten up and threatened with rape and worse for peacefully encouraging a humane celebration of Eid that doesn’t involve animal sacrifice. Our mere suggestion of giving alms without slaughter has resulted in us receiving death threats. However, this has not deterred us from working to save goats, camels, and other animals from sacrifice and from continuing our advocacy for all animals.
When PETA India and local activists rescued these camels from Eid sacrifice.
— PETA India (@PetaIndia) July 28, 2020
Sadly, our staff members have faced similar abuse and death threats from jallikattu supporters, but we remain determined to stop the cruelty endured by bulls used in that practice, too. Since Tamil Nadu’s state government legalised jallikattu in 2017, at least 22 bulls and 57 humans have been killed in these events.
Courts can only uphold India’s laws, not create them, so between 2004 and 2017, PETA India was part of a Supreme Court of India case opposing the illegal treatment of animals during transport and slaughter, which is common, including during animal sacrifice, and which we have extensively documented. This resulted in the 17 February 2017 order of the Supreme Court stating that the compendium of acts and rules prepared by the government of India must be complied with by the state governments and union territories. We regret that, like many laws, these remain largely unenforced.
We have also called on states to shut down illegal slaughterhouses. Under Indian law, licensed slaughterhouses are permitted to exist – but we hope one day they won’t be. Caring people can help us work towards that goal by not supporting industries that supply animals for slaughter – such as the dairy industry – and by not buying the “products” that come from slaughter, such as leather.
Enforcement of laws is key to curbing animal sacrifice. In two matters regarding the sacrifice and killing of animals for meat, the Supreme Court has ruled that animals can be slaughtered only in officially licensed slaughterhouses and that municipal authorities must ensure compliance with this ruling. Central government laws permit the slaughter of animals only in registered or licensed slaughterhouses equipped with species-specific stunning equipment. While the killing of camels for meat is prohibited in India, the practice is still prevalent during Eid, and laws related to transporting animals are frequently violated during the festival.
PETA India’s 2019 exposé in the lead up to Eid of the market adjacent to Mumbai’s Deonar slaughterhouse revealed what happens when transport laws are not enforced. Then, it was reported that more than 1.24 lakhs goats and sheep and about 2,700 buffaloes had arrived at Deonar from Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, and even as far away as Assam to be sold for sacrifice. Our documentation, which we publicized widely, shows dead and dying animals strewn across the premises after being transported in cruel conditions. As mandated by the 2017 order of the Supreme Court of India, laws regarding animal transport and slaughter form part of the compendium of acts and rules that must be complied with.
Each year, PETA India writes to all the states and union territories before Eid asking them to enforce laws that prohibit the cruel transport of animals and their slaughter outside licensed slaughterhouses and refers to this letter from the Animal Welfare Board of India that was sent to states and that also makes these laws clear.
We also work to empower the public to take action against animal sacrifice, to observe holidays without it by highlighting those who observe Eid in other ways – a group that is growing – and to choose vegan options when breaking fasts, including at Ramadan. Among other conversation-generating actions, we’ve held our own Eid celebration in which goats were the guests of honour. We’ve also joined hands with vegan actor Sadaa Sayed to distribute vegan biryani at Mumbai orphanages for Eid.
Earlier this year, PETA India placed billboards in numerous cities featuring a goat proclaiming, “I’m ME, Not Mutton. See the Individual. Go Vegan.” Goats are intelligent, playful, curious, and trusting, yet they’re often painfully lifted onto vehicles by their ears or skin for transport, crammed together in such high numbers that many suffocate and die, and killed in full view of one another. During Eid, these animals are butchered on the street.
AnimalsInIslam.com is an excellent resource that our affiliate PETA US created in order to help Muslims connect with others in their own community who don’t engage in sacrifice and who want to encourage kindness to animals in their communities through Islamic teachings on compassion. The idea for the website originated with mixed marriage couples – where one spouse is Muslim – trying to weave a mutually acceptable path to kindness.
PETA India doesn’t have a magic wand, but our emergency response team is on call 24/7, including during Eid, fielding calls about egregious cruelty and taking action against it whenever possible.
And we have a question for those who speak up for animals only on Eid: Where are you the rest of the year, when we’re working to save animals’ lives? We need you. If you care, please help us, every day.