Mediaplanet spoke with Canadian singer-songwriter, actress, and animal rights activist Jann Arden to learn about why she’s so passionate about animal welfare and her latest advocacy campaign, #HORSESHIT.
Why do you think that animal health and welfare needs to be a broader conversation?
We’re seeing more and more viruses that are jumping from animals to humans — SARS, MERS, and COVID-19 are just the beginning of what could be in store for the planet if we don’t take a much more humane and compassionate look at what we’re doing to the animals that share this planet with us. If we plan on continuing to consume them, there needs to be drastic changes in how they’re housed, transported, and respected by society overall.
Industrial animal farming has had catastrophic consequences for the Earth and every living thing on it. Millions of animals are inhumanely shipped across oceans, from one continent to another — often for trips taking weeks at a time and under horrific conditions. Countless deaths are considered to be an acceptable loss and are expected.
The dairy industry in particular, is finally, and rightfully, seeing its practices examined with much more scrutiny. In Canada alone, 200,000 dairy cows are culled each year under very mysterious circumstances. These numbers were slightly higher in 2020 because of COVID-19. These 200,000 dairy cows end up in the beef circuit, consumed entirely by unsuspecting people who have no idea where their steak came from.
We’re doing a terrible job of caring for animals, both domestic and wild. Meat has got to go or at the very least, be completely overhauled. Big corporate slaughterhouses are breeding grounds for disease, not to mention the serious mental health consequences for the workers, who are largely made up of immigrants.
Within animal health and welfare, what’s a specific topic that you’re passionate about?
I’ve been working this past year on stopping live horse exports. Thousands of large draft horses, bred specifically for human consumption in foreign markets, are flown in wooden crates four at a time for almost two days of travel to be eaten as raw sushi meat. These majestic horses spend their entire pathetic lives in giant feed lots, walking around in their own feces, not monitored by any sort of regular health care whatsoever. This is all done very clandestinely for a very good reason. The people that have been quietly making millions of dollars a year simply don’t want us to know what they’re doing and how they’re doing it.
Our #HORSESHIT campaign was recently featured on W5 and has garnered outrage across the country. The horses, who are flight animals and very jittery by nature, face untold horrors in their small crates — turbulence on the large aircrafts and no food, water, headroom, or compassion during their travels.
Why we’re shipping these horses a world away to feed a very wealthy population (as the raw horse sushi is incredibly expensive by the time it hits the plate), I will never understand. It’s wrong on every imaginable level and has to stop. This industry consisting of a lot of pain and suffering makes a small handful of people wealthy. It doesn’t feed Canadians, employ Canadians, or bring anything of value or respect to Canadian agriculture. It’s cruel, unnecessary, humiliating, and terrifying.
When and why did you become a vocal advocate for animal welfare?
The last 15 years have brought many changes to my life. The older I get, the more I realize that everything wants to live. I’ll spend the rest of my life advocating, especially for the animals that human beings have chosen to terrorize and consume. Industrial farming is hell on earth for every single animal caught up in this repugnant system.
What’s one thing you think Canadians can do to help improve animal health and welfare?
Eat less meat!