OPINION: Case of West Ham player Kurt Zouma's cats and Panorama's ‘The Life of Cows’ leave vegans frustrated

There has been a lot of controversy recently about two animal-related issues in the news.
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One is the horrendous video of West Ham footballer Kurt Zouma deliberately abusing one of his cats.

The other is the outcry following the Panorama expose ‘The Life of Cows’.

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So let’s look at each in turn to grasp why vegans and animal rights campaigners feel frustrated.

West Ham United's Kurt Zouma.West Ham United's Kurt Zouma.
West Ham United's Kurt Zouma.

Zouma allowed himself to be filmed abusing one of his pet Bengal cats, in front of a child.

Firstly, he has spent a lot of money on two ‘designer’ cats.

These are often bought to show off as a fashion accessory.

Instead, Zouma could have been a good role model and adopt cats from a rescue, which would have made such a better news story.

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He and his brother carried out this deliberate act, showing a child that it is acceptable to harm animals.

He has rightly been widely condemned, with his cats now removed from his so-called care.

He has lost his sponsorships, two weeks’ wages (wow!) and his reputation. His brother has suffered financially also.

Was Zouma’s team right to play him on the day the story broke?

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Now let’s consider the treatment of the animals in the Panorama expose.

We are told by the industry that these examples are one-offs (that phrase again) and are not representative of the industry as a whole.

Yet time and time again we see these exposes proving they are not one-offs.

One of the issues is that the consumer is constantly looking for the cheapest food product, which in turn reduces the money the farmer can spend on their animals and their care.

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The Animal Welfare (Sentience) Bill has just had its second reading in Parliament which means very soon it will be enshrined into law.

Sentience is the capacity to experience feelings and sensations. We know that both cats like Zouma’s and cows like those on Panorama have sentience. So why do we treat them differently?

After all, in some parts of Asia, cats and dogs are eaten, as cows are eaten in the UK, yet we are horrified at the thought of humans eating animals similar to those in our homes.

Are we right to feel horrified or should we be considering how we treat all animals and not just those for whom we have been conditioned to feel love?