Saturday Star

Big cat poser for a reborn vegetarian


MONTHS of scientific research on the couch has concluded: yes, animals are sentient beings.

Not surprising given that five of the six researcher­s are dogs.

However, the result has previously been affirmed by proper, respected scientists.

This human participan­t has a serious issue with killing things. Flies, mosquitoes, cockroache­s, rodents and ants are fair game if they wander into our territory. Spiders and geckos are welcome, and it’s pretty certain there is a snake in the ceiling that has been left undisturbe­d. We just hope it stays up there.

Decades ago, I chose vegetarian­ism. Back then, there was little interest in this hippy-type tree-hugger movement. The soya products available were horrible. Not only did they taste like cardboard, they caused gas on a Chernobyl scale, to the extent it was painful unless leaked.

The only restaurant that offered anything other than mac and cheese and salad was the Hungry Hermit, whose brinjal bake was legendary.

There were lots of boring salads or over-boiled beans and carrots.

A health issue forced its hand, and carnivoris­m was reinstated with long teeth (see what I did there?). But as medicine moved on, it became clear this wasn’t necessary as long as it was not total veganism.

A happy reborn vegetarian also found plant-based food had come a very long way with really tasty options.

The question of animals being sentient has been stirred by falling in love with lions and leopards. They are magnificen­t and powerful and deadly. But lions within their pride, when not fighting over food, and leopards with cubs, can be gentle and loving. There’s cuddling and grooming and playing. It’s tender, quite beautiful and too complex to not include some form of feeling.

The same applies to the herbivores, which make up the bulk of the carnivores’ diet, and a mom herbivore hanging around where her lamb/cub/ calf has been killed is immensely sad.

The couch study also came to mind when an odd report surfaced on Sky News Australia, of the Victorian Farmers Federation president Emma Germano complainin­g about “serious unintended consequenc­es” if proposed laws recognisin­g animals as sentient beings were passed. The laws would mean people with animals would have to take “reasonable” steps to provide an “acceptable” level of care.

Seriously? According to the report, Germano was worried because “we’ve seen cases overseas where animals have sued their owners and been emancipate­d from those owners”.

This is just an assumption, but she represents a group which would include raising animals to kill for the table. Another group that would argue for animals not feeling anything is the US’S National Rifle Associatio­n.

One of the survey questions was how many people would eat meat or hunt if they had to go out and kill with stealth, bare hands and claws?

Not so many, was the guess. Now we just have to encourage lions and the rest to like tasty roots and fruits.

NO MATTER how much Naadira Vanker wanted to see her 1-year-old grow old, darkness was always going to break in through her front door that morning.

There are two kinds of women, dead or surviving!

Sometimes the surviving die at the hands of a belly filled by their love, their kindness.

Sometimes the line between naivety and kindness is too thin to the perpetrato­r.

Its frail fabric fades at the tug of a random act of kindness.

Sometimes a “hello” is destined to evolve to murder, in how it erupts madness.

I would imagine a kind-hearted person’s aura glows bright.

It is the gleaming who are prey to some kind of darkness.

What a burden it must be, being a woman in a world full of men.

To be light, in a world full of moths, camouflage­d as butterflie­s, with bitter truths, bad intentions and better lies.

Naadira would often cook fresh hot meals for security guards at the complex where she lived, in Lenasia, south of Johannesbu­rg. A “thank you for your protection” in the form of a steamy dish.

She shared her home with her husband, Imraan Haider, their daughter aged 9, and sons, aged 7, 3 and the 1-year-old she wanted to see grow old.

When her husband left for work after 6am on April 22, little did Naadira know she was already dangling on a rope balancing beam, as thin as the line between being kind and naive. Her kidnappers had broken in. Their rage had a date with her skin.

Her eldest girl and boy were up with her, they too got their fair share of this utterly heinous sin.

The boy; punched, kicked and choked until he passed out.

The girl; also beaten to the point of being knocked out.

The 2-year-old was sleeping, the 1-year-old was wrapped in blankets, wailing.

Naadira; she was abducted from her home, subsequent­ly murdered. Her light turned off, you know how shadows behave.

In the backyard of a security guard, she often cooked fresh hot meals for, her body was found in a shallow grave.

For every time a dog is as loyal, another may bite the hand that feeds it. We have become accustomed to men confiscati­ng air from the lungs of women, like they don’t need it.

No matter how much Naadira Vanker wanted to see her 1-year-old grow old, darkness was always going to break in through her front door that morning.

If not her, any other of the women surviving!

What is your home, if you can’t even feel safe under your skin?

No matter how cold the day, it seems you can’t bargain your safety with a hot meal.

This is when a dish becomes food for evil thoughts.

I wonder how much more heat in the kitchen did she have to withstand for her to be surviving today.

After all, the righteous eat to the satisfacti­on of their souls: but the belly of the wicked shall want.

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