Why Is a Holocaust Survivor Leading a Fast Against Animal Slaughter?

Earlier this week, hundreds of thousands of people tuned in to an intimate, honest, and eye-opening "Ask Me Anything" interview on Reddit with Holocaust survivor, social justice advocate, and animal rights pioneer Dr. Alex Hershaft. He will be undertaking his 32nd annual "Fast Against Slaughter" next Thursday, October 2, and people wanted to know why.

In His Own Words...

According to Dr. Hershaft, after working on animal farms in the US:

"I noted the many similarities between how the Nazis treated us and how we treat animals, especially those raised for food. Among these are the use of cattle cars for transport and crude wood crates for housing, the cruel treatment and deception about impending slaughter, the processing efficiency and emotional detachments of the perpetrators, and the piles of assorted body parts - mute testimonials to the victims they were once a part of."

He was, however, quick to refute the notion that he was necessarily equating humans with farmed animals.

[I am] pointing to the commonality and pervasiveness of the oppressive mindset, which enables human beings to perpetrate unspeakable atrocities on other living beings [...] It's the mindset that allowed German and Polish neighbors of extermination camps to go on with their lives, just as we continue to subsidize the oppression of animals at the supermarket checkout counter.

Founding a Movement

Dr. Hershaft founded the organization Farm Animal Rights Movement in 1976, and two years later began an annual one-day fast as part of World Day for Farmed Animals, to raise awareness about the immense suffering animals experience when raised and killed for food. Mahatma Ghandi's birthday, October 2, was chosen as the date because of his animal advocacy and willingness to fast and protest for the causes he believed in. This is the first year Dr. Hershaft has invited the public to fast with him, and nearly 10,000 people from 71 countries have pledged to join him so far.

I personally plan to fast on October 2 as well, even as I take a several-hour trip that day to Eastern Maryland to protest outside a Perdue Slaughterhouse. Personal actions, such as reducing or eliminating our consumption of animal products, are important - but sometimes an atrocity is so egregious that it warrants a public outcry, and even a sacrifice. I hope that many of you consider joining me, Dr. Alex Hershaft, and tens of thousands of others in this global act of solidarity with the most abused and helpless beings on the planet.

Disclosure: I work with Alex Hershaft on a regular basis as the Executive Director of his organization, FARM.