India’s heart is in the right place regarding animals. According to a latest survey on public perception about animal welfare issues, the country stands unanimous with majority in favour of not inflicting cruelty on the voiceless.
According to Animal Protection Index designed by World Animal Protection, an international non-profit animal welfare organisation, India has the best grade among all Asian countries when it comes to commitment to protecting its animals and improving animal welfare in legislation and policy. India’s Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act prohibits the suffering of animals, infliction of unjustified pain, exposure to heavy fear and injury to animals. The act also applies to farm animals with regulations particularly aimed at protecting them. With Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI) now pushing for a ban on animals in circuses, the act is possibly one of the strongest animal welfare acts worldwide. While India’s legislation has placed animal welfare at the fore, public perception towards the voiceless is what governs their well-being and interest.
Now, a latest survey by IPSOS, a market research company, in collaboration with Animal Equality, a non-profit animal rights organisation, takes a peek at public perception about animals and animal welfare issues in India. As per the survey results, while 88% of the respondents believed that humans torture animals to meet the demands of their food habits, 78% felt that the government should come up with more stringent laws so that animals used for food are not tortured.
The survey was conducted across 11 cities – Ahmedabad, Bangalore, Chandigarh, Chennai, Delhi, Goa, Guwahati, Jaipur, Mumbai, Pune, and Shillong – and included 1002 urban adults (18+ years) as respondents. Some of the objectives included gauging perception of masses towards animal welfare, whether they would want the government to introduce or improve animal welfare standards and whether they would want food companies to adopt farmed animal welfare standards. The results show that nearly nine out of ten respondents agreed that human beings exploit animals for food.
The study also reflects how proactive the population is when it comes to animals’ interest. As many as 75% of the respondents said they would not mind shelling out extra money if it would ensure adoption of torture-free processes while deriving products from animals. More than two-thirds of the respondents felt that slaughtering of animals was an unfair act and should be prohibited. Moreover, while 64% of the respondents were aware of organizations working for animal welfare in India, a majority (94%) felt that food companies should also have an animal welfare policy in place.
Vegetarian vs Non-vegetarian
When it came to a comparison between meat-eating and non-meat eating populations, the survey results swayed towards non-meat eaters. While a majority of vegetarians felt that a meat diet causes suffering to animals, most of the meat-eating population did not believe that slaughtering of animals is an unfair act.
The divide was even more marked when respondents were asked about more stringent laws to ensure that animals used for food were not tortured. While a majority of the non-meat eating population in Pune (98.38%), Chennai (93.65%), Mumbai (92.06%), Delhi (90.47%) and Bengaluru (86.15%) felt the need for more stringent rules, on an average, only 65% of the meat-eating population across all five cities believed that the rules needed to be amended.
Pune city outshines the rest
A city-wise analysis of the response showed that Pune was the most aware and sensitized city when it came to animal welfare. The city outscored the rest with a positive response of the non-meat eating city dwellers regarding animal welfare activities and awareness. Most Puneites (95.16%) did not only feel that humans tortured animals for food, they (100%) also supported entrusting food companies with the responsibility of making sure that animals were not tortured and that animals should be given a voice through organisations working for welfare of animals in the policies that impact animals’ well-being (100%). The city also stayed at the forefront with a majority of the vegetarian population (98.38%) advocating more stringent laws to ensure that the animals are not at the receiving end.
An overall analysis showed that while Pune marched ahead with 93.06% of the respondents in favour of animal welfare, Chennai (91.58%), Bengaluru (91.53%) and Mumbai (91.26%) were next in line, following Pune closely in all the criteria mentioned above. The least aware cities were Jaipur, Chandigarh and Ahmedabad.
The study made some recommendations about potential activities that animal welfare organisations could take up.
• According to the study, since respondents had reported fair awareness levels about the torture animals experience to meet the food demands of human beings, proper information and encouragement to volunteer for corporate vegetarian outreach programmes can be taken up.
• Since most respondents asked for strong laws and policies for animal welfare, a proper advocacy strategy must be developed to make government establish strong laws for animal protection and food companies to have a comprehensive policy for animal welfare.