5 Cruel Animal Traditions That Make No Sense Today

Editor’s note: This Care2 favorite was originally posted on September 6, 2015. Enjoy!

Certain customs, passed down from generation to generation, stand the test of time. We outgrow others as times change — and that’s not always a bad thing.

Animals have been victims of cruel human traditions for far too long, and it’s time to put an end to these five practices.

1. Hunting

Hunting was once a necessity for survival, providing food, clothing and materials to make tools. But after agriculture emerged, hunting became a form of entertainment.

Weapons with night vision and automatic focus, allow hunters to take down an animal from miles away. Sometimes hunters even have the added advantage of pursuing their target in an enclosed park, where animals are bred for the sole purpose of being hunted. It’s not a necessary fight, much less a fair one.

Modern hunters maintain that their actions help with conservation efforts, but scientific research has disproven that claim. Instead, many animals are being hunted to near extinction. Costa Rica banned the practice after thousands of concerned citizens expressed their concern. It’s time for every state and country in the world to follow suit.

2. Rodeos

What started in the 1800s as a competition among cowboys turned into a huge event so popular that it is the official sport of Wyoming, South Dakota and Texas.

The “show” is extremely violent with events like roping, in which a rider yanks a calf by its neck into the air, slams the animal down on the ground and ties its legs together, leading to severe injury – or even death.

Behind the scenes, animals are tortured before the competition even begins. Cruel devices like electric prods and metal spurs make the usually tacit animals overreact and give the daring cowboy more of a challenge.

The United Kingdom, the Netherlands and the city of Pasadena, California, are among the places that have recognized the cruelty in rodeos and banned the practice. Unfortunately, an estimated 30 million people still attend rodeos every year, considering them to be a fun tradition.

3. Zoos

Most people have a fond memory of visiting a zoo as a child. What’s not to love when observing exotic creatures? Sadly, for the animals on the other side of the cage, it’s not such a fun experience.

Even the largest enclosure cannot compare to the freedom of the wild, and captivity takes a toll on wildlife health, lowering life expectancy and altering behavior.

Conservation is not a a valid excuse to keep animals under lock and key, as these creatures bred in captivity won’t be released back into the wild.

Why not start a new tradition of visiting an animal sanctuary instead?

4. Bullfighting

Bullfighting is a major cultural tradition, especially in Spain. The “show” consists of a matador luring a bull in a sand arena and stabbing him to death to the viewers’ applause.

In the words of comedian and activist Ricky Gervais, “It’s terrified already — the crowds shouting — it’s disorientated, it just wants it to stop. It’s done nothing wrong, this bull.”

The first bull fight dates back to the 12th century, when people also gathered to watch criminals get stoned to death. Today, this violent tradition has no place, and waning audiences highlight that fact. 60 percent of Spaniards oppose bullfights.

In Southern France, bullfights were removed from the cultural heritage list. Catalonia has banned them too. Meanwhile, Alicante has replaced its usual running of the bulls with a cycling race. Villafranca de los Caballeros ditched its annual bullfight, and the city used the money saved to buy books for needy kids. Next time you travel, skip the bullfight.

5. Meat consumption

Perhaps no tradition is more embedded in our culture than carnism, or eating meat. As a society, we love our pets and don’t want to intentionally harm animals, but we don’t think twice about eating a double cheeseburger with bacon. Once upon a time, eating meat was necessary for survival, but today it makes no sense.

Science has shown that a plant-based diet is not only complete in nutrients, but also healthier than a diet supplemented by meat. And that’s without even factoring in the horrors of factory farming, the environmental toll of meat production and the impact on world hunger.

There’s certainly value in longstanding cultural practices, but sometimes “it’s just the way things have always been done” can become an excuse. It’s time to retire that tired statement, as well as these cruel institutions.

Photo Credit: Russ Bowling/Flickr


Lesa D
Lesa D10 months ago


thank you, Natalia...

Raquel Cadierno Domingo
Raquel DOMINGOabout a year ago

I wish all these disappeared. Please let´s all keep fighting against this brutality.

Jessica whitfield
Jessica whitfieldabout a year ago

You forgot using animals for experiments

Marija M
Marija Mohoricabout a year ago

tks for sharing

Janis K
Janis Kabout a year ago

Thanks for sharing.

Cheryl B
Cheryl Babout a year ago

great article...thanks

Kristi M
Kristi Mabout a year ago


Gerald L
Gerald Labout a year ago

@ Brian F. New Studies released recently state healthy fats are better than a high carbohydrate intake.

Low-Carbohydrate Diets | The Nutrition Source | Harvard T.H. Chan ...
https://www.hsph.harvard.edu › The Nutrition Source › Carbohydrates
Research shows that a moderately low-carbohydrate diet can help the heart, ... lower carbohydrate diets and heart disease; a subsequent study looked at lower ... (35) A healthy diet that replaced some carbohydrate with protein or fat did a better ... pressure and “bad” LDL cholesterol than a healthy, higher-carbohydrate diet.

Cate S
Cate Sabout a year ago

Rodeos cause such fear & trauma, & physical pain and damage to animals. Time to end this horrible 'tradition' as well as bull-fights.

Monica Chongtham
Monica Chongthamabout a year ago

thanks for sharing