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They Have Heartbeats Too

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A lot of good lines have been written about why abusing animals says more about us than it does about them. You might know this one from Gandhi:

"The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated".

Many great things have been also been said about our appetite for the planet's resources. This quote is pretty good from Gandhi (and very true):

"Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed."

But by far my favourite rhyme about what nature does for us is from Shelley:

"Away, away, from men and towns,
To the wild wood and the downs, --
To the silent wilderness,
Where the soul need not repress
Its music."

You see I think that how we interact with nature and animals says a lot about our species. If there were a Court that could judge every living thing on this planet and what impact - collectively - its had then I fear our species would find itself condemned.

An EU directive pushed through by bureaucrats in Brussels and condemned by almost everyone who it effects (because it's badly implemented legislation) will mean 8 million more animals are killed for product safety testing each year. It's slaughter on an impressive scale and yet only very small groups of very committed people are trying to stop it.

I could point to a lot of weird weather events that have happened recently and then point to the representatives of our species who have failed to come up with a coherent plan to stop, mitigate or adapt to climate change and we would find a similar story. Generally it's known that something's wrong, yet it's small groups of committed people who are working to make it right again.

I really love people and so it's strange that I find myself so angry with the people species: humanity. I know that individuals care. I don't know anyone who would force any animals eye open, pour chemicals in it for hours, dissect the animal and throw it out as trash. I don't know anyone who thinks that limited resources and a ballooning population is a cool future scenario. Yet as a species - and such a vast one - we've slipped far down the path of complacency.

How we treat animals and how we treat our environment says a lot about the human species. But before we get all breast-beating and oi moi ta'las-ing let's have a history lesson, remember Byron and breath: because using every resource in the world and killing animals by the species load is not a human inevitability. In fact if you sit down just with yourself (but think of your friends and human progress too), your heart and even your head then you probably know that a different world is possible and a better one too.

Tomorrow a new social media campaign #animalperson will launch. It's a simple idea. We are all animals. Use the hashtag to tell the world which animal you're like and why. Because the more we try to forget our #animalperson or to act as though the world is just for humans, the more stupid we seem and the more species and environments we threaten to destroy.

I'm an #animalperson because I love more than I hate.
I'm an #animalperson because I want to protect my home.

It's a small part of a big company's vision. Ethical cosmetics brand Lush have launched The Lush Prize. It will be awarded on Thursday 15th November and its aim is to end animal testing for good. It's a fine ambition and to that they've attached a fine prize: £250,000 each year. The hope is an act of faith in the future: to recognise that our story is bright not bloody and that it is our hearts as much as our minds that make our animal human.

Presented by Breast Cancer Campaign