Don’t Bully Bulls: Ethical Travel in Spain

Spain in the News

Spain has been in the news recently when a  matador was gored in Teruel, Spain then five men were injured in the Pamplona Bull Run.  My entire time in Spain I did not go to any bull related events because of my beliefs as a vegetarian.  I was of course mocked for moving to Spain and then not going to the two most famous events in the country.  The reality is, I didn’t move to Spain to witness the torture of animals. My goal in Spain was to teach English and travel.

My Reaction

I wasn’t surprised to hear about either incident.  It is plain to see these events are dangerous.  The participants are very aware of the danger.  Yes, only 15 people have actually died from bull races since 1924 but no participants can say that they believe the activity is safe.  And of course, matadors pride themselves in the danger of their job however Victor Barrio is the first to be actually killed in 15 years.


What Happens to the Bulls?

People seem to understand the inherent abuse of bulls in bullfighting but seem to lack the awareness of the abuse that happens during the Running of the Bulls.  First of all, has any one seen a bull in an open field?  They stand there or slowly walk around chewing food. Bulls aren’t running angrily through fields normally.


So why are they so worked up during The Running of the Bulls?  Well, they are kept in dark, cramped enclosures then cattle prodded to make them angry.  When they are released into the streets they are in pain, scared, have glared vision and they often slip and fall.  After the run, the bulls are corralled then they have to be killed in a bull fight. Does any of that sound fun for the bull?bulls1.gif

Bullfights are very obviously cruel but some tourists don’t realize that the bull is prodded and stuck with spears before he enters the ring.  The bull is angry, scared and losing blood in front of a perfectly healthy matador.  There’s a reason Victor Barrio is the first bull fighter killed in 15 years.  It’s not a fair fight.  There’s not much sport in killing a wounded animal.


What do Spanish People Think?

The funny thing is most of the Spanish people I’ve spoken to in Madrid don’t agree with bullfighting.  They understand its part of tradition however they see the cruelty and don’t find the activity entertaining.  For the most part, bullfighting has stayed around because of tourism not because of local passion.

What can you do instead?

What can you do instead of bull events?  There’s The Running of the Nudes, a PETA campaign my cousin was a part of.  Since 2002, it has been a counter event, where people go streaking sometimes wear plastic bull horns and red scarves. It is in Pamplona as well.

Spanish culture and festivals are vibrant.  There are many other amazing events in Spain such as La Tomatina, The Patio Festival, and La Carnival.  Then there’s events I wasn’t able to attend like Las Fallas, Ibiza Opening Weekend and El Camino.  There’s much more to Spanish culture than cruelty.

Sangria Stained Lips (4)





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