As Luna Lovegood in the "Harry Potter" films, Evanna Lynch was quirky, kindhearted, and ever-optimistic.

Sometimes she was picked on for her oddities. But she never became angry.

Now the actress is showing a tougher side.


Photo by Jane Dalton.

She's putting a spotlight on Europe's brutal live animal trade and hoping to persuade European Union chiefs to end it.

An astonishing 3 million animals — mostly cattle but also sheep and pigs — are transported every year from Europe to Turkey, the Middle East, North Africa, Russia, and Ukraine.

On journeys of thousands of miles in trucks and ships, these large but sensitive creatures are deprived of rest, water, food, and bedding, and they are often hit, kicked, or prodded, according to investigators for Compassion in World Farming (CIWF), a U.K.-based animal-welfare group. They are so thirsty that they lick the bars of the filthy, overcrowded trucks in desperation. Investigators have witnessed many of them too young or sick to travel.

Then, after up to two weeks of suffering, they are slaughtered (without first being rendered unconscious) — sometimes even with blunt knives that worsen and prolong their deaths.

Evanna wanted to take action to help stop the animal trade, so she launched a campaign.

CIWF wants the trade in live animals to be replaced by one in meat.

The live animal trade is legal in Europe, but Evanna's hoping to persuade European Union chiefs to outlaw it.

To get people's attention, Evanna and CIWF began circulating a nontraditional petition this fall — one that came as a life-size cow statue.

Photo by Jane Dalton.

She was the first to sign the cow petition, and then it began a tour of seven countries to send a message to European Commission bosses.

Evanna was joined by “Order of the Phoenix" co-star Robbie Jarvis to launch the event in London on Oct. 9.

Photo by Jim Philpott Photography for CIWF, used with permission.

The news spread on Twitter and Facebook as #cowontour.

The 24-year-old Irish actress believes that animals should be treated as humanely as possible.

She's vegan and doesn't eat meat or animal products. Here's what she told me:

"The suffering is completely unnecessary and is easily remedied with a little bit of compassion.

So many people aren't aware this trade goes on — for instance, I'm vegan, but my family eat meat, and when I tell them what goes on, they say, 'It doesn't happen here.' Because people don't realize this horrible practice happens.

It's grotesque but it's the truth. I don't think it would continue if people were aware."



Protest at the European Commission. Photo by Jim Philpott Photography for CIWF, used with permission.

You can see the painful side of the live animal trade in this video (Warning: the content is graphic and includes animal suffering):

The European Commission says it's concerned about animal welfare, and it has held workshops to train slaughterhouse workers in correct practices.

We may think of them as just farm animals. But anyone who has been near a cow, sheep, or pig will know they feel the same things as we do — hunger, thirst, pain, fear, and love.

Yet in this ugly trade, they are treated like mere sacks of potatoes. In this one sculpture lies all the hope of change for a more humane, more grown-up approach to the millions of living, breathing, feeling animals we breed. Their fate, and whether they remain free from suffering, rests on it.

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