This is the question we have to ask ourselves, this is the crux of the issue. Do we – as a society, as individuals, value our taste buds above the life of another living being?
It seems that whenever I engage in conversation with non-vegans about veganism, they immediately want to discuss nutrition (or in their mind lack thereof). They inevitably lead with protein, and broadly challenge the health claims of a plant-based diet. We live in a culture dominated by instant gratification where people expect and crave immediate results with the least effort and inconvenience. So when it comes to making any type of life change, to their habits, or culinary choices, they immediately want to know what they are going to get in return for their “sacrifice.” It’s as if I were to say anything less than, “Yes, it’s true, you can levitate and lift a car on a vegan diet” they won’t even pay attention or be open minded enough to listen.
Most people never stop to take a moment to think outward, outside of themselves, and think what effect a personal choice might have on something or someone else other then themselves. Especially when it comes to “diet,” and the food we choose to consume!
I understand that people believe consuming animal products is a personal choice, but have you ever stopped to consider the personal choice of the animal who wants to live, and who was killed for your meal? That animal based meal you recently consumed gave you 15 minutes of sensory pleasure in the form of taste, but for the animal it took their life. Just because something is said to be or assumed to be a “personal choice” doesn’t make it personal or justifiable. For example, if someone made the personal choice to abuse or beat a dog, would that make it morally justifiable? Or if someone murdered another human because it was their personal choice, would that make it ok? Or when an abusive parent makes the personal choice to abuse their child, is that morally justifiable? So when someone says to me, “but it’s my personal choice to eat animals,” they are clearly not thinking about the personal choice of the animal that shares the same innate will to live just as we humans do.
As consumers we need to be more aware of what we are supporting when we make a purchase; when you buy something at the store you are not only supporting that company and its products, but you are also giving them a “yes” vote with your dollar in approval of that item. The company will continue to provide it’s products as long as consumers continue to give them “yes” votes. Have you ever stopped to consider what you are saying yes to when it comes to the animal products you purchase at the store?
Here is a very brief synopsis:
Eggs – this is what you vote YES to with every purchase:
Male chicks are fed down a conveyor belt and ground up alive in a macerater, or sometimes they are simply thrown into trash bags while still alive where they will eventually suffocate. This is simply because male chicks cannot lay eggs, and therefore they are seen as a waste of space and of no commercial value to the hatchery or farmer. All of this just so that you can eat a hens embryo…which is rather weird in itself isn’t it? How come we don’t eat any other animal embryos? Not to mention the cholesterol, saturated fat, and choline you are ingesting; there is much misleading information about the “nutritional benefits” of eating these eggs.
Chicken – this is what you vote YES to with every purchase:
Chickens crammed into warehouses, debeaked (a painful industry practice where the birds sensitive beak tips are clipped or seared off to prevent them from pecking each other to death – due to the stressful environments they are forced to live in), genetically engineered to grow faster and larger then ever before (resulting in terrible health and suffering for the birds), and of course they are pumped up with antibiotics because no bird could possibly live as long as they do in the unsanitary conditions that they are forced to live in. And please understand that “cage-fee” and “free-range” are at best just marketing terms (euphemisms) meant to make you feel better about your purchase. At the end of the day no matter how the chicken lived, it is still slaughtered simply for your appetite.
Milk and Cheese – this is what you vote YES to with every purchase:
Some people don’t realize that female cows only produce milk after they are pregnant (just like any other animal – humans included); yes shocker I know, cows aren’t just like a soda fountain for milk. So how do you get a cow to continuously produce milk? Simple, keep impregnating her through artificial insemination – the practice of forcibly impregnating a cow with bull sperm…over and over again! Furthermore, cows are expected to produce a certain yield of milk, and thus they are milked over and over during their milk producing time; their teats become swollen and infected, pus seeps from their teats into the milk they give, and of course they are fed a healthy dose of antibiotics in order to power through this process. And then, nature forbid that a cow should give birth to a male calf (as of course they do many times), that male calf is taken away from the mother within hours of birth (ok in rare instances they are a bit “nicer” and wait a day or two), and that calf is either shot dead (because just like with the male baby chicks, they have no commercial value and take up space), or he is raised in a tiny cramped crate to be slaughtered for veal. At the end of the day, even if the cow lived a wonderful, free life grazing on green open pastures (which we all know is NOT reality), she is still slaughtered and killed for your sensory pleasure of taste – for milk and cheese.
Meat – this is what you vote YES to with every purchase:
Cattle raised for meat live a grim existence; confined in small spaces, abused, tortured, and mutilated. Yes, cattle do get to be outside at times, but it’s far from the green hill pastures that are portrayed in commercials and children’s cartoons. I have seen it first hand here in California; these cattle lots look like enslavement camps where only suffering and death exist. Doesn’t matter if you buy grass-fed, “humane,” or any other bullshit marketing term used to make you feel better about the fact that at the end of the day all of these animals still meet the same fate – death. And anyway, how do you “humanely” kill someone that wants to live? Humane by definition means “having or showing compassion or benevolence.” Can you really kindly, or compassionately put a bolt gun to a cows head, shoot them, and then slit their throats to drain their blood? Not possible! These are social animals, they have familial structures, and inherently seek pleasure and want to live!
If you consume meat, you are also consuming all the fear, stress, and adrenaline that was pumping through this poor animals body just before slaughter:
Pork (yes, this includes your precious bacon) – this is what you vote YES to with every purchase:
An animal that is as smart as a household dog or cat, forced into a life of suffering and torture; confined to gestation crates so small that they don’t even have enough room to turn around in, mutilated by having their tails cut off, their teeth ground or clipped, and the male piglets castrated – all of this usually done without the use of any anesthesia. The treatment of these poor intelligent creatures is nothing short of appalling! Some slaughterhouses even use gas chambers (“CO2 stunning”) as a form of “humane slaughter” before slitting the pigs throats; and as you can imagine there is nothing “humane” about this process! All of this just to satisfy humans taste for their flesh…and hear the typical response of “but, bacon though.” Nothing is more facepalm inducing then this!
Fish – this is what you vote YES to with every purchase:
The fishing industry is responsible for some of the most environmentally damaging practices affecting the oceans; commercial fishing employs such methods as trawling, gillnets, and longlines that unintentionally end up catching all sorts of other sea life outside the intended target – this is called “bycatch.” Furthermore, these practices are depleting populations and disrupting ecosystems all together; at a faster rate then they can replenish their populations. Not to mention, from a health standpoint, the animal protein (IGF-1), high cholesterol and saturated fats, contaminates and pollutants, that are all being ingested when you consume fish. At the end of the day, a living creature is still being killed to satisfy your taste preferences; and yes, even fish feel pain!
Slaughterhouse Workers (humans) – this is what you vote YES to with every purchase:
This is probably the last element that most people think of when it comes to consuming animal products and factory farming; but yes, someone had to actually kill that animal in order for them to get on your plate, or to get their by-product on the super market shelf. Put yourself in the shoes of a slaughterhouse worker for a moment, do you really think you could shoot a bolt gun into the head of a living animal, slit their throat to drain their blood, and then do this over and over again to hundreds of animals a day….AND expect to remain somewhat mentally “normal”? Can you imagine just how much these workers have to suppress any innate emotional response, or compassion towards a living being. Not to mention, the dangerous work environment they have to endure which comes with a high injury rate, health hazards, potential death or dismemberment, long hours, exploitation (many come from low-income neighborhoods and/or are undocumented), and add to that the constant sight and smell of death. Unfortunately, these workers are simply a victims of the system , and inevitably suffer high instances of PTSD, repetitive mental trauma, and have been shown to exhibit violent behavior towards other people. It’s no surprise that these workers then turn to alcohol and other drugs to cope with the stress of their daily work routine. Yet, human appetite and demand for animal products is what is making these jobs exist in the first place. The alternative? Plant/vegetable farms, farming crops for human consumption, plant-based product facilities, etc. All these would involve harvesting plants instead of abusing, torturing, and killing animals.
This is simple supply and demand, and as long as consumers continue demanding these animal products and voting YES (with their dollars), these factory farms will continue to supply this cycle of abuse, torture, and death. BUT, we as individuals have the power to create a shift in this supply; as aware and conscious consumers, we can opt for plant-based and vegan products instead when we go to the store or restaurant. Each time you purchase a plant-based/vegan alternative, you are saying NO to animal cruelty and the killing of these innocent beings, and saying YES to demanding more plant-based/vegan alternatives.
Now I know what you are thinking…”ok but if the world goes vegan tomorrow, then what are we going to do with all these animals in the factory farms? They are going to overrun us all!” This is something I hear many people say when simply discussing veganism. This comment is akin to people asking me “well what would you do if you were stuck on a deserted island, what would you eat then?” Point being, it’s simply unrealistic. Just as unrealistic as the entire world going vegan overnight. What is realistic? A gradual shift over time; one that would/could unfortunately take many decades to achieve. So don’t worry people, we are NOT at risk of the world going vegan overnight and being overrun by farm animals! Not to mention, that the only reason these animals exist in such great numbers in the first place is because they are bred into existence to meet consumer demand/appetite. Take away that demand (or decrease it), and such intensive breeding will slow, and ultimately has the potential to cease all together. Thus, bit by bit, as more and more people become aware, and begin to demand more and more vegan products, supply will change, industry will adapt, and companies will pivot to meet consumer demand of these vegan products. As this happens over time, less and less animals will be bred for consumption, the existing farm animal populations will naturally and gradually die out over time, and some animals will be sent to farm sanctuaries where they will be cared for, and left in peace to live out their lives freely.
What about the farmers, and all the jobs associated with animal agriculture? All those jobs will be lost! Not exactly, they simply need to ride the shifting wave of demand and start farming plants and vegetables instead of animals, plant-based milks instead of animal-based milk, vegan meat alternatives instead of animal flesh, egg substitutes instead of eggs, and on and on (just visit the vegan aisle of any grocery store and see all the alternatives already available – all of these have industry and jobs waiting behind them). Moreover, I’m sure that slaughterhouse workers, and butchers would much rather be harvesting, cutting, and slicing vegetables and vegan meat alternatives then actual screaming, suffering, bleeding animals. They can still be employed, they just need to shift into the new industries as well.
Fore example, Tyson Foods Inc., one of the largest meat processors in the world, now owns a 5% stake in the plant-based protein start-up Beyond Meat – maker of the vegan Beyond Burger, that is now even outselling beef in some stores. The rise in sales of plant-based alternatives is undeniable at this point, and other companies like Campbell Soup Co. are also getting in the game by selling Bolthouse Farms plant protein milk. Another example, Nestlé the worlds largest food maker, predicts that plant-based foods will continue to grow in demand and is already working to expand its presence in this sphere by introducing a almond-based coffee creamer by Coffemate, and a non-dairy ice cream. Moreover, restaurants are also getting in on this shift by offering more plant-based options, or in some cases going 100% plant-based all together. Large corporations are also trying to meet this new demand by incorporating more vegan initiatives in the work place. These are just a few examples, do your own research and you will find many more examples of new and existing companies getting involved in this vegan shift.
Humans are a very creative and innovative species, just as we have figured out how to land a man on the moon, over time we will figure out the best way to work with and prosper with this shift in demand away from animal products, and the adoption of plant-based products. And just as in other times in our history, we don’t have to have all the answers figured out right now (as we already established the world is NOT going vegan overnight), over time industry will find the best way to meet this new growing demand, as more and more people vote YES to plant-based products, and ultimately NO to animal cruelty and suffering!
It is time we begin to value life over taste; use your dollars wisely…every vote counts!