Do We Value Taste Over Life?

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 PTSDrepetitive 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!

 

What You Eat Matters

Yes, this is true, what you eat really does matter! And no, not just for yourself, but for the animals, and for the environment.

I recently came across this new full-length documentary on YouTube called “H.O.P.E. – What You Eat Matters” (H.O.P.E. standing for Healing Of Planet Earth), and wow this is a very powerful documentary that really makes you think and feel! The documentary features discussions about the benefits of a plant based diet, based on science and researched, and the environmental impact of farming animals for consumption, as well as [most importantly] the welfare of these poor animals, and the moral aspect of consuming them.

Hope

Here is another documentary I wish everyone in the world could watch; it’s thorough, comprehensive, and does a great job at presenting all the facts (backed by research), and showing the harsh reality of animal consumption and it’s consequences. Anyway, I could go on and on here, but the documentary simply just needs to be watched! Please take the time, do yourself a favor, and watch this movie.

WARNING: Watching this documentary in it’s entirety may cause irreversible awareness and compassion. Precede at your own risk of awakening. 

 

Vegan 2017

Another year of eating kale, and another year in the advancement of the vegan movement! It seems now more then ever that the plant based movement continues to grow exponentially every year, with the sharing of information, books, documentaries, YouTube videos, social media, events, and festivals. Moreover, it’s so great to see how many more new vegan restaurants are popping up, vegan options in “non-vegan” restaurants, vegan foods and alternatives at the grocery store, vegan apparel, and vegan movements! Love it!

And once again, the folks over at Plant Based News have done a great job of putting together another short documentary (as they did for 2016) that recounts the growth of the vegan movement in 2017. I wish everyone could watch this video because it is packed with so many good clips, news worthy segments, success stories, and challenges that still lie ahead of/for the vegan movement. But the main takeaway is clear, the vegan movement is growing, and there is no slowing down! Check it out here:

Vegan 2017

 

Why Your Doctor Isn’t Talking About This

If living on a plant based diet is so healthy, then why isn’t your doctor talking to you about it? That is a common question (or sentiment) among omnivores when hearing about the benefits of a plant based diet. The truth is, most doctors simply don’t have the training and knowledge of using food as medicine (I wrote about this subject in a previous post); so they can’t really discuss a plant based diet as a prescription to better health, let alone as a means to reverse many common diseases/ailments. Moreover, their practice doesn’t make any money by prescribing vegetables to patients, but they do make money by prescribing drugs – “band-aids” that simply mask symptoms, instead of actually treating the causes of sickness and disease.

Here is a great interview with Dr. Michael Greger that perfectly explains this conundrum:

 

Pretty interesting stuff right?! This really helps explain what is going on in the health care industry, and why none of our doctors are talking about plant based diets as a means to healthier living.

And if that wasn’t enough for you, then check out this next video with Dr. Neal Barnard discussing the same issue:

I hope the information discussed in these two videos answers the question as to why doctors don’t discuss vegan/plant based diets as a means to health. I sometimes get asked, [or teased] the question of “if being vegan or plant based is so healthy, then why wouldn’t my doctor be telling me about this”? Well, this is exactly why I am sharing this information here; I hope this helps to better understand what is really going on here. And I don’t want people to be deterred from trying a plant based diet simply because “their doctor isn’t talking about it, or recommending it.” Do your own research about a plant based diet (and always check the source)…the learning never stops!

Carnism

Do you ever actually stop and think why we eat animals, or why we eat the flesh of another living being? Furthermore, do you ever think why it is that we have become accustomed to eating certain animals, but at the same time find it repulsive to eat others (say a cat, dog, lion, bear, or hamster)? This is where the word carnism comes into play. Carnism, as defined by Dr. Melanie Joy, “is the invisible belief system, or ideology, that conditions people to eat certain animals. Carnism is essentially the opposite of veganism, as ‘carn’ means ‘flesh’ or ‘of the flesh’ and ‘ism’ refers to a belief system. Because carnism is invisible, people rarely realize that eating animals is a choice, rather than a given. In meat-eating cultures around the world, people typically don’t think about why they eat certain animals but not others, or why they eat any animals at all. But when eating animals is not a necessity, which is the case for many people in the world today, then it is a choice – and choices always stem from beliefs.”

So carnism has become the societal norm, as it is considered a given to eat animals (well specific ones at least). Maybe it’s time we just stop and think about that for a moment…thus, I present you this video:

 

It all starts with awareness, and now you are aware of what carnism is.

For all the omnivores and carnivores out there, I hope the information and perspective provided in this video makes you stop and think for just a minute about the un-living creatures you choose to consume on a daily basis, and ask yourself why it is that you don’t feel disgusted about eating a cow burger, but why you would be repulsed if it was a golden lab burger….you might just make the connection.

The Revolution Is Underway

WOW people, this video really sums it up right here; the truth is FINALLY starting to come out! But before I go on some long rant here, and weigh in on some points made in this short film, I’ll just step aside and let the video do the talking. Do yourself a favor, and please WATCH THIS!!

Was that not so damn incredibly eye opening!? It sure as hell should have been! This is what is going on here people, WAKE UP!! This is what has vegan activists up in arms! We the people are purposefully being misinformed when it comes to food, what we should eat, and what the latest health research is telling us! With misinformation comes confusion, and that breads inaction – people will simply continue going on as they have been for years because that is the easiest course of action. But this is exactly what the powers that be want – the meat and dairy industry; they want sheep that simply continue eating what is being fed to them, they want them unaware, misinformed, blind, and asleep at the wheel.

There is such a stark parallel between food misinformation (from big food – meat, poultry industry) and how it was with cigarettes (from big tobacco) back in the day; can you even imagine that there was once a time when the average person had no idea that smoking cigarettes was bad for your health!? The big tobacco companies were constantly putting out propaganda, suppressing information and new research, and purposely trying to keep the public misinformed.

I mean can you imagine how frustrating it would be if you encountered a person now a days that simply denied the truth about the link of smoking and lung cancer. Welcome to what it’s like being a vegan, and simply trying to share information with the average person about the meat their eating, and it’s affects on their health. Yeah, facepalm inducing. But I get it, the average person simply has not put in the time and effort into researching the other side – the vegan side. So instead of being open to any of the information coming form the vegan side, they just quickly dismiss it because it’s coming from some “hippie, tree hugging, cult, misinformed weirdo, that is in a minority group.” Well my dear fellow earthling, it’s time you start listening, it’s time you become aware! Do it for your own sake, your well being, and that of the planet we inhabit. If it wasn’t for these vegan weirdos annoyingly shouting for change, injustice, and awareness; who else would lead the charge to shed light on what is happening here? I doubt it would be the guy posting all his “I love bacon” pics on social media, or the average omnivore for that matter.

The facts, the data, the research about the benefits and affects of a plant based diet on our health, the environment, and the innocent animals is all out there; but so much of it remains in the dark due to this information power struggle led by the meat/dairy industries, their lobbying power, and their financial interests. There is so much money/business at stake here for the meat and dairy industry, of course they are going to continue to push to have their biased information be louder then the truth!

For me, this video brings about the feelings of frustration and anger towards the current situation (yep typical vegan right), and how the truth is being controlled by financial interests at the cost of our own health, the lives of innocent animals, and our environment! But at the same time I feel a great sense of excitement, and hope for the direction this movement is going! I mean just look at the variety of new vegan foods, and vegan/vegetarian restaurants that are popping up all over; more and more even ordinary restaurants are taking notice and offering vegetarian or vegan options. Think about how much that has grown in the last 10 or even 5 years. As this film points out, the trend is definitely growing; businesses are taking notice, and they are starting to shift in order to meet this new consumer demand! The real evidence is starting to emerge and get mainstream attention, more books and documentaries are spreading the truth now then ever before, more celebrities and athletes are going vegan, and the younger generations are already becoming far more aware at an earlier age about these issues then my generation was; they are helping to drive this new growth of plant based demand.

I do envision that one day in the future (maybe not in my lifetime) vegetarian/vegan options will be in every restaurant, and meat packaging will come with clear warnings just like cigarette packaging does now about it’s potential cancer causing effects. Moreover, just as the popularity of recycling for the better well being of our planet has grown, so will the popularity of opting for consuming plants over animals for the better well being of our environment. Who know’s, maybe some day meat eaters will become the minority within the mainstream…yes, that sounds like a stretch right now, but looking at the trajectory of this plant based movement there is no telling how far and fast this can grow. The current evidence [on the growth] would suggest that this plant based train is chugging along full steam!! So to the average carnivore Joe out there, maybe it’s time to start understanding that us vegans aren’t just a bunch of cult hippie weirdos; we’re actually just pioneers on the cutting edge!

Join the movement!

Things You Hear As a Vegan

Ohhh man, this video is too good!! It really hits the nail on the head with so many vegan issues, and/or comments you hear as a vegan! But, this is also a great video for all non-plant based people because it really does answer a lot of the questions most people have about a plant based diet, or living a vegan lifestyle. So check it out!

 

Ha, the good old protein question, it never fails…this probably is the most common question. Well since most of us have been taught from an early age that you need milk for strong bones, and that you need to eat meat for protein, it’s no wonder there is a lot of confusion or misunderstanding when people hear that you [the vegan] sustain yourself on plants. Just check out my food post on Power Bowls to see where I get all my plant based protein from.

Then there is the ‘but don’t you miss bacon‘ question ha. Well, for me I was never a fan of bacon, it was just too greasy, and I didn’t like the taste really (shocker I know). But regardless, no I don’t miss bacon, or any meat for that matter. I know this is difficult for any non-plant based person to fully understand, but as a vegan I simply don’t think of meat the same way; the meat eater probably thinks ‘Mmmm yummy, sizzling meat,’ whereas I think ‘Ughhhh yuck sizzling dead animal pieces.’ I mean most people (in western culture) would cringe at the idea of eating bacon made from dog meat right? Well, not sure why you also wouldn’t cringe at the idea of eating bacon meat made form these wonderful creatures (hint: you’ve been conditioned to respond a certain way – but that still doesn’t make it right) – this is your bacon:

Oh, and for those of you that still see these cute little variations of a dog and think ‘Mmmm bacon,’ well perhaps you should think about this:

 

The milk question, ‘what’s so wrong with milk‘? Those good old “Got Milk?” commercials (funded by the dairy industry of course) sure did a good job of misinforming convincing America how important it is that we drink another species (just think about that for a moment) milk in order to grow big and have strong bones. But of course, these commercials and this message is extremely biased because guess what, the dairy industry needs to make sure people keep buying their product. Well, here is what the dairy industry doesn’t want people to know; there are real negative health implications to drinking this stuff! Oh, not to mention how shitty these poor animals get treated, and killed.

The ‘deserted island‘ proposition, ha! I don’t know why people try to come up with totally unrealistic scenarios just to try to poke holes in someones choice to not eat animals. Long story short, I don’t live on a deserted island so I DO have access to plant based alternatives. But if I was in a totally unrealistic scenario as such, then I’d find plants and berries…or like the gal in the video said, I’d eat what the animals eat. Or, just as unrealistically, I would summon Falkor to pick me up and fly me off this deserted island…peace out! Lets just leave it at that.

But ‘plants have feelings too,’ this is probably one of the comments that gets my blood boiling the most, it’s simply an ignorant (truly misinformed) response when someone doesn’t have (literally is uneducated on the subject of plants, and the fact that they don’t have a brain or central nervous system that would give them the ability to feel) anything better to say when confronted with the cold truth that what they are eating was once a lively sentient creature that had emotions, a personality, and feelings (just like your precious dog or cat).

Lastly, the notion of ‘I just couldn’t do it‘ [go vegan]. Well, yeah changing a custom or routine that you’ve known all your life to something new and different isn’t always easy. But who said that going vegan is something that has to happen over night! Hint: no one. So for anyone thinking of trying a plant based diet, just know that it is simply a transition; take your time with it, start small, or start with a vegetarian diet first. The key here, like they said in the video, is education – the more time you spend learning about a plant based diet, it’s health benefits, and moral and environmental implications, the more informed you become. Moreover, you start to realize all the amazing plant based food there is to eat, how to prepare all these plant based dishes, and how easy it is to make plant based meals. Over time your taste buds adjust, your cravings adjust, and what you once thought was impossible (ditching all your meat and dairy), simply becomes routine and normal. Not to mention, you feel great doing it! At the end of the day I don’t pretend that everyone is going to go vegan, I just wish everyone would simply take the time to be more informed (plant based Vs. non-plant based)!