Disclaimer: I am very happy being vegan, just as people are happy being omnivorous. I am not questioning people’s right to lead a happy life, simply pointing out a few flaws in the accepted system of how human beings survive on this planet.
People have many reasons for going vegan, be it for health or ethical choices. For me, it was a bit of both. Quite simply I really went off the thought of eating dead animals and consuming their metabolic byproducts. That may sound like a crude way of putting it, but it’s exactly what it is. I asked myself something which I had long since been happy neglecting: Does this feel natural? And to tell you the truth, no it didn’t. Because if it was natural I would be salivating at the thought of rotting flesh, as carnivores do; I would be going to a pet store not for a fluffy companion but for my evening meal; and perhaps most obviously I would have the necessary anatomical tools to cut through muscle and tendons, not a steak knife and a fork.
Some might argue that humans, as self-aware, intelligent organisms, we have the right to exploit our environment as we see fit, placing ourselves at the top of the food chain via technological (unnatural) means. And for a long time I believed that – we’ve earned the right to destroy ecosystems and torture animals on a mass scale because, you know, we’re smart, right? Now I see that to be an incredibly self-centered notion. Now, I’m not arguing the fact that we are the dominant species on this planet – we seriously kick ass when it comes to damaging the environment. But, to paraphrase Ben Parker,with such a great amount of power comes an even greater responsibility to make our cosmically irrelevant time as the dominant species of this planet as unaffecting as possible.
It is also a common misconception that the production of milk doesn’t harm cows. For starters the veal industry wouldn’t be able to survive without the dairy industry to provide them with calves. As such, farmers need to artificially inseminate cows every year; then, growth hormones and milking schedules cause the cows udders to swell to unnatural and painful sizes, sometimes resulting in infection and the need for antibiotic administration. Luckily the potentially harmful Recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone has been banned in Europe under the grounds that they “have the right to restrict the importation and sale of products that may have serious health consequences”. America isn’t quite so fortunate.
Even organically-raised cows’ milk is full of naturally-occurring growth hormones designed to double a calf’s weight not a humans. Cows, like all female mammals, lactate in order to care for their young. The last time I checked I didn’t have hooves or an overwhelming need to double my body weight, support a bovine skeleton or develop enormous muscle groups.
That’s all on dairy for now, but I plan to return to it with a dedicated post as it was probably the single most influential factor in my transition from vegetarianism to veganism.
That is my aunt’s dog, Raffi. And yes he is standing on the bottom of a swimming pool. He is an incredible animal, a loyal pet, socially aware and especially loving. Would I eat him? Absolutely not, and neither would my aunt or any omnivore (living in the West). So what’s the difference between him and a chicken or a cow or a cat or a rat or a horse or a fish? Absolutely nothing. We anthropomorphise certain animals because that’s what we’ve always been told, always grown up believing, and yet we fail to recognise that there is no difference besides anatomy and biology.
I think the most saddening part for me is that it took twenty-one years for me to acknowledge this to such a degree that it would physically force me to stop eating them. I know it’s a bit of a cheap guilt trip, but at least stop and think about it. Or, as they say, ignorance is bliss.