In this last year, I have learned so much about food, factory farms, how animals are treated, how the people who eat those animals are treated, and it’s a scary thing. Well, it’s sort of a scary thing, except that there are great and not too complicated solutions.
Warning: I feel a rant approaching. Ready? Here it comes:
Wanna be green? Wanna be healthy? Wanna feed the world? Switch to a plant-based diet. It’s that simple.
When you think that the hamburger you ate for lunch yesterday doesn’t have beef from one animal, but from who knows how many animals, it’s kind of sickening. And when you think that even if only one of those animals was diseased, you have to wonder who all is getting sick right along with you. When you watch footage of cattle being led into the slaughterhouses, so unhealthy that they cannot even walk, you think that maybe you don’t need the steak you were thinking of cooking. When you see chickens bred to be so top-heavy (gotta have plenty of white breast meat) that they cannot support their own weight, you get a little queasy. When you watch baby chicks having their beaks seared off, you get a little angry. And when people say that it’s okay, they can’t feel anything, you might get a lot angry.
Not interested in animal rights?
How about your own health? Those sterile-looking packages of roast proudly proclaim they’re pure corn-feed beef. But wait a minute–cattle weren’t intended to eat corn. Corn makes them sick. So does standing in their own feces, unable to walk or move around because there are hundreds of other cows standing there stuffing themselves with the corn that is fed to them, standing cramped with no room to move. And since the corn makes them sick, not to mention the poop, they get fed antibiotics. Guess what happens to those antibiotics? You eat them. So what happens when you end up immune to the antibiotics because you’ve been consuming them in your food? Personally, I don’t want to know.
Not interested in the health issues?
How about the environment? Do you know how much land and water it takes to raise beef and poultry and farmed fish? What if we bypassed the middle man, and took the plants that the cattle and sheep and chickens eat, and fed them to the starving people of the earth? What if we didn’t have to figure out what to do with the incredibly vast amounts of cattle crap, and sheep shit, and chicken poop?
You see the point about eating meat, but you don’t think there’s anything wrong with dairy products?
Do you eat veal? Veal is baby male calves, taken from their mothers at birth so that you can get the milk that the mothers produce to feed their calves. The male calves aren’t good for much of anything, since they can’t give milk, so they are taken, fed formula and kept in the dark and not allowed to move around and slaughtered while they are young so you can enjoy that lovely tender white meat.
You don’t eat veal? Do you drink milk? Eat cheese? Guess what? Veal is a byproduct of the dairy industry, so if you use dairy, you support the veal industry. Not only that, but cows are fed hormones that, unless you drink organic milk, you drink with your milk & cookies, or eat with your cereal. Cows weren’t created to constantly provide milk. Milk is for baby calves, to help them grow.
I could go on and on and on, but I’ll stop. I usually keep my feelings to myself, not wanting to come across as the stereotypical militant vegan who’s out to save the world. But sometimes I just have to say something.
Being vegan isn’t about being angry, and being deprived, and wanting everyone in the world to be miserable scrawny gits. Au contraire. Being vegan is about abundance, it’s about life, it’s about–yes–wanting to save the world. It’s about thinking about something besides yourself. It’s about thinking that other beings do feel pain, do feel sorrow, do love. It’s about realizing that you’re not an island unto yourself. Everything that we do interacts with everything everyone else does, whether for good or for evil. What kind of a mark do you want to leave on the world? Ugly scars, pain and suffering, foetid land contaminated with drugs and feces? I contributed to that for far too many years. I think I’d rather contribute in whatever small way I can to beauty, peace, happiness, sunshine, to life.
That being said, please don’t think that I sit here and judge people by what they put into their mouths or on their bodies. I don’t. If we’re really good friends, I might share things I learn with you, and if we’re really really good friends, I might joke with you about saving the world. But ultimately we are each free to choose for ourselves, and I’m not going to nag you about it. Please don’t nag me, either, because I’m soooooooo not where I want to be right now. This life is a journey, and I’m still at the beginning of my thousand steps.